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Bucks vs. Hawks: Milwaukee’s Defense Struggles in Blowout Loss

Damian Lillard scores just six points in his second game as a Buck

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Without Khris Middleton being able to contribute his efforts, the Bucks fell to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night at Fiserv Forum, 127-110.

Game Summary

It wasn’t the start that the Bucks were looking for. Cold shooting plagued them early on as the Hawks quickly constructed a double-digit lead. Milwaukee would scratch their way back, eliminating that deficit to just six points heading into the second quarter.

After the Bucks worked so hard to erase the double-digit deficit they found themselves in, they fell into the same hole midway through the second. Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson started stealing the show in the quarter, quickly racking up points. Additionally, Damian Lillard failed to score a single point in the entire first half, which aided in the Hawks holding a 68-47 halftime lead.

Not much changed in the third quarter. Damian Lillard finally scored his first basket with 3:33 left in the quarter, continuing the offensive troubles Milwaukee was exhibiting. By the time the quarter horn sounded and we headed into the fourth, the Bucks found themselves in a large deficit, 101-80.

There was no turning it around for the Bucks as things continued to progress. Instead of flipping a switch and igniting the offense, they were fully extinguished as the Hawks polished off a lopsided 127-110 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was the lead man on the stat sheet for Milwaukee, going for a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He also earned the double-double with 11 boards.

The Hawks featured eight starters in double-digits with Trae Young as the leading scorer with 20 points.

It’s a quick turnaround for the Bucks, as they’ll face the Miami Heat tonight at Fiserv Forum.

What Did We Learn?

The Bucks defense was...shaky, to say the least. Many were noticing that this was the most suspect the defense has been since the Jason Kidd era. Atlanta seemingly got whatever they wanted, especially down low. Given the fact that Milwaukee has a defensive force like Brook Lopez to assist in areas like that, it does seem a little alarming. Trae Young also gave the Bucks fits and made things difficult, as he served as the Hawks’ leading scorer. Postgame, Adrian Griffin was asked about his team’s efforts on him:

It’s early and while there’s no reason to panic as a Bucks fan, it’s fine to be skeptical about approaches — and right now, the main sources of skepticism are coming with concerns on the defense. Again, it’s early in the season, but there are definitely some kinks to sort out.

Three Things

Damian Lillard did not have a solid night.

When he finally checked out of this one, his final stat line was one of the worst ones of his career: Six points, six TOV, 2-of-12 from the floor, 2-of-8 from 3-point land, and a -29 RPM. Yikes. Right now, it’s obviously not a concern moving forward. It’s never always going to be his night and Dame attributed it to Atlanta being the more physical and aggressive team. As he said, you play enough games, you’re going to have outings like this one. It was clear that he doesn’t have any concerns moving forward.

The first half definitely symbolized how this one was going to go.

Following outputs of 31 points in the first quarter and 37 in the second quarter, it was clearly noted how Milwaukee’s defensive approach was not working. Any time you cough up that much on the defensive side of the ball, there’s a strong likelihood that you won’t be winning the game. This was something that Adrian Griffin mentioned in his postgame availability. Additionally, Giannis was asked about that first half. Here’s what he had to say:

It also gave a glimpse into how he views things as the season progresses. He’s not the type of player to turn on his head coach and points out that there’s a lot of change for this team. It’ll be very intriguing to see what changes are made and how things continue to evolve on the defensive side of the ball, as that’s very clearly where the main concerns are starting to occur.

Malik Beasley made some nice signs.

Another one of Milwaukee’s off-season acquisitions has started making presence felt, as his 18 points served as the second-highest on the Bucks. He attempted ten points and connected on four of them, bringing a spark at times. When Khris Middleton is back out on the floor, it’ll space things out more, providing more opportunities for him with his shot. Additionally, it was encouraging to see him show some intensity by trying to bring the crowd into it when they were down double-digits. Ultimately, the Atlanta lead was never erased, but that’s still something that’s a positive to see.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • With Khris Middleton sitting this one out, Jae Crowder got the nod in the starting lineup. He didn’t do too much, posting just two points on 1-of-4 shooting. He’ll likely regress back to the bench tonight against Miami.
  • We saw Andre Jackson Jr. get some minutes to start the fourth. He ultimately played over six minutes and didn’t score a point, but it was nice to see him get some run.
  • Giannis blocks remain a joy to watch:
  • However, his 3-point attempts are not a joy to watch. He attempted one early on in this game (and missed it). It wasn’t exactly the best shot. He’s now 0-for-4 on his attempts to begin the year.
  • Bobby Portis recorded his first double-digit outing of the year with 12 points. Last year, he registered double-digits in a career-high 58 times.
  • Last, I have to end my Extended Recap with this, which ended up being the highlight of the night:

For those wondering, what??? Flavor Flav and MarJon Beauchamp are close. Just unreal.

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