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Milwaukee Bucks Weekly Wednesday Wrap-up

It’s good to be Brook

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a light week for Milwaukee Bucks basketball after a stuft crust week before that. All we had were two measly games this past week against the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors. With small pickings for this week’s wrap-up, let’s get right into it.

The Week that Was

Indiana coming in with two former Bucks in George Hill and Jordan Nwora was all you needed to know about the recipe for fallout that night. What a horrific display of defense in the second half coupled with scorching nets for the Pacers. Yikes. The salve on the wound was upending Nick Nurse and his annoying Raptors team. Brook Lopez bombarding their piddly excuse for rim defense in the fourth made that W so much sweeter.

Weekly Wondering

We’ve done a lot of rotation talk in recent weeks for this section, but I hope you’ll indulge me one last time. Last year around this time, I touched on how Bud broke down his lineups during clutch time (game within five points in the last five minutes). To my surprise, PJ Tucker, while essential, was not exactly the piece that was critical throughout the entire run. He was necessary to close against Phoenix, but across the entirety of the Playoffs, he wound up 6th in percentage of clutch minutes.

So while I’m sure we’ll talk plenty about whether Bud will replace Grayson Allen in the starting lineup come Playoff time, I’m more interested in who will be on the floor when it’s gut check time. With a few notable hiccups (Bulls GAH, Raptors CURSE YOU and Sixers), this team has been more than confident in the clutch this year. Their 2.8 net rating may only rank 11th, but as stated above, there have been some horrific outliers along the way that may skew those figures. Besides, the most important numbers are that they’re 27-8 in clutch situations this year, the best winning percentage in the league.

That can be a fickle thing, so there’s no reason to presume this team will steamroll over folks moving forward. But I wanted to see who exactly has been key to those closing lineups that have delivered such confidence-inducing victories. Without Khris Middleton, this isn’t a representative sample of who will automatically be on the floor in the playoffs, but I wanted to share the full season’s worth of data initially.

Bucks Clutch Stats

Player MIN % time in clutch PTS FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT%
Player MIN % time in clutch PTS FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT%
Brook Lopez 104.9 81.32% 58 40 55 16 31.3 9 14 64.3
Jrue Holiday 103.9 80.54% 81 48 50 23 47.8 22 25 88
Giannis Antetokounmpo 90.8 70.39% 69 56 37.5 6 16.7 26 36 72.2
Grayson Allen 75.7 58.68% 35 20 50 10 50 10 10 100
Jevon Carter 41.4 32.09% 14 15 40 8 25 0 0 0
Bobby Portis 44.8 34.73% 14 14 42.9 4 25 1 1 100
Pat Connaughton 41.2 31.94% 3 4 25 4 25 0 0 0
Joe Ingles 39.9 30.93% 10 8 37.5 8 37.5 1 2 50
Wesley Matthews 33.8 26.20% 4 5 20 3 33.3 1 1 100
Khris Middleton 32.4 25.12% 7 11 27.3 5 20 0 0 0
Goran Dragic 15.2 11.78% 2 2 50 0 0 0 0 0
Jae Crowder 4.3 3.33% 3 1 100 1 100 0 0 0
MarJon Beauchamp 4.3 3.33% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Milwaukee’s logged 129 minutes of clutch time this year, so the percentage is based off of that figure. As you can see, it’s been Brook and Jrue driving much of the success this season, with visions of Holiday stepbacks dancing in my head. Him shooting nearly 50% on threes in clutch time is absurd. Perhaps the most surprising stat to me is just how little Pat Connaughton has been in there. Sure, he dealt with injuries, but the fact he’s logged around the same number of clutch minutes as Jevon given his standing in Bud’s playoff rotation a few years ago is interesting. I still expect that figure to tick up.

The problem with this data is how little it figures in key players who I envision in closing lineups, namely Middleton and Crowder. The latter in particular figures to be a key piece of Bud finishing games out but he’s notably barely gotten a chance to get in rhythm in those difficult situations. Perhaps it’s merely a matter of conditioning, or Bud already knows he can trust him late. Tucker logged 50 clutch minutes in the regular season even after arriving near the trade deadline in Milwaukee. When it comes to remaining questions for this season, there aren’t many, but closing Crowder is one I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Plays of the Week

Even with only two games this week, the Raptors game provided plenty of film fodder worth pushing below.

Wes Behind the Back

It’s not often you get to see Wes Matthews sling the ball, but this play was fun on a few levels. It started with Khris Middleton acting as a nominal screener, that’s fun! Jrue Holiday doesn’t really do much with it though besides bait, yes, Jordan Nwora, away from his area in the zone so Matthews has a wide open three. Instead of shoot, he knows Myles Turner is gonna fly by him, and once Nesmith commits to him on the drive, he gives the ball some pretty little english for the Leonard slam.

Early Possession Passing

This is a terrific example of how Milwaukee’s early possession passing was dictating the game in the opening stages against Toronto. They were pushing up the court and making quick reads bouncing the ball around before Toronto could get set. Here, all it takes is Giannis pushing it up and Khris flashing to the middle to get the Raptors all jumbled. Middleton appears to have an open shot to the basket with so much attention on Giannis, who uses that to his advantage before dishing to Khris at the last possible second. Middleton immediately diagnoses that Brook has been abandoned as a trailer and delivers a sidearm pass out of the double for a trey.

See Pat Cut

We’ve gotten lots of delightful action with Pat Connaughton as the screener this year. We’ve highlighted in the section times where he screens for Giannis then flies out above the break for a dish on the pick-and-pop. With Holiday, he takes a different tact. After setting up the screen hella high, Holiday makes his move and Siakam commits fully to Holiday hoping his length will cut off the passing lane. After a slight push for acceleration by Pat on Scottie Barnes, Holiday rifles in a perfect pass and Pat finishes for the and-one before Anunoby can recover in time.

Jrue Makes Up for It

I kept the turnover in to start this clip because it’s a testament to Holiday he doesn’t let that discourage him. Instead of sulking, he heads back nonchalantly and plays the 2-on-1 perfectly, stopping Siakam’s momentum and turning his attention to Anunoby. Behind textbook verticality on the contest, he then is able to block OG’s shot.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again

I love this play because it’s a classic Bucks possession that would’ve easily turned into an isolation pull-up jumper in years past. The Raptors play impeccable defense for the early actions here, with Portis being cut off coming around screens atop the arc while at the same time Giannis is getting a backscreen by Pat Connaughton on the baseline. Many times, that might be enough, but Anunoby recovers and VanFleet even sniffs out Connaughton proceeding above the break for a potential pass from Ingles for a three.

So they have to reset. Ingles gets the ball to Giannis on the elbow, the players take their spots in the blue boxes. Portis creeps into the lane for a potential pass, while Ingles and Connaughton remain outlets. A cross-court risky pass by Giannis out of the double to Connaughton gets the slight scramble started. With Toronto on the move, Pat passes to Joe immediately, who pumpfakes, drives, draws defenders and spots Holiday in the corner for a three. Awesome execution and patience.


March 22: The Play of the Week is...

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Wes Behind the Back
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    Early Possession Passing
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    See Pat Cut
    (1 vote)
  • 30%
    Jrue Makes Up for It
    (13 votes)
  • 47%
    If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again
    (20 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now

That’ll do it for another wrap-up!