This week played out as I expected in last week’s column; it was a tall ask to take down the Nuggets and Celtics on SEGABABAs immediately after travel. The losses aren’t good by any means, and the way the Bucks played in them was dispiriting, but the circumstances are ones that no team will face in the postseason. Indiana’s speed meant Milwaukee had to work pretty hard for that W, which clearly didn’t help the following evening. However, the Bucks who rested on Wednesday weren’t up to snuff last night either. I’d hoped that a healthy Jae Crowder could help (not really), or that both Jrue Holiday and Pat Connaughton looking more like themselves offensively (also not really) would make the week more successful, but instead we have to settle for this mixed bag. Fortunately, they’re still very much in command of their destiny for homecourt advantage with five games left, despite losing their only consequential tiebreaker.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: A- (last week: A)
4 GP, 28.7 MPG, .600/.100/.667, 29.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 3.3 TPG, 2.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Even with the fast triple-double, I might be ready to wave the white flag on Giannis’ MVP case. Though he swished a few from the 16-foot range last night, his selection was generally poor and he struggled to finish through contact. For the most part, I thought Boston didn’t impede him to much in getting to the rim, but once he got there, he wasn’t good enough. Aside from the high-profile disappointment, this was otherwise a great week.
Khris Middleton: B- (last week: A)
3 GP, 27.4 MPG, .480/.188/.900, 20.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.7 TPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Props for putting together his best game of the year when Giannis and Holiday sat in Detroit, but demerits for two mediocre (which is probably an overstatement of his Thursday) lines after resting the front ends of each back-to-back. He still has plenty of time to get into a rhythm, and his jumper generally looks pure inside the arc. I’ve still yet to see hints of the postseason defense he displayed on the way to the 2021 title, which will need to reappear if they’re to have any chance against Boston.
Jrue Holiday: B (last week: B)
4 GP, 27.6 MPG, .544/.500/.857, 21.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 7.0 APG, 2.8 TPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
I don’t know how else to evaluate two stinkers that sandwich the nuclear attack Holiday unleashed on the Pacers. Filet mignon between slices of Wonder Bread? His early turnovers last night mainly came from losing control of his dribble, which has been an issue here and there. Fatigue played a part in his struggles on Jaylen Brown early and Malcolm Brogdon immediately after; there are few people in the league you’d trust more than Holiday on each of those guys, so he needs to be better, rest or no rest.
Brook Lopez: B (last week: A+)
5 GP, 26.3 MPG, .600/.182/.882, 16.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.2 SPG, 2.6 BPG
No doubt he came up big as a second or third fiddle in the week’s lower-stakes contests, but for as good as Lopez is, Boston isn’t a great matchup for him. This much we knew, so the struggles with Nikola Jokic stood out a bit more to me. If he faces the Nuggets again, I think the results would be better; he generally isn’t goaded into picking up personals from other bigs. A strong effort on Joel Embiid on Sunday would go a long way.
Grayson Allen: B- (last week: B-)
5 GP, 24.9 MPG, .405/.423/.909, 10.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 TPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Defensively, Allen held up well in coverage with anyone the Celtics threw at him, but he’s just too short to prevent shots hoisted above him by their big wings. What’s more concerning is that outside of a massive dunk, he’s been MIA since two excellent nights in the Mountain Time Zone. He torched Philly a few weeks ago before he was a bit excluded in that fourth quarter, so the offense needs to find him just as much as he needs to pull the trigger more liberally.
Bobby Portis: B (last week: A-)
5 GP, 24.4 MPG, .418/.318/.800, 12.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.8 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
It’s a bit surprising to see how productive Portis was this week, because he went through several rough patches as a shooter and defender. To some extent, his numbers feel a bit empty and he didn’t come off as being very impactful. Perhaps more than any other Buck, he’s having trouble avoiding the whistle. Seems to be frustrating him too.
Joe Ingles: C (last week: A)
4 GP, 19.2 MPG, .200/.231/1.000, 2.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Aside from six and six in his return to Utah, this was a week to forget for Ingles. I’d hoped to see him offer a bit more as a ballhandler when facing Boston, especially in P&R with Lopez. He sizes up well with them, but doesn’t have the quickness to prevent any Celtics from getting around him. Given he benefitted from rest, chalk this one up to being old.
Pat Connaughton: B- (last week: C)
5 GP, 21.4 MPG, .500/.417/.000, 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Hope that his big Friday might reignite him from deep didn’t come to pass, with Connaughton missing eight of his next ten. Absent efforts on Monday and Wednesday relegated him deeper onto the bench, but maybe those garbage time buckets yesterday will help.
Jae Crowder: D (last week: injured)
2 GP, 14.0 MPG, .333/.000/.000, 1.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.5 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
It was only one game, but Crowder sure didn’t look like a viable option on Boston’s Js. His calf might still be bothering him, but any strength or size advantage he might have possessed was very neutralized by the speed the Celtics had on him.
Jevon Carter: B (last week: C+)
5 GP, 22.9 MPG, .419/.448/.000, 9.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.4 TPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Off nights versus the contenders marred what otherwise was a sizzling week for Carter, who feasted on Detroit’s sieve-like backcourt. For what he lacks in size and can make up with doggedness, it’s tough to see him struggle so much with Boston’s guards. Like Lopez, I don’t think he’ll be too useful in a potential Celtics series.
Wesley Matthews: C (last week: A-)
5 GP, 17.3 MPG, .438/.100/1.000, 3.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.2 TPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Now that he’s getting more regular run, Matthews shouldn’t need to shake off any rust when asked to check opposing wings, and his minute load isn’t outrageous even on a B2b. Like all other Bucks, though, he had nothing to offer in defending Boston’s scorers despite his success last year. I don’t think he’s a lock for playoff minutes by any means.
Goran Dragic: B+ (last week: injured)
3 GP, 7.0 MPG, .375/.750/.000, 3.0 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 TPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.0 BPG
The lone bright spot with some meaningless triples last night, Dragic will still need some time to gel, though he threw some nice passes in Detroit. So long as he’s healthy, he should get the chance to mesh with reserve-heavy lineups in the coming weeks.
MarJon Beauchamp: B+ (last week: A-)
4 GP, 7.1 MPG, .556/.400/.000, 3.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.8 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Beauchamp still isn’t ready to tangle with the big boys defensively, even blowing some coverages during his inconsequential action. But he’s had at least one encouraging play on the other end each time he’s appeared, so I remain pleased with his development.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo: B (last week: incomplete)
5 GP, 5.2 MPG, .800/.000/.250, 1.8 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 TPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.0 BPG
I’m boosting this grade for a couple thunderous dunks and getting in Blake Griffin’s grill, ejection be damned. He’s not to be trifled with.
AJ Green: B (last week: incomplete)
1 GP, 18 MIN, .429/.500/.000, 9 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 0 TOV, 0 STL, 0 BLK
His scarce court time was impactful enough thanks to his shooting, and he even through a nice dime late in Indy.
Mike Budenholzer: B (last week: A)
3-2 W-L, 119.3 ORtg (), 123.2 DRtg (), -3.9 NetRtg ()
There was little Bud could do when his players missed all 11 threes in last night’s second quarter. It also doesn’t fall on him when those same tired legs can’t get back on defense. This squad was dealt a tough hand this week, and a 3-2 record is acceptable, because 40+ margins of defeat don’t count in the standings any more than a close loss. Seeding and health is the objective right now; Bud continues to do a good job pursuing both. Quite simply, the Bucks don’t care as much about what happened Thursday as fans do, and that’s reasonable.
Incomplete: Lindell Wigginton (2 GP, 9 MIN), Meyers Leonard (injured)
Individually-speaking, Giannis and Lopez are probably the Bucks whose performance could swing Sunday’s result for their team more than their teammates. Holiday is due for a bounce-back defensively on Harden and Maxey (Carter is too, honestly), and the whole team needs to shoot better. If any of this combines to produce a victory on Sunday, that should restore at least some faith in this team, but we shouldn’t judge any regular season outcomes too harshly, especially given the rough schedule.
How would you grade the Bucks’ performance this past week?
This poll is closed
What are your individual grades? Let me know in the comments below.