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Milwaukee Bucks Weekly Wednesday Wrap-up

Another winning streak has started

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The win streak may be snapped, but the vibes around the Milwaukee Bucks remain strong — especially in light of those poor, poor Boston Celtics dropping three straight. Bud’s boys are number one in the Eastern Conference and trying to keep building the gap between them and the Sixers. A new win streak is budding, with a west coast trip looming. Hopefully we can come out on the other side of that in similar spirits. Let’s wrap up.

The Week that Was

A double-dip of Orlando Magic basketball this week, starting with an offensive explosion that even a feisty performance couldn’t keep the fighting John Hammonds close. After that, I won’t say anything more about that Philly loss. Sad. But the Wizards game was a fun bounceback, in part because I was fortunate enough to be in the stadium for it! The cherry blossom aesthetic is legit, and I walked away completely unawares Giannis even had a triple-double so I could be gleefully ignorant of Triple-DoubleGate this past week. Blowing the doors off the Magic once more was a cherry on top.

Weekly Wondering

My apologies, I’ve had an insane week so this section will be much shorter than usual. I’ll try to make up for it next week, but here are some interesting defensive tidbits/food for thought I’ve been pondering. Despite their increasingly stingy defense, one big worry this season has been transition defense, especially early in the season. The gig was up that you could run on this Bucks team. Since then, I think they’ve locked it down pretty well.

Cleaning The Glass lists their opponent points/play in transition at 115.7, the stingiest in the league, despite the fact other teams are running transition at a near top-five frequency against Milwaukee. Volume + inefficiency for the other team is an impressive formula.

In a similar vein, I wanted to attack transition in another way by looking at shot clock data. For those that don’t know, conventional wisdom is that the longer your force a team into the shot clock, the worse their percentages are to hit that shot. It makes intuitive sense too, as a possession goes along, if you stave off the set actions of a team, they often have to rely on isolation or hero ball to get a bucket. There are players who can hit those, but even the elite struggle to make them at an efficient clip.

For reference, here is the average eFG% (per for different shot clock times along with how Bucks opponents are faring in those same intervals.

Opponent eFG% by Shot Clock

Time Range Bucks Opp. Freq% Bucks Opp. eFG% Avg. eFG% Diff
Time Range Bucks Opp. Freq% Bucks Opp. eFG% Avg. eFG% Diff
24-22 2.9 52.60% 59.31% -6.71%
22-18 (very early) 13.5 55.80% 60.90% -5.10%
18-15 (early) 17.6 55.00% 55.39% -0.39%
15-7 (average) 49.5 49.80% 54.41% -4.61%
7-4 (late) 8.6 50.30% 51.97% -1.67%
4-0 (very late) 7.9 46.10% 43.38% 2.72%

Given Milwaukee boasts the best defense, it’s no surprise to see almost across the board their opponent eFG% is lower than the league average. And again, the cripplingly low percentages in early shot clock situations compared to the rest of the league back up what Cleaning The Glass is saying about teams not always feasting in transition anymore.

What caught my eye most was the fact the one area of the shot clock they’re not doing better than league average at are in late shot clock opportunities. That seems like potentially variance given the field goals are at such low volumes there. And when you consider that section of the shot clock might be their worst compared to league average, yah, I’d say this Bucks D is in a pretty good place.

Plays of the Week

Lots of solid entries this week — with 76ers highlights left out (sorry Grayson) because I don’t wanna be reminded of that postgame misery.


There were so many sequences in the first Magic game that could’ve been pulled, as it seemed like Milwaukee’s most unselfish 48 minutes of the season. The ball was pinging and players were paying it off in spades. I chose this one because it fits that theme, with multiple players passing up decent looks to drive-and-kick or dish, but also because AJ Green was money for that game and he deserves some kudos for what he’s made of himself this season.

Jae with the English

I was in the stadium for this one, with literally the perfect angle to see the english on this pass from Crowder behind his back to Holiday waiting in the corner about 200 feet below me. This angle can’t do it justice. I’ve mentioned before Jae’s passing is the biggest surprise to me so far from his brief tenure, and this was the most highlight-worthy by far. I audibly ooed and had to fan myself off for a few minutes.

Slipscreen Timing

This sequence was beautiful, obviously because of hte pinpoint pass by Ingles, but also because of the timing between Portis and Lopez. Bobby and Brook line up near one another, and when Ingles starts his move Portis flees to the corner to bring his man with him. That distraction is enough for Lopez to slip his screen as Ingles comes around, freeing him up for an open lane with Bobby’s man preoccupied and all weakside defenders disinterested in leaving their man to stop a 280-pound man flying at the hoop.

Fake Double Drag

It’s not often you get two Lopez dunks in a row, but think of this as a variation on the sequence above. Khris had it going with Brook against the Magic, and here he sets them up by setting up initially as if Middleton might be coming around to take advantage of a double drag screen. Instead, with Portis still there to set the initial pick, Lopez bails early and Mo Wagner (dolt that he is) just completely abandons Lopez for a free oop at the bucket. Got ya!

Around the World

During a game when Middleton was dominating the defense most often with the ball in his hand, this play stuck out. First off, you get the interplay between Joe Ingles and Khris where the latter has the chance to function purely off-ball with another capable offensive creator our there. As Middleton starts his run from the left side of the arc, you can see Magic defenders trying to call out to their teammates to keep tabs on Khris as he floats through the underbelly of their zone defense. Instead, they just basically lose sight of him and Brook sets a strong enough screen to deter Bitadze from a solid contest on Khris. We get the flagrant foul and another trip to the free throw line for Khris. It’s nice to see this method of zone-busting as an alternative to always tossing it into the free throw line and distributing from there.


Mar. 8: The Play of the Week is...

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    (33 votes)
  • 45%
    Jae with the English
    (57 votes)
  • 13%
    Slipscreen Timing
    (17 votes)
  • 6%
    Fake Double Drag
    (8 votes)
  • 8%
    Around the World
    (10 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now