The Milwaukee Bucks were unable to wash the taste of Friday night’s loss out of their mouth Saturday in Washington, losing 105-110. But what were the key takeaways to come out of the game in D.C.?
Dec 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Verizon Center. Washington Wizards won 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
After spending the last couple of weeks looking like they were ready to take the next step in their development, the Milwaukee Bucks have hit a bit of a stumbling block in their last couple of games.
A disappointing loss following a disappointing loss has the Bucks back at the .500 mark, with 11 in both the win and loss column. Many fans seem ready to revert to the fall back position of “same old Bucks”, which seems more than a little unfair.
While the Bucks are hanging around the .500 mark as they oft have before, the way that they are doing it seems to give legitimate reason for optimism. The Bucks started the game strong, opening up a nine point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately, they were unable to sustain that lead for long, thanks to opening the second quarter by going without a point for the first four minutes of the period. During that time the Wizards dropped in 12 points, firmly establishing themselves in the game.
From then on, the game remained a close one, with neither team able to seize control. Down the stretch, the Bucks did not make the plays they needed to make to pull out the victory. So what were the key takeaways from the game against the Wizards? Let’s take a look.
Apr 11, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) drives against Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson (32) during the first quarter of a basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The Bucks continue to get little production from their shooting guards. Tony Snell had another ofer from beyond the arc, and ended the game with two points. Jason Terry remains a valuable veteran presence on the court, but he is not contributing much in the way of shot making to the Bucks offense.
There simply is not enough consistent production coming from the shooting guard position thus far.
This is why the Bucks have really missed the consistent shooting that Khris Middleton has shown during his time in Milwaukee. While there is an argument to make for Middleton’s absence accelerating the growth of Giannis and Jabari, in the end that line of reasoning is mistaking correlation for causality.
Giannis and Jabari are both taking large strides this season, but with the talent and work ethic they each possess, that was always going to happen. The fact that Middleton is out is just coincidental. And for the development of the team, and the progression toward elite status, the Bucks will need Middleton.
Dec 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dribbles against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
If They Ain’t Breaking, Fix It
The Bucks are at their most dangerous when they are able to get into the open floor for easy baskets. Giannis and Jabari at full speed bearing down on the basket is a thing of beauty, and nigh unstoppable.
Unfortunately, on Saturday they scored only seven points in transition against the Wizards.
When the Bucks are not getting easy opportunities in transition, they are prone to scoring droughts, and they suffered through a couple of them in D.C. on Saturday.
The Wizards opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run over the first four minutes. The Bucks also failed to score for over three minutes in the middle of the fourth quarter, during which time the Wizards turned a five point deficit into a five point lead.
Dec 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) blocks the shot attempt by Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the second half at Verizon Center. Washington Wizards won 110-105. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Giannis Is Great, But Still Growing
The night after what was probably his worst outing of the season, Giannis turned in a beauty of a performance against the Wizards. In 41 minutes, Giannis scored 28 points on 11/18 shooting from the field.
He also pulled down 13 rebounds and handed out seven assists. And, unlike Friday, he was able to avoid getting into foul trouble.
He also turned the ball over seven times and many of those turnovers seemed to be the result of trying to do too much. With Giannis, the only limit each night seems to be his mindset and discipline, which have already come light years during his time in the NBA.
When he is consistently able to avoid making the easily avoidable mistakes, there will be no stopping him.
Nov 16, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Mirza Teletovic (35) and forward Jabari Parker (12) react after a basket against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Bucks 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Fearza The Mirza
After inexplicably being held out of the last two games, Mirza Teletovic was back with a vengeance on Saturday night. In 26 minutes, Mirza poured in 25 points. On the night, he shot 8/12 from the field, including 5/6 from beyond the arc.
He drilled a buzzer beating three at the end of the first quarter along with a 35 foot three pointer near the end of the game which cut the Wizards lead to three points.
Performances like this are what the Bucks were hoping for when they signed Teletovic, and the fact that he has shown himself to be capable of such outbursts makes his recent DNPs all the more puzzling.