Despite playing a shorthanded Atlanta Hawks team, the Milwaukee Bucks lost a close one Wednesday night, losing 107-100. With that, what stood out the most for the Bucks in the loss?
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Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Although they had an edge in a few key ways, the Milwaukee Bucks put in an erratic effort Wednesday night that resulted in a 107-100 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The teams entered the game under opposing circumstances. The Bucks had a three day layoff, coming off their grind it out victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last Saturday night while the Hawks were fresh off a nail biting victory over the Miami Heat, in which they finished without Dwight Howard.
With Howard later being declared out for the game, along with Thabo Sefolosha, this had the makings for the Bucks to snatch a victory over a top level team in the East while they were shorthanded.
However, that was far from the case as the Bucks ended up looking more out of rhythm more than the Hawks. There was no greater example of that than how the Bucks fared in the second quarter as they were outscored 31-9 by the Hawks in those 12 minutes.
With that said, the Bucks rebounded and made a valiant comeback to make the game not only respectable, but even briefly put the outcome in doubt for the Hawks. Ultimately, though, the Hawks prevailed, leaving the Bucks with their fifth loss of the young season.
So with that, let’s take a look at what stood out the most in the Bucks’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
After taking a back seat to Michael Beasley the last couple of games, Mirza Teletovic came roaring back to give the Bucks some steady shooting Wednesday night.
Teletovic entered the game early in the first quarter after the Bucks started very sluggishly offensively, which forced head coach Jason Kidd to call timeout and reassess the team. From there, Teletovic went to work quickly, hitting a solid pull-up jumper as well as an above the break three on the right side of the court (a Teletovic staple as Brew Hoop’s Eric Nehm points out).
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter where Teletovic reignited, adding in three more three-point makes and continuing to be a steady presence as part of a centerless lineup Kidd rolled out in hopes to complete the comeback (more on that in a little bit later).
When it was all said and done, Teletovic finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and his four three-point makes accounted for half of the team’s three-point total for the night. On top of that, he finished with the best plus/minus for the Bucks as he was a +11 in his 25 minutes.
Certainly, Teletovic won’t be the biggest standout for the Bucks for many, if not all fans when it comes to last night’s game. But it’s nights like this, especially when he’s got it going, that show just how integral he is already for the Bucks and it was refreshing to see that after a week-plus hiatus.
For the time he was on the court, Giannis was reeling off multiple highlight worthy plays all throughout the night, including a dazzling behind the back driving slam dunk to keep hope alive for the Bucks late in the game.
However, last night’s effort wasn’t without negatives for the 21-year old, the biggest being his turnovers as he compiled four giveaways on the night.
For all the talk of what his change to Point Giannis did for his turnover problem late last season, Giannis’ tendency to turn the ball over has reared its ugly head back for the beginning of this season and he’s averaging 3.4 turnovers per game as it stands now.
But as often has been the case this year, the multitude of ways in which Giannis was a factor on Wednesday night does much more to overshadow his weaknesses. When nights like this are becoming a standard, it’s exciting to see where it all goes from here.
Jabari Parker opened up the scoring for the Bucks on the night with a sweet mid-range jumper, but that was all he tallied in the first half.
Parker’s first half left a lot to be desired, often opting to drive inside a crowded paint surrounded by multiple Hawks defenders. As a result, Jabari was pretty much a non factor for the first half of the game, only scoring 2 points on 1-of-7 shooting.
But Parker played with a different intensity coming out of halftime and opening up his game offensively did plenty to boost his effectiveness over the course of the second half.
In the third quarter alone, Parker scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and was a key figure for getting the team’s offense back on track. Although Parker’s output trailed off in the fourth quarter, he still managed to chip in a couple of scores and remain an impactful player within the team.
In the end, Jabari finished with 23 points (on 10-of-20 shooting), 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, but was a -8 in his 35 minutes.
For as forgettable as it started, seeing Jabari regain his season form in the second half was encouraging to see. It’s certainly not something we hope to see regularly, but we’ll still take what ended up being a solid night from Parker nonetheless.
With all three of Antetokounmpo, Teletovic and Parker playing all of the last 12 minutes, the Bucks went “small” to close out the game and it worked to great effect, outscoring the Hawks 30-23 for the fourth quarter.
It was very much a go for broke-type move made by Kidd, but considering the circumstances of the matchup along with how the game shook out up until that point, it was a necessary gamble to make that worked incredibly well in their favor.
Centerless lineups for the Bucks tonight (no Henson/Plumlee/Monroe): +43.2 points per 100 possessions.
Of course, that begs the question whether this is something we’ll start to see more regularly now.
Obviously it’s hard to tell what Kidd will roll out on a game by game basis well in advance and key factors, such as Dwight Howard being sidelined, played a part for why Kidd rolled out this type of lineup with the game on the line.
With that said, it’s interesting to see Kidd experiment with a lineup such as this on the eve of the matchup with the Golden State Warriors. Again, this is not saying we’ll see something similar to this for sure against the Warriors, but it’ll be curious to see whether Kidd will have this unit in mind come a few days from now.
Overall, seeing a “center-less” lineup from Kidd was a nice wrinkle to see and it was all the more gratifying when it worked out well, despite not being able to effectively dig themselves out of the hole they dug themselves in earlier in the game.