The Milwaukee Bucks came away with their second straight loss in as many nights, losing to the Miami Heat 96-73 last night. What stood out the most for the Bucks in the loss?
Article continues below ...
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
On the second night of a back-to-back on the road, the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Miami Heat 96-73 on Thursday night in pretty miserable fashion.
Like their performance against the Atlanta Hawks from the night before, the Bucks started the game off hot, opening the game on a 20-6 run that lasted until around the midway point of the first quarter.
From there, though, the Bucks showed the same signs of slippage, again similar to how they wilted the previous night.
Although the Heat were far from efficient in their own right (the Heat finished the night shooting 40 percent from the field and 7-of-30 from deep), the steady amount of opportunities that kept opening up for them were ultimately too many to squander as the game went on.
However, unlike their effort against the Hawks, there was no storming comeback from the Bucks this time around.
Once the Heat took control of the lead shortly after the start of the second half, the Bucks largely were going through the motions in hopes to get something going offensively to get back on track.
Despite the Bucks’ brief run that made it a two-point game around the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter, a 17-4 run from the Heat soon followed, which lasted the bulk of the fourth quarter. That ultimately sealed the win for the Heat and left the Bucks with a dispiriting finish for their back-to-back road trip.
So with that, why don’t we take a look at what worked and mostly didn’t work in the loss for the Bucks.
In a game with few bright spots, Tony Snell definitely did his part to keep the game competitive for the Bucks for at least the first half.
Snell opened the game off hot, hitting his first two three-point attempts in succession. Snell added in two more three-pointers in the middle of the second quarter, coming at around the first time the Bucks offense was slowly falling apart for the night.
Although he managed to add another bucket in the second half, Snell’s offense dried up in the vein of how the team’s offense did in general. Playing 32 minutes, Snell finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting (4-of-9 from beyond the arc), six rebounds and a +/- of -13.
If there are more nights like last night where Snell is the co-leading scorer, it feels safe to say that it doesn’t exactly promise success for the Bucks in the future.
That’s through no fault of his own and it was still prominent to see Snell doing his best to keep the game in the Bucks’ favor at a time where they were without reliable contributors.
Another game, another night of shooting struggles for Matthew Dellavedova.
Despite managing to lead the Bucks with nine assists (on two turnovers), Delly turned in a scoreless night, shooting 0-of-7 from the field and 0-of-1 from deep.
It’s just another sign for what’s been a troubling start, shooting wise, for the 26-year old Australian. By and large, the game was a microcosm of Delly’s struggles as most of his attempts came in areas where he’s historically struggled to score (mostly anywhere inside the three-point arc) versus where he’s proven to be really effective as a shooter (anywhere beyond the three-point arc).
That of course, brings up the curious question regarding Delly’s role and who’s really in charge of the offense for the Bucks, at least within the starting unit.
Sure, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s early foul trouble likely led to Delly handling playmaking duties for the majority of the night. Additionally, it’s not like Delly’s been over his head assuming a bigger playmaking role than he was used to playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers (For those wondering, Delly currently has a 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season).
But ultimately, the area where Delly was thought to make the biggest difference on hasn’t been the case this early into the year. Whether that’s due to his role or his ineffectiveness is debatable, but it’s clear that a more effective Delly would do a lot of good for the Bucks.
Aside from the struggles offensively, the biggest takeaway in the Bucks’ loss to the Heat was probably the center rotation for the night.
Of the team’s three-headed center monster, just John Henson and Miles Plumlee received playing time, leaving Greg Monroe with a DNP-CD for the night.
Between the two, Henson was by far the best of the two bigs to see the floor, contributing 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks and being a -2 in 28 minutes. Continuing his poor start to the season, Plumlee turned in another disappointing effort, adding in two points, two boards and being -13 in a little over 17 minutes.
Obviously Plumlee’s struggles only make Monroe’s DNP much more peculiar on the surface.
According to Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, he decided to roll with just two centers based on how seemingly all three have been frustrated by not being able to lock into a rhythm in short stints (you can read the full quote, transcribed by Eric Nehm of Brew Hoop, here).
So it was predetermined and it left Monroe as the odd man out for last night’s game. If I had to take a guess, this was probably Monroe’s reaction in taking the news from Kidd.
So now, we’ll have to wait and see whether this will become a regular thing for the trio, which only adds more confusion on the bewildering carousel that is the Bucks’ big man rotation.
As for Plumlee, his struggles haven’t gone unnoticed, especially now that he’s coming off the bench. Even when he gets a good run on the court like he did against the Heat, it always seems like he’s stuck in second gear.
It’s early, but it certainly hasn’t been Plumlee’s day, week, month or even his year just 11 games into the season. But we’ll be there for Plumlee, mostly because the Bucks just signed him to a four-year, $52 million deal this summer.
Not since the Mavericks’ game from a couple of weeks ago had both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker been non-factors for the Bucks like they were against the Heat.
While you might have made a guess for that with Giannis, considering he got into foul trouble not long after the opening tip, we probably wouldn’t have said the same thing for Jabari based on his start.
Jabari started strong last night, making three of his first four shooting attempts, all on dunks. With a remarkable score such as this setting the tone early, it seemed like we were in for a ride for the rest of the night.
Despite adding in a make from downtown sometime after, Jabari’s offense dried up over the course of the second quarter and never recovered for the rest of the night.
As for Giannis, he did a serviceable job upon returning to the floor shortly after the start of the second quarter. That eventually tapered off after halftime, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying as Giannis often played with his head down (if I could bring back that old chestnut), looking to make the game more respectable on his own to little or no effect.
Similar to Snell, if both Jabari and Giannis combine to score 25 points on a night (on 10-of-35 shooting), it will likely lead to a loss for the Bucks. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: the Bucks will only go as far as Giannis and Jabari collectively take them this year, especially with Khris Middleton out.