Jan 6, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) holds the ball away from Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. New York won 116-111. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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What can fans take away from the Milwaukee Bucks ugly loss to the New York Knicks in Milwaukee on Friday night?
We’re not going to talk about Mirza Teletovic‘s shot much here, because it was not Mirza Teletovic’s fault that the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Teletovic was three-for-four on threes before that shot, and although he shouldn’t have taken that off-balance look right there the inbounds pass wasn’t doing him any favors. I am almost never in favor of blaming a loss on one play down the stretch–so much more than that goes into these games.
The Bucks have a lot of players that share some responsibility in the loss to the Knicks. With that said, this should not be a cause for shaming and hating on players about a loss to a decent team in the early portion of January.
Still, it’s obvious the Bucks should have won on Friday night. This is what happens with young teams though. They take lumps, win games they’re supposed to lose and lose games they’re supposed to win.
There are lots of things to be taken away from this particular loss to the Knicks. Not many of them have to do with role players. Let’s get to the actually important stuff instead of worrying about what could’ve been different if Michael Beasley played a little less.
Jan 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) is congratulated after scoring the game winning basket at the buzzer against New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Bucks won 105-104. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Lack Of Consistency
As previously mentioned, the Bucks are not a consistent team right now. Forget game to game–the Bucks can’t even stay steady from quarter to quarter on some nights. The important thing to do is not overreact to games exactly like this one.
Although Milwaukee is the better team, the Knicks are not awful. With players like Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, this game was never going to be a complete cakewalk. Besides, although Giannis Antetokounmpo called this a must-win, it really was one for New York.
The Knicks had lost six straight games before Friday’s contest. They have another game coming up on Saturday, and the Knicks have struggled on back-to-backs. New York needed this more, to be frank.
That is not an excuse for the Bucks, but it is a factor in this game’s outcome. While the team grows and continues to develop together, there will be ups and downs like this. Even the new-look Golden State Warriors are going through something similar–after beating the Memphis Grizzlies for three quarters, Golden State choked in the fourth and then lost in overtime.
It happens. The Bucks are not doomed, nor are the Warriors. I do worry about the next team each of those two matches up against, though. Losses like this tend to piss teams off.
Jan 6, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker (12) dunks during the third quarter against the New York Knicks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Where’s The Closer?
Jabari Parker needs to assert himself more in games like this. Giannis is the one with the All-Star buzz and the Sports Illustrated covers and the one who hit the last buzzer-beater, but he’s not alone in Milwaukee.
Parker is a hell of a scorer, and one who was outscoring Giannis heading into the fourth quarter. Jabari took just two shots in the final period, a deep three and a blocked layup. That’s it. He played for the final eight and a half minutes or so.
Again, this loss is not Jabari’s fault alone. But in games like this, he should be taking more than two shots in the fourth quarter. Much of the time, Jabari is set up for a great shot when there’s any space around him to build up a head of steam.
Although hero ball can be predictable and ineffective late in games, the Bucks should still be working to get Jabari Parker a few touches in crunch time. He looks nearly unstoppable when he drives sometimes, and he’s come through in these situations before. Jabari not getting enough touches late might’ve been Milwaukee’s worst mistake on Friday.
Jan 6, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots over New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Giannis Trying To Save The Day
Hero ball is not a smart idea in the modern NBA. Efficiency is becoming king, and contested long twos are the enemy of efficiency. Ball movement is smart because catch-and-shoot looks are better than off-the-dribble looks for almost every player.
When the Bucks needed a basket, Giannis took the ball and tried to dribble against Lance Thomas, and cook him again. These home-and-home games make for a playoff atmosphere, and the added familiarity and intensity took effect during that sequence.
Giannis mis-dribbled once, and that was all Thomas needed. He dove down and grabbed the ball, and threw it to Courtney Lee for a game-clinching dunk. This was not the only time Giannis made a bad decision late.
He took multiple tough, covered jumpers in the fourth quarter. Giannis ended the fourth one-for-eight from the field. Some of those were decent shots blocked by Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn, but some of them were deep twos and threes that really shouldn’t have been taken.
Seeing a confident Giannis is awesome. The Greek Freak has reason to be confident. But there’s a difference between confidence and being too confident. Giannis crossed that line for stretches of the fourth quarter, and while Jabari sat around mostly watching the game slipped out of reach for the Bucks.
Dec 12, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks fans celebrate after the Bucks defeated the Golden State Warriors 108-95 to end the Warriors
Twitter is exploding over this game, and has been since the final seconds of last night. The radio waves are likely following suit. This is not the end of the world, or even of the Bucks season. In fact, that’s not even halfway over yet!
It’s JANUARY. That’s incredibly early on the NBA calendar. Yes, the Milwaukee Bucks lost a game they should have won. It happens. It happened to the Golden State Warriors, who some analysts thought would potentially go 82-0 and still expect to win the 2017 NBA Finals, on the exact same night and even the same network!
Bucks fans aren’t used to expecting their team to win, so they have no idea what to do when the team expected to win doesn’t. The answer should not be pandemonium. Every team loses every year. No team has ever won all of their games. Sometimes, losses are ugly.
In the regular season, those losses should not be ruining people’s days. The Bucks will win again soon. For now, all that needs to be done is refocusing the team and preparing for the next game on Sunday afternoon.