The Milwaukee Bucks lost in heartbreaking fashion to the San Antonio Spurs last night, losing 97-96. With that, what stood out the most for them in the loss?
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Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Well, the four-game winning streak for the Milwaukee Bucks has come to an end, thanks to their nail-biting loss to the San Antonio Spurs Monday night.
Winners of all their road contests so far this season, the Spurs came into the game as a rare test for the Bucks so far this year, due to their soft schedule.
After both teams traded the lead back and forth all throughout the first quarter, the Bucks were the first one to truly take control of the game in the second quarter. The key to that was limiting the Spurs to just nine points as they shot 4-of-22 from the field (0-of-7 from deep) during those 12 minutes.
Coming out of halftime, it looked as if the Bucks would continue to break open the game, but the Spurs started to regroup exactly like you’d expect them to.
Although shots started falling for the Spurs, the key for them was to tighten up their defense and limit easy opportunities for the Bucks to score. That was critical as the Bucks were flustered by the Spurs’ renewed energy, which led to some tense moments and even some ejections not long before the third quarter would come to a close.
With the final 12 minutes to go, both teams once again traded the lead as the quarter would go on. Even with Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting on the sideline due to getting into foul trouble, the Bucks not only stayed afloat, but thrived with Jabari Parker leading the way and extending the lead by as much as three with around two minutes left to go.
However, the Bucks offense went dry at a very costly time, opening up the door for the Spurs to close out the game, even with a last minute heroic effort.
So with that, it’s time to take a look at what stood out the most for the Bucks in their loss to the Spurs.
Fresh off of winning Player of the Week honors for the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed no signs of slowing down last night.
Matched up against one of the elite defenders in the league in Kawhi Leonard, Giannis regularly got the best of him, at least in the first half and even delivered him a taste of his own medicine. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you exhibit A:
Aside from his one-on-one matchup with Leonard, Giannis was literally a human highlight factory all throughout the first half. No matter what the situation was, Giannis was ready to reel off spectacular feats.
In the open court:
On cleanup duty:
From three-point range:
Mind you, this was all in the first half! Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to add on to Giannis’ performance from the second half as he came back down to Earth and eventually missed time due to his aforementioned foul trouble.
Regardless, finishing the night with 22 points (on 6-of-12 from the field), 11 boards, two assists, two steals and a block just falls in line with what Giannis has been doing for the season so far. It may have ended more quietly than we would’ve liked, but it was still a glowing performance from the now 22-year old.
From one Bucks cornerstone to another, Jabari Parker turned in one of his most complete performances of the season last night. Parker’s performance didn’t have the Mount Everest-like peaks like Giannis’ had, but he held his own, especially when the Bucks needed him most.
Despite having an average night from the field (Parker shot 6-of-14 from the field), Jabari was a difference maker by making it to the free-throw line 10 times and converting on all of his attempts.
But the part of Jabari’s game that will have everybody talking is his play down the stretch. An extension of his performance against the Nets two nights earlier, Parker was incredibly crucial to the Bucks staying in the game and even holding the lead before it slipped away.
With nine of his points coming in his eight fourth quarter minutes, Parker stepped up both scoring the ball and making plays to set up teammates for scores like this one to Greg Monroe.
All in all, finishing the night with 23 points, adding in eight rebounds and three assists is an incredible confidence booster for a player like Jabari. Even on the defensive end, where we all know he has many weaknesses, Parker was very engaged as he regularly matched up against Leonard for most of his minutes.
It’s definitely the type of performance you want to see, especially against a big-time opponent and last night was just more evidence that Jabari is a player the Bucks can turn to when the pressure is on.
After getting a good run of time in the first half, Mirza Teletovic was ever present in the Bucks effort to hold off the Spurs in the second half.
Replacing Michael Beasley once he was ejected late in the third quarter, Teletovic was the next man up and soundly hit a much need three-pointer upon entering the game.
However, Teletovic’s shooting would come and go and we arguably saw more indecision from the ever confident Bosnian shooter than we have so far in his Bucks tenure as he opted for a few more dribble drives than normal. Despite his inconsistencies, Teletovic played his part in big moments, the biggest being his circus-like pass to Jabari, who promptly hit a wide open three-pointer in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Of course, the biggest mark Teletovic had on the game was his last-second three-point miss that would have sent the game in the Bucks’ favor had it gone in. Frankly, it’s hard to ask for as good of a look that was in rhythm of the play and though we’d all want a certain few in that spot, there’s certainly nothing wrong with Teletovic being the one to try to sink that look.
This is an unconventional way to look at the game, but there might not be a better game than this one so far this year to take a look at Bucks head coach Jason Kidd.
Obviously, it’s very easy for us to play armchair quarterback when it comes to evaluating coaches as we watch from our televisions, computer screens or even live in person. And by nature, we all second guess a coach’s decision, like lamenting if a player has played too long or not enough.
Having witnessed all of his games since coming to the team more than three years ago, I have to say there might not be a more proactively managed game by Kidd. Admittedly, we only have so far to go on, but it was very noticeable to see how Kidd was making his own decisions instead of letting the decisions come to him.
If a player was being outmatched, he’d quickly make a substitution and the same would go for when they needed offense or a stop. In the case of Beasley being ejected or Giannis getting into foul trouble, Kidd turned to players who could make the best impact on the team in tight situations.
Even just looking at the team’s final possession of the game, it’s hard to say that Kidd could have put the team in a better position from his view on the sidelines. Sure, there are a few things that we can all quibble with Kidd as we all often do, but with a valiant effort such as this, it’s important to recognize the person who is in the most control to make that happen.