MILWAUKEE — A perfect storm was working against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Playing back-to-back games is something that happens frequently in the NBA, but a team playing on consecutive days while their opponent is fully rested is a tough task.
That’s exactly what the Bucks faced for the first time this season Saturday. Add in the fact that the game was against one of the league’s most talented teams that entered on an eight-game winning streak, the odds were tall.
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Milwaukee was the last team in the NBA to play a back-to-back against a rested opponent and with all its injuries and illnesses the 111-85 loss wasn’t surprising.
However, the Bucks aren’t using that as an excuse. They expected to play better and were disappointed with their showing against the Clippers.
“We just came out with a lackluster effort,” Bucks forward Marquis Daniels said. “We didn’t really come out with the intensity and the fire that we usually have. We got to find a way to correct that. They have a good team with their first unit and their second unit. We make no excuses. They just came out and outplayed us in every area. We just have to come back, regroup, look at film and get better.
“We just have to come out and be ready. It’s really on us. We have to come out, and we have to find it some way. We need to have more energy and intensity.”
Bucks coach Scott Skiles pointed to limiting turnovers as a key to slowing the explosive Clippers fast-break offense. Turnovers weren’t a major issue, but poor shots were. Los Angeles was able to take care of rebounds off the bad shots and still got out running.
The Clippers had a 33-8 advantage in fast-break points and a 33-15 advantage in assists.
“Our offense was really stagnant (Saturday),” Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said. “They did a good job of taking us out of our plays. And they’re very athletic. They have guys who get their hands on balls, stealing the ball, and they get out on the break. And they’re one of the best teams in the league at converting the steals. It really hurt us.”
Defensively, the Bucks allowed the Clippers to have 10 dunks and 13 layups en route to Los Angeles outscoring Milwaukee, 66-28, in the paint.
“That’s a very talented team,” Skiles said. “If you’re going to compete with them, you’re going to need a superior effort, and we had an inferior effort. It’s that simple. We were flat-footed almost the whole night.
“They had 66 points in the paint. Tough to win when that happens. We got caught ball-watching a bunch of times. Just in general, not a very competitive effort.”
Now it’s about bouncing back because a division game looms Tuesday when Indiana comes to the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks dominated from start to finish earlier this season when the Pacers visited Milwaukee. A win Tuesday would give the Bucks a 5-1 start against the rest of the Central Division.
Forward Mike Dunleavy will likely be a game time decision against his former team. The veteran forward keeps testing out his bruised knee, but still hasn’t felt right enough to play.