National Basketball Association
Giannis Antetokounmpo isn't panicking over Milwaukee's four-game losing streak
National Basketball Association

Giannis Antetokounmpo isn't panicking over Milwaukee's four-game losing streak

Published Feb. 17, 2021 11:21 p.m. ET

Panic mode: activated?

The NBA's reigning juggernaut in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks, is in an uncharacteristic slump, having dropped a fourth straight game on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors.

Milwaukee currently sits third in the Eastern Conference (16-12) after posting the best record, best defense, and best net rating in the league for two years running.

This season is a different story, as Milwaukee has the ninth-best record and third-best net rating (7.27), and its defense isn’t in the top 10 in the league (11th). Meanwhile, two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the outside looking in of the MVP conversation.


The questions are swirling: Is this downward skid cause for panic? Does the blame fall on Antetokounmpo, one of the NBA's brightest superstars?

NBA analyst Chris Broussard believes that's the case.

"It boils down to the same thing. I don't care if they were on a four-game win streak, at the end of the game, they don't have a go-to guy. Giannis is great, but at the end of games, they can't give him the ball and say, 'Create something.'"

While Antetokounmpo dropped a game-high 34 points on Tuesday, with 10 rebounds, eight assists and five steals, he failed to find the net in the final six minutes, going 0-for-3 from the field.

He isn't the only player failing to convert during crunch time, as Tuesday offered another example of the Bucks being outplayed in the fourth quarter this season. Against the Raptors, Milwaukee was outscored 12-4 in the final five minutes.

It gets worse, as the team is now 0-9 this season when trailing after three quarters. The Bucks entered Tuesday's contest with the second-lowest win rate when the score is within five points in the final five minutes (22%).

Despite the fact that the Bucks are in unprecedented waters, having never lost four regular-season games in a row under coach Mike Budenholzer (they lost four straight games in the 2018-19 Eastern Conference finals), Antetokounmpo is not worried just yet.

"I kind of have a feeling that everybody is in a panic mode, which should not be the case. ... When you come here, nothing can be easy."

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins agrees – to some extent. He isn't overly panicked about Antetokounmpo & Co., but he believes the franchise has quite a bit of work to do.

"It's not time to panic, but to me, it is time to have some concerns. To me, the Bucks have lost their identity not on the offensive end but on the defensive end. ... The Bucks are going to have to find a way to get their identity back and get their swag back and drip back and make teams fear them again."

Milwaukee has hemorrhaged points defensively, at 8.1 points per 100 possessions worse than last season.

During the four-game slump, the team has given up 119.4 points per 100 possessions while scoring significantly less on the other end: 112.4 points per 100 possessions.

Some of this can be attributed to the fact that the Bucks have been without their starting point guard, Jrue Holiday, for the past five games.

Holiday averaged 16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 32.5 minutes per game in his first 23 games while defending top players on the opposition every night. It's evident the team is missing his presence on both ends of the court.

Holiday’s timeline to return to the court is still unknown, but he likely won't be available when these teams meet again on Thursday at Fiserv Forum.

It might not be time for Milwaukee to press the panic button, but the Bucks should probably press the reset button.


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