Film doesn’t lie: Bucks have small margin for error

First-year head coach Larry Drew's Bucks, who have the NBA's worst record, have lost six games in a row and nine of their last 10.

Mark D. Smith/Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — For Larry Drew, the film doesn’t lie. The Bucks coach tried to hammer that point home to his players in an extended film session Tuesday, as Milwaukee is still chasing its first win since the calendar flipped to 2014.

The Bucks have lost six in a row and nine of their last 10 as they prepare to host Memphis at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Wednesday night before heading to Texas to face Houston and San Antonio over the weekend.

"Just watching film from last night’s game, it’s so glaring," Drew said. "I’ve said it before: Margin for error is very small with our club. We have to come to the realization of that. Last night’s game in the first quarter, we turned the basketball over seven times and I think they capitalized on every turnover. It wasn’t as much of what they did to us but what we did to ourselves. We get into somewhat of a rhythm and we start doing things that are totally out of character — trying things and just making bad basketball decisions.

"I want these guys to play and allow their basketball instincts to take over. They’ve got to be better in their decision making because it compounds things because, let’s face it, we are not a team where we have go-to guys. We have to execute. And when we don’t execute, it just compounds things."

Drew pointed specifically to 19-5 Toronto went on Monday that turned a 19-19 game to the Bucks facing a 38-24 deficit at the end of the first quarter. Milwaukee had to try and play catch up from then on, something the Bucks just can’t do.

"We just made bad decisions on both ends of the floor," Drew said. "We turned the basketball over that led to points by them. Margin for error is very, very small. We have to be better in our decision making and committed to what we are doing.

"A lot of it is not necessarily what we do from an X and O standpoint, it’s just reading situations.  Teams scout us like we scout other teams. We know what they are going to be running and they know what we’re going to be running. It’s a matter of us being able to play out of certain things when teams take things away. Do we have the instincts to combat it? Or do we just make bad decisions?"

When games have been close, the Bucks have been done in by an inability to prevent crucial mistakes from costing them games. Sometimes it’s turnovers, sometimes not getting a rebound or even just not being able to make a shot.

Drew says "without a doubt" guys have tried to do too much in certain situations because Milwaukee is so desperate for a victory.

"If you are trying to do too much that means you aren’t trusting," Drew said. "We’ve been in that situation before where we’re in a game and we try to do it ourselves. Sometimes we get a good result but for the most part they are bad results. We can’t do that. We’re not built that way. We just have to be better decision makers when we are out on the floor, and defensively, we have to be in tune with what we’re doing."

What the Bucks do have is a group still committed to getting better. Drew said Tuesday he isn’t afraid to make changes or not play guys if they aren’t fully committed to the bigger goal. But that hasn’t been a problem despite sitting with the worst record in the NBA at 7-30. 

I’ve said it before: Margin for error is very small with our club. We have to come to the realization of that.

Larry Drew

"I think guys have maintained a positive attitude, I see that as a big plus," Drew said. "Being in this situation, it’s easy to go the other way. It’s easy to jump off the ship. We don’t have anybody that’s done that. We still talk about what we have to do, we still work on what we have to do. Even amidst everything, we’ve maintained a level of professionalism as we go through the struggles.

"We’ve taken from the positives from it, but we also take the negatives. We know we’re a fine-line team. Where we’re at right now, we have to look at where we are and we have to build from it. The guys are committed to doing that."

Henson returns: Bucks forward John Henson participated fully in practice Tuesday after returning to the lineup Monday against Toronto.

Henson scored eight points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked four shots in 17 minutes in his first game after missing seven with a high-left ankle sprain. 

"I thought he was OK," Drew said. "He got a little winded. He just has to get back into the bumping and the grinding and the banging. He’s just got to get back to that."

Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter