So we’re back to this again, huh?
The good news is the Milwaukee Bucks have no more back-to-back-to back games this season. The bad news is that it probably doesn’t matter much.
Also playing their final game of a back-to-back-to-back stretch, the Indiana Pacers rolled over the Milwaukee Bucks 125-104 on Saturday night. The Pacers dropped a 35 spot in the third (led by 11 points from George Hill), leaving the final quarter in the hands of human victory cigar lineups.
Milwaukee had no remedy for the pterodactyl arms of 7’2” Roy Hibbert or the massive bulk of David West, and relied heavily on three pointers (10-21) to keep the game from getting too far out of hand. The Bucks also couldn’t hit anything from mid-range (8-38, 21% between the paint and perimeter).
Milwaukee’s defense was sparse; they had no post presence, and were forced to take lots of mid-range jumpers thanks to Indiana’s gaggle of lengthy defenders. The whole thing felt like s throwback to mid-February, where the Bucks were struggling to find an identity and dealing with as many frustrations off the court as they had on it.
MVP: Ersan Ilyasova
This was one of those games where someone had to lead the team in scoring. Ersan Ilyasova wore that honor with pride, scoring 22 points on 15 shots, and pulling 6 of his 8 rebounds off the offensive glass. Ersan was good, as always, but praising personal statistics becomes a lost cause when the game’s outcome is decided by halftime.
I flew back from Orlando last Sunday night with a plane filled with Disney vacationers. Halfway through, a plethora of mouse ear-capped kids on board started crying, singing, and talking; a sure sign of kiddie exhaustion. That’s essentially what it felt like watching the Bucks play on Saturday. Milwaukee just looked like a kid ready to go home and sleep.
This should delight you: Assists
Even in a blowout, the Bucks were passing the rock well (30 team assists on 40 baskets). The mid-range area was the blackest of black holes (21% FG), but Milwaukee continued to move the ball despite a lack of shooting success.
This should concern you: No defense
It’s funny how problems can shift so quickly in the NBA. The Bucks’ once-stout defense is just as bad as their offense was a year ago. Milwaukee got a few scorers, through internal development or otherwise, at the expense of Scott Skiles’ coaching forte.
What would you prefer: A consistent 100+ points each night, while giving up 110, or 85 points while giving up 93? It doesn’t really matter if the end result is the same.
Final verdict: Back-to-back-to-break
Milwaukee has now dropped two straight games against the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. And both games really weren’t that close. The Bucks entered the weekend with a chance to prove their staying power against decent teams.
Instead, the team is faltering while the Knicks and Celtics are finding their playoff rhythms. The Bucks still have a shot at squeaking into the eighth seed, but if they’re losing by 10-20 points to the fifth and seventh seeds, what would a series against the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat look like?