The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde was a book released way back in 1886 by the great author Robert Louis Stephenson. In this classic, a London lawyer named Gabriel Utterson investigated his friend Dr.Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. This is probably the best known piece of literature to talk about “split personality” disorder as it talked about the mental anguish that Dr.Jekyll went through as he was going through both good and evil.
Maybe it’s strange to mention a 127-year-old book in the middle of the Bucks/Hawks recap. But it’s extremely relevant when you look back on Milwaukee’s performance and more specifically the play of Monta Ellis. Ellis is definitely an interesting player to analyze because he goes through those stages in a game where he’s both unbearable and remarkable. That was definitely on stage this afternoon as Ellis brough the BMO Harris Bradley Center faithful to their feet in celebration and knees in bitter agony in a span of about 30 seconds in the 4th quarter (I’ll get to that later).
The madness of the NCAA Tournament is still on the minds of most basketball fanatics but this game between the two playoff teams was filled with action from the opening tip-off. The top thing I noticed in the first quarter was not the play of Josh Smith, but Ersan’s overall defensive struggle. This was Ilyasova’s return game after being out for about a week because of problems with his hip and back. Now, I wasn’t expecting Ersan to play lockdown defense on Smith because that’ll be ridiculous but I kind of noticed that he was lackadaisical while facing off against Smith. In all honesty it probably wasn’t the best move for Boylan to place a recovering player on one of the most athletic forwards in the NBA but I just wanted to see more out of Ilyasova on the defensive side of the ball.
Through out most of the first half, the Bucks offense was dependent on the mid-range shot which was falling for the team in that opening half but still wasn’t the best option when you take a look at the shot chart below which shows how inefficent the team is when they shoot the ball between 15-23 feet.
While Milwaukee were working just inside of the perimeter, Atlanta was killing the Bucks inside the paint with Horford and Smith. Al Horford (24 points and 7 rebounds), Smith (23 points and 9 rebounds) just outworked Ilyasova and Sanders even though they both had solid offensive games. Larry Sanders is one of the best post defenders in the league but that still wasn’t enough to stop Horford and his plethora of post moves.
Remember when I talked about the Jekyll and Hyde effect with Monta Ellis? He looked like Hyde through out most of the game simply because of his defense. Monta has always been known as a below average defender which I agree with because he’s more focused on being a help defender on a pick and roll which leaves his man open to shoot threes. Just that small aspect of his game irritates me because I know that he has the quickness to play on-ball defense against most players in the league but he just gets distracted for most of the time.
Milwaukee and Atlanta entered the 4th quarter tied at 74, but Atlanta took an early quarter lead on the backs of Devin Harris (16 total points) and Jeff Teague (14 points and 8 assists). While they had solid games, Monta Ellis appeared to redeem himself by putting on an absolute show late in the quarter by putting down 11 points within a span of four possessions. That output put the team up by 5 points with 2:45 left in the game but it quickly turned ugly for not only Monta Ellis but the Bucks as a team.
Earlier I mentioned how great the Hawks front court of Horford and Josh Smith played in the game but they also brought the team back late in the game as they making their way to both the basket and the free throw line. One of the main reasons that happened was because Boylan left Ersan in the game to face Smith which allowed him to speed past the hobbled Ilyasova to an easy look around the basket. While the defense struggled in the closing moments of the game, the offense was just absolutely abysmal because of the poor execution of Monta “Edward Hyde” Ellis. He committed a turnover with 22 seconds left to put Atlanta up by a point. Around twenty seconds later, Monta had the ball in his hands with the game on the line but put up an awful off-balance three-pointer that would have tied the game but there were still 11 seconds left in the game.
The Bucks’ meltdown sinks the team below .500 and leaves them 2 games behind the Celtics, who have lost four in a row.