Milwaukee Bucks: Can the second unit find a groove without Bobby Portis?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 24 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 24 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks find themselves on a three-game losing streak following their ugly blowout loss to the LA Clippers Monday night. 

While this skid can be attributed to several things, one of which included only have eight available players for a game, one of the more apparent issues is the absence of Bobby Portis. The team’s sixth man has missed the past three consecutive games after being forced to enter the league’s health and safety protocols.

More from Bucks News

Leading Milwaukee’s bench brigade this season by averaging 11 points on .538/.480/.737 shooting splits, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game, his production has been sorely missed.

When exactly Portis will be cleared to return remains up in the air, particularly as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski noted that he did not travel with the Bucks on their current Western Conference road trip. 

That leaves Milwaukee without Portis likely for the next five games, potentially more if he indeed does return a positive COVID-19 test. While only time will tell the specifics of the situation, we all hope Portis is in good spirits during his time away from the team.

The Milwaukee Bucks miss Bobby Portis to jumpstart their struggling bench unit.

Even with Portis in the lineup, Milwaukee’s bench scoring has been far from consistent this season, currently ranking 17th in points per game.

Without him in this stretch, their scoring production has been all over the place, finishing with point totals of 43, 30, and 22. Being without Portis for an extended period will certainly leave big shoes to fill in the second unit, but the Bucks have several pieces that are more than capable of stepping up to the plate.

The first two obvious choices to defer to for support are Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton, two players that have thrived in supporting roles this season. With Connaughton, it is more about being a jack of all trades, but his new and improved 3-point shot has helped turn his game up a notch entirely. Playing a career-high 22.9 minutes per game this season, the guard has become a reliant piece in the rotation, meaning all eyes will be on him to spark some offense off the bench.

As for Forbes, his strongest attribute is undoubtedly his stellar 3-point shooting by currently knocking down a career-best 44.6 percent of his triples this season. However, his percentage from deep over the past three games stands at just 33.3, and the Bucks desperately need him to turn things around. The guard can get the hot hand from long-range on any given night, something that would provide a massive boost with their leading reserve scorer sidelined.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo has also served as a bright spot in this gloomy stretch of games. Typically known for his energetic presence, the 28-year-old has expanded his game greatly, most notably with his scoring. While Thanasis will not have the ball in his hands all too often, a few possessions, anything he provides offensively is certainly an extra boost.

Lastly, Milwaukee’s rookie trio of Jordan Nwora, Sam Merrill, and Mamadi Diakite have also gotten some extended burn in this recent run due to injuries. Each has displayed individual potential to some degree, and these circumstances could lead to them seeing more opportunities during this road trip.

3 reasons why Jeff Teague is a solid addition. dark. Next

All in all, the Bucks have the personnel off the bench to stay afloat without Bobby Portis, but it has been a rough stretch thus far. Hopefully, with five more games left on the road trip, the bench can find some momentum in his absence.