Milwaukee Bucks: 3 key adjustments going into Game 2 of Brooklyn Nets series

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 05 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 05 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Mike Budenholzer
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 05 (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The second round of the NBA Playoffs commenced with a stellar performance in Brooklyn between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night.

It was a night, though, that went in the Nets’ favor as they pulled out a 115-107 victory in Game 1 to go up 1-0 in the series. Even considering the hot start the Bucks got off to in the first quarter, the Nets delivered quite the onslaught that led to taking control of the game and the Bucks never recovered.

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It certainly didn’t help that the Bucks struggled to make shots from 3-point range and anywhere outside of the paint and they obviously couldn’t keep up with the Nets’ firepower, even after having lost James Harden early on in the night.

Now as Milwaukee looks to steal a game on the road before heading back home for Games 3 and 4, we look at three key adjustments that could help the Milwaukee Bucks secure a win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2.

Coach Budenholzer needs to adjust the minutes of the Bucks’ Big 3

After his excellent lineup choices and minutes distribution in the first round against the Miami Heat, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer reverted to cutting down on his starter’s minutes in this game. The Bucks’ Big 3 of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday played around 35-37 minutes, especially as the game got away from the Bucks towards the end.

In stark contrast, Kyrie Irving played 45 minutes, while Kevin Durant, who was in foul trouble, still ended up playing 40 minutes.

Per, the Bucks’ Big 3 played a total of just 20 minutes together and outscored the Nets by seven points in that span. On the Nets side of things, the three-man lineup of Durant, Irving and Griffin strung 63 points in almost 28 minutes of playing time. So, a composition of Bucks’ stars not playing and Nets’ stars demolishing second units created a lead that was tough to overcome even after the starters returned for Milwaukee.

Apart from the ‘Big 3’s’ minutes distribution, Bobby Portis also saw reduced minutes than expected. He could be the key for this team’s small-ball lineup, matching up well against Griffin & Brown, while stretching the floor and attacking the rim too. These extra minutes could be created by restricting Brook Lopez’s time on the floor. Although he was able to consistently be aggressive in the paint, the Nets were able to target him heavily in the second half of the game in pick-and-roll action.

Minutes restrictions has been one of Budenholzer’s major criticisms over his time in Milwaukee and seeing this issue crop up again is concerning, but remediable.

Although it seems pretty straightforward, seeing an increase in playing time for the starting lineup might be a huge adjustment that we can look forward to in Game 2 as the Bucks look to even the series 1-1. As Holiday and Middleton return to better form, we could expect Bud to play them close to 40 minutes. The starters, especially Giannis will be ready to attack from the start and set the tone right after last night’s loss.