Milwaukee Bucks: 3 improvements to make after Game 1 loss to Phoenix Suns

Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 06: (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 06: (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks have to trust Brook Lopez more after Game 1 loss

Brook Lopez may not have been on the floor all that much for Game 1, but he certainly was present for when the Bucks were their lowest, especially during the third quarter.

The Bucks’ strategy of switching everything defensively for the largely switching everything when Lopez was on the floor left Lopez on an island guarding against the Sun’s premier shot creators and maestros, Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Milwaukee has become more comfortable in those spots this year and their playoff run, yet there was a skittishness that surfaced in seeing this repeatedly happen.

So much so that it led to this defensive possession where Lopez switches out on Booker and an overhelping Jrue Holiday comes to crowd the paint as Booker starts getting a head of steam. Holiday’s questionable decision to help left the Bucks burned by Paul hitting one of his four triples on the night.

Those possessions weren’t contained to Lopez on the night for the Bucks as Bobby Portis had to live with guarding the likes of Paul and Booker one-on-one in space to similar hardships.

However, the death by a million mid-rangers and ISOs certainly affected Lopez’s usage and overall minutes load for the night. After the Bucks went to their drop coverage to start out to the second half to plenty of misfortune, Lopez was eventually pulled at the 4:42 mark of the third quarter and didn’t end up seeing a return to the court.

All of this came after Lopez finished with 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting (3-for-5 from three, 0-for-2 from the free throw line), six boards and a block in over 22-and-a-half minutes. By the way, Lopez’s 22-and-a-half minutes were the second-fewest minutes he’s played over the course of the Bucks’ playoff run.

Despite being a -17 in his limited minutes, Lopez buoyed the Bucks’ slumping offense while living with what he could when defending the likes of Paul and Booker in space repeatedly. Again, it wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Bucks simply won’t win this series when Lopez plays as limited of a role as he did in Game 1, even for the small ball success the Bucks had.