3 areas the Milwaukee Bucks must improve to repeat as NBA Champions

Dec 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MAY 02 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have had quite a challenging season to follow up their championship run.

From significant injuries to key guys flat out not playing up to their potential, it feels like the deck has been stacked against the defending champs all year. With that being said, it is still possible the Bucks turn a corner and make another run through the East. Here are three areas that the reigning champs must improve if they want to taste the champagne once again come June.

No. 1 – The Milwaukee Bucks must fix their third-quarter woes

The Bucks have struggled in the third quarter of games this year, to say the least. According to NBA.com/stats, they have a net rating in third quarters of -5.7, good for 25th in the NBA, and a full point worse than the tanking OKC Thunder. Those struggles were front and center Saturday night against the hobbled Nets when the Bucks gave up 43 points. Players seem to be just as perplexed as the fans watching, as Khris Middleton and others have acknowledged this is a serious weak point for the Bucks this year.

So what do they have to do to fix this issue? The answer is pretty simple. Get stops. The Bucks rank dead last in the NBA in third-quarter defensive rating at an abysmal 118.4. For context, if you stretched that over an entire season, it would be the worst defensive rating by a single team in at least the last 25 years.

There is no particular weak point the Bucks can target, either. They are bottom five in the NBA in almost every conceivable metric in terms of defensive numbers in the third quarter. The easy answer to this would simply be effort.

The Bucks have come out of the half-lethargic and careless so many times I can’t even count. Obviously, this will not fly come playoff time. The truly elite teams in the NBA will pounce in the third quarter if they see their opponent lacks energy. That was a staple of the Golden State dynasty and was a staple of the Bucks until this year. This is something they need to clean up, and quickly.