Grades from the Milwaukee Bucks’ Game 2 loss to Chicago Bulls

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 20 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 20 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Chicago Bulls: Alex Caruso
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 20 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls Game 2 Grades: Starters

Jrue Holiday: C-

Jrue Holiday posted the exact same statistics he did in Sunday’s opener, 15 points, six assists and six rebounds. However, he turned the ball over two additional times and wasn’t as effective defensively or in the fourth quarter like he had been on Sunday.

The Milwaukee Bucks will need Jrue Holiday to be more effective offensively without Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, like Sunday, was just 6-16 on field goals, missing some easy shots that he normally makes and not physically asserting himself like he did earlier in the game that led to some of his offensive success. Demar DeRozan, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu are not strong enough to handle Jrue Holiday in the paint, he can use his strength to get some points close to the basket and build his confidence to work outward. Jrue did make two of his five three point attempts.

What drops Jrue Holiday’s grade from the C+ I gave him from Sunday’s game to a C- from last night are the turnovers. Several of the turnovers were unforced errors, errant passes as a result of miscommunication or assumption that a teammate would be where he was expecting. One coming at the 4:14 mark after the Bucks won a jump ball after a missed Giannis free throw with the Bucks down just eight, the Bulls made a three off the turnover and pushed the lead back to ten.

Wesley Matthews: B+

Credit to Mike Budenholzer for inserting Wesley Matthews into the Milwaukee Bucks starting lineup, Matthews has played pretty effectively for the first two games of this series. In last night’s loss Matthews scored 11 points on 4-7 shooting and was 3-6 behind the three point line.

Wesley Matthews played good defense but unfortunately was victim to a career night by Demar DeRozan. Matthews did manage to block two shots and played 34 minutes, the most since the Bucks faced the Brooklyn Nets back on March 31st.

Wesley Matthews will need to sustain his production on both ends of the floor in the absence of Khris Middleton.

Khris Middleton: B+

Had Khris Middleton been available down the stretch for the Milwaukee Bucks and been able to help close this game out and potentially deliver a win, this grade could have been higher. Unfortunately, Middleton was taken out at the 6:49 mark in the fourth quarter and did not return. He was initially diagnosed with an MCL sprain, his timetable is not yet known.

The Bulls had pushed their lead back up to 16 early in the fourth quarter, Khris Middleton checked back into the game at the 9:40 mark, the next four possessions for the Bucks were as follows: alley-oop dunk to Brook Lopez, assisted by Middleton, Wesley Matthews drive to the basket for a layup, assisted by Khris Middleton, a layup from Khris Middleton and an and-one layup for Brook Lopez, assisted by Khris Middleton.

Khris Middleton was quiet in the first half, looking like he preferred to be a facilitator more than a scorer and then flipped a switch in the second half, scoring 15 of his eventual 18 points in the second half, Middleton also added five rebounds and eight assists with two steals. He did commit four turnovers, three were in the first half. The Bucks will need the second half version of Khris Middleton in their quest to repeat as champions.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: A-

Giannis was dominant again in game two for the Milwaukee Bucks, similar to game one without the foul trouble. The only thing that keeps Giannis from getting an A is his free throw shooting. Giannis got to the line 18 times but made just 11. Part of what made Giannis so dominant during the NBA Finals last season was his ability to make his free throws and eliminate fouling as a possible strategy against him.

In every other aspect of the game, Giannis was in total control, as he scored 33 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and dished out nine assists. Additionally, Giannis was his usual self on defense, showing his former defensive player of the year prowess with two blocked shots and a steal while being used to defend Nikola Vucevic to slow down the Bulls’ pick and roll.

Looking to game three Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t need to change a single thing, keep doing what you’re doing and sink your free throws. If he does that, there is no reason to think that Giannis can’t drop 40 or more in game three in the likely absence of Khris Middleton.

Brook Lopez: A-

There were two things that kept me from giving Brook Lopez a straight A in this game, one being a short stretch of the fourth quarter where he took two 3-point shots early in the shot clock during the stretch that Khris Middleton had the Bucks offense humming and the Bulls ability to expose his lack of athleticism in their pick and roll offense, Mike Budenholzer has some work to do on figuring out how to negate that.

Aside from that, in both games of this series so far I can confidently say Brook Lopez has been the Bucks’ second-best player, certainly a big help assisting Giannis with the scoring duties. Brook Lopez finished this game with 25 points and six rebounds on 9-16 shooting and 3-6 behind the 3-point line. The Bucks could maintain the claim of a big three with Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez without Khris Middleton if Brook keeps putting up big numbers like he has so far this series.