It can be tempting after a bad loss to feel like the sky is falling or wanting to bring back old wounds and apply them to the present. However, I believe that as Milwaukee Bucks fans, we can be more optimistic than that and if we take a step back from the emotions of the moment, the numbers would support that optimism.
Of course, the Bucks fell to their first round opponent, the Miami Heat, 130-117 in Sunday’s Game 1. Rather than panicking, here are three things the team must improve upon moving forward.
What the Milwaukee Bucks can improve after Game 1 loss: Keep shooting
The Milwaukee Bucks had one of their worst 3-point shooting games of the entire season. There are a few factors that go into it, such as ball movement, shot selection, and adjusting to playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who creates open looks for his teammates often. That said, the Milwaukee Bucks have done these things well during the season.
The Milwaukee Bucks had the eighth-highest 3-point percentage this season, so there is no reason to say that after one bad game shooting compared to the 82-game sample size of the regular season that the Bucks should stop shooting threes.
As for the ball movement, the Milwaukee Bucks were 12th in assists per game during the regular season. There is room for growth there, however, there isn’t a reason to panic that the Bucks can’t improve their ball movement because we’ve seen it. The Milwaukee Bucks had 15 games during the regular season with 30 or more assists and were 14-1 in those games. So there is a strong correlation between high assist totals and winning. However, the Bucks only had three such games during their 16-game winning streak that spanned eight days in January, all of February, and into March. Also, the Bucks didn’t have a single 30-assist game during their 9-0 start to the season, so they’re capable of winning even without high assist numbers.
Shot selection is always important and making the adjustment to how you’re going to get shots for your team after a player with one of the highest usage rates goes down in the first quarter is a tall task, one the Bucks struggled with at times. The Bucks made a few runs at Miami’s lead but ended up letting the Heat push the lead back out, but it wasn’t all because guys were taking shots without making passes; while that certainly did happen some, there were other instances where the Bucks just didn’t make shots.
The Bucks shot 11-of-45 on 3-point attempts Sunday, 24.4 percent, over 12 percent below their season average. If they keep shooting, the numbers are on their side, and their shooting will improve as they continue to get good looks.