Throughout the Milwaukee Bucks’ first three games of the 2023-24 NBA season, it was clear that they were working with a lot of new moving parts.
Well, that trend indeed carried over into their fourth game of the year as the Bucks hit the road to visit the Toronto Raptors. The entire contest was pretty hard to stomach, with Toronto assuming control early and never letting up. For most of the night, Milwaukee looked like a deer in headlights on both sides of the ball.
Milwaukee Bucks’ growing pains on full display in beatdown loss to Raptors
Offensively, the Bucks looked like they didn’t know what to do for most of the night. There was no connectivity among the players, which led to a handful of absolutely dumbfounding turnovers.
It was an extremely quiet night for the top guys, as Giannis Antetokounmpo had just 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while Damian Lillard had 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting. These two need to get a bit more shots than that. To their credit, the Raptors played some swarming defense, but still, this is one of the most star-studded duos in the NBA. They have to get the wheels turning.
Another key Buck who couldn’t get it going was Brook Lopez. The big man scored six points, hitting just one of his eight shot attempts. His shot selection was far from terrific, having taken his share of ill-advised and oddly timed jumpers. His defense was nothing to rave about either, and he was only on the floor for 16 and a half minutes because of it.
Much like the offense, the Bucks looked lost on defense. Coach Griffin tried plenty of things to see what would stick, but nothing ultimately did. Particularly, the Bucks struggled to slow down the Raptors in transition, as they feasted by scoring 26 points on the break – the Bucks had just five. The Raptors were dominant in the paint, having scored 66 points down low all night.
On a night that was mostly ugly, Malik Beasley was a bright spot. The shooting guard continued to show he’ll be a valuable addition, having tallied 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from behind the arc. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much help on the offensive end to make this game overly competitive.
It was a small sample size, but the younger Bucks showed glimpses of potential when they were inserted in “garbage time.” Andre Jackson Jr. had a nice steal and dunk, and Chris Livingston had a pair of nice buckets, including a three. These two could perhaps be energy guys whom Milwaukee should consider giving legitimate time in games where they are depleted – like this one.
Ultimately, this was a hard game to watch. Again, these growing pains were to be expected, but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit through. It’s only the fourth game of the season – Bucks are 2-2 – so there’s no reason to panic yet, but this team has a lot of issues to work on. This team is going to have to iron out some kinks on both ends, which will take time.
They will have an opportunity to bounce back against the New York Knicks on Friday.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.