Following a back-and-forth game against the Detroit Pistons the night before that ended with a Milwaukee Bucks win, the team aimed to find more stability against the Indiana Pacers.
That didn’t happen.
It was another turbulent matchup, as the Bucks fell into a massive hole early but fought their way back into the game, eventually retaking the lead despite trailing by as many as 18. The two teams went at each other down the stretch, and the Pacers ultimately came out on top with a final score of 126-124.
It was a gutting loss for the Bucks, who were clearly gassed. While it stings, there are a few things the team can learn from it. Let’s look at them.
What we learned from the Bucks’ gutting loss against the Pacers
First and foremost, these both should be nothing new, but the two biggest takeaways are that Giannis Antetokounmpo is pretty good and that Damian Lillard would have helped in the clutch.
Antetokounmpo was incredible for most of the game, tallying 54 points on 76 percent shooting to nearly will this team to victory. However, in the end, it was clear that he ran out of gas as he had a pair of costly turnovers late after scoring 20 in the fourth. It’s not the result fans wanted, but after a hot and cold start this season, it was great to see Giannis dominate for most of a matchup.
After Antetokounmpo was ejected against Detroit, Griffin was the person to be tossed in the one, as he received a pair of technical fouls in the second half. It appeared that he was arguing a no-call after Antetokounmpo was swarmed down low on offense. Though the ejection may have thrown the team off, it was great to see Griffin stick up for his player.
The Greek Freak had to do most of the heavy lifting with Damian Lillard sidelined with soreness in his calf. One of the most prominent reasons the Bucks had been so good in the clutch this season was the play of Lillard, which was on display the night prior in Detroit. He could have helped them in those final few minutes, but it’s better to prioritize his health.
With that out of the way, this game highlighted the need to give MarJon Beauchamp and rookie Andre Jackson Jr. more time. For a good chunk of the contest – and most of the season – this unit has not been able to find their stride defensively, and these are two players who could help them if given the chance to play consistently.
After seeing 27 minutes against Detroit, Beauchamp was on the court for just 13 against Indiana. He didn’t light it up in those minutes, but the young wing could have made things difficult for the Pacers players, who took advantage of smaller Bucks like Cameron Payne and Malik Beasley on the defensive end instead.
The same goes for Jackson, who played just five minutes. He picked up a pair of quick fouls in that span, but still, that has to be a part of the learning experience. Things like that will happen when a rookie takes the court, and for a team that is struggling with point-of-attack defenders, they need to give him a longer leash and more minutes than five.
Sticking with the wings, Jae Crowder needs more than two total shots. He’s been electric to start the season, especially from behind the arc. He made both of his shot attempts, one of which was a triple, to score just five points. He’s capable of doing more.
Someone who got plenty of shots was Khris Middleton, who, aside from a missed look at the end that would have tied the game, looked good. He scored 19 points on 53.8 percent shooting in just a tick under 20 minutes. He’s still on that minutes limit, but the forward continues to look good as the games go on, which is great.
Ultimately, this is the type of defeat that will sting because it feels like the Bucks let it slip through their fingers. All the Bucks can do is learn from the loss and move forward. The biggest takeaway here is that the young guys should get more time as the team aims to figure it out defensively.
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