Fresh off a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Joe Prunty's first game as an interim head coach, the Milwaukee Bucks aimed to repeat against the same foe on Friday.
Unfortunately, all of the energy that was on display in Milwaukee's previous contest was absent in this rematch with Cleveland in the second half. After leading by three at the break, the Bucks' offense was tough to watch in the second half, as they shot a mere 13-of-43 (30.2 percent) from the floor over the final two quarters of action.
The Cavaliers took full-advantage, having outscored Milwaukee by 15 throughout the second half. When the Bucks are struggling to hit shots this mightily, it's extremely difficult for them to secure a win due to their ongoing struggles defensively. The Cavaliers secured a 112-100 win and finished their regular season series with the Bucks 2-2.
Let's look at how they got there, including a big announcement that came along the way.
Amid freezing-cold second half, Bucks make big announcement in loss to Cavaliers
During the second half, the Bucks announced that they had officially hired Doc Rivers to be their next head coach, a move that was inevitable but took longer than expected to make official. The Rivers era is likely to begin Monday when the Bucks take on the Denver Nuggets, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, and everyone is interested to see how things go.
Circling back to that horrendous second-half, none of Milwaukee's stars could buy a bucket with any consistency over the final 24 minutes. Damian Lillard shot just 1-of-12, Khris Middleton was 2-of-7, Giannis Antetokounmpo was 2-of-6, and Brook Lopez was 3-of-8. The odds of winning when these four players cannot throw a rock in the ocean in a second half are quite slim.
Still, Antetokounmpo nearly had another triple-double, having finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.
One positive was the play of Bobby Portis and Jae Crowder off of the bench. Portis gave the team a massive spark with 12 points while hitting all three of his 3-point attempts. Crowder chipped in six points and three rebounds while holding his opponents to 2-of-7 shooting, per NBA.com. The bench has had their struggles this season, so these were welcoming performances.
On the other side of the ball, Donovan Mitchell continued to show why he's one of the best guards in all of basketball, having scored 32 points while making six triples. The Bucks had no answer for him whenever he had the ball in his hands. Meanwhile, it didn't help that Jarrett Allen had 24 points and 14 rebounds as he continued his recent trend of thriving whenever he sees Milwaukee on the schedule.
Whether it's Prunty or Rivers at the helm, something that cannot be lost during the coaching change is minutes for Andre Jackson Jr. The rookie has not played in the two games under Prunty after he had just carved out a role for himself prior. He has his flaws, but Jackson can give this team a major spark defensively whenever he steps on the floor. He cannot be forgotten in the rotation.
The Bucks have one more game of the Prunty era before Rivers takes over, and the hope is that this loss can help fuel them against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.