The first losing streak of the young 2017/18 season is underway as the Bucks faltered against OKC and Charlotte in a disappointing, frustrating, back-to-back. In both contests Giannis encountered foul trouble, restricting his minutes to an average of 30 per game, down on the 39 minutes per game he averaged through the first six.
The Bucks sunk their national tv record to 0-3 on the season as the Thunder rolled into the Bradley Center and dismantled the Bucks, who outside of the foul hampered Antetokounmpo (28 points), failed to have a player reach double digit scoring. The Bucks struggled from the field all night, and in particular from deep, 1-12 at one point, finishing 9-30, as the Thunder were able to put it in cruise control early.
The über efficient Giannis had his first real off-night of the season against the Hornets, finishing with by far his lowest point total of the season – 14 points on 5-16 shooting. All season, the Bucks have been desperate for someone else to help the Greek Freak. Unfortunately the help came on a rare quiet outing for Giannis. Khris Middleton shot his way to a career night, going off for 43 points on an encouraging 5-11 from deep, hopefully a sign of things to come. Reigning rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon also came to play, tallying a season high 20 points.
Unfortunately, it was a familiar tale that the Bucks rued to read, as rookie Malik Monk went off for 18 points in the fourth quarter knocking down four triples, personally scoring 16 of Charlotte’s first 18 in the last.
The bad news for Milwaukee is, the road trip is only just beginning, with three more stops on tap starting with Detroit tomorrow. The Pistons have surprised many, sitting 5-3, particularly when you consider two of the wins came on back-to-back road wins at the Clippers and Warriors.
Former Buck Tobias Harris leads all scorers for the Pistons, averaging 20.3 a a game on a team trying to gain a defensive identity in the early going. The Pistons are limiting teams to 102.1 points per game, good for 9th in the league and well down on the 107.2 the Bucks are giving up.
Milwaukee comes in ranked third in the NBA for three point percentage (39.6%), despite only attempting the sixteenth most triples (26.1), numbers that were boosted by the franchise record nineteen made, and record tying thirty six attempted against Charlotte. Thankfully they are knocking down some shots because the rebounding continues to be woeful, still ranked dead last, an embarrassing 3.8 per game below the next worst ranked team, the lowly Atlanta Hawks.
Andre Drummond, the league’s third ranked individual rebounder with 14.1 a game, figures to give Thon Maker and John Henson fits on the glass and looms as the key player Milwaukee will need to quell if it wants to stay in the contest. In 19 career contests against the Bucks, Drummond averages 14 a game; that figure looks in danger heading into this one.
Jason Kidd inserted John Henson into the starting lineup against Charlotte, replacing the struggling Thon Maker as Greg Monroe remains out with a calf strain. In what feels like the 7,000th time we’ve had to insert Henson into the starting lineup in his career, Hook showed us some new skills. ‘Point Henson’ racked up six assists, some beautifully timed in a decent showing, while also grabbing 10 rebounds in a season high 29 minutes. I remain sceptical to say the least about Henson’s decent run of form to start the season, but unfortunately have to agree, it was the right move to start him.
The Central division rival Pistons figure to be in the battle for Eastern Conference playoff seeding, and the first contest in the four game series could be an important one to look back on later in the season. The Bucks need Giannis to stay out of foul trouble, keep shooting threes, and battle on the glass in this one to halt the losing streak and get back above .500 once more.
Here we are again battling to stay above .500, it has a familiar, comfortable feeling about it doesn’t it?
Lets hope not for long.
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