Giannis Antetokounmpo returned in explosive fashion, scoring 27 points, but the Bucks cannot close out as they fall to the Washington Wizards 113-118. The Bucks seemingly controlled the first three quarters of the game which included a 13 point halftime lead, but behind the clutch perimeter shooting of Wizards’ guards Bradley Beal, John Wall and Ramon Sessions that lead and control soon dilapidated.
One thing can be taken out of this loss and that is the importance and presence of Giannis when he is playing on the court, as the Bucks seemed like a completely different team than the one that played the Knicks Wednesday. Chemistry was almost abundant as the team totaled 33 assists, and energy as they played quicker and more attentive defensively during the first half of the game. Defense among other mistakes was a different story during the second half.
Here are some positives and negatives from Friday’s game.
Giannis – An eager and energetic Giannis is very good actually and it rubbed off on the team but at times he seemed too energetic. This includes 6 turnovers which two of them early in the game were him simply stepping out of bounds without pressure from the Wizards. He also fouled out near the end of the game, which two early in the game were unnecessary and it really showed how Giannis was too energetic wanting to get his season started.
Perimeter Offense – The Bucks went 7-24 or 29% behind the arc which will not get it done in an NBA game especially against the Wizards who are a three point shooting team. Jerryd Bayless went 2-7, Middleton only made one of four three pointers attempted, and Carter-Williams went 1-5 in which he shouldn’t have even attempted that many long distance shots as he’s not an established shooter yet.
Perimeter Defense – Yes, the most apparent as the Bucks lead slipped away from them late in the fourth. Bradley Beal went off going 4-5 from beyond the arc with most of them coming in the fourth quarter; Sessions and Wall also tacked on clutch threes late in the fourth to increase the Wizards lead. Most of these daggers connected unopposed, especially from Beal as he was wide open for many of his threes. This is a huge problem and can become a reoccurring issue throughout the season as the Bucks had the same problem against the Knicks. This can also be a problem of early season chemistry since the Bucks have many new pieces and like everything new, it takes time to put it all together.
Lack of Bench Scoring – Besides Bayless, the bench only scored 10 points. A key to the Bucks early success last season was their bench scoring. This can be because of the absence of OJ Mayo, John Henson, and mysteriously Rashad Vaughn, but that still doesn’t excuse Vasquez’s absence of scoring a single point.
Fouls – The Bucks had a total of 32 personal fouls throughout the game which got the Wizards plenty of trips to the line, thus free opportunities to score. This can also be an early season chemistry problem but teams much like the bad perimeter defense will continue to exploit that throughout the season.
Giannis – The good of what all fans saw in this game, the return of Giannis Antetokounmpo! His presence and energy changed the whole dynamic of the team and he absolutely exploded in his season debut scoring 27 points and pulling down nine rebounds. He seemed to control the entire dynamic of the game itself in the first half producing highlight reel dunks and smothering the Wizards on defense. The upside to his game, this, will be pivotal for the Bucks this season.
The Quiet Scorers – Giannis was the talk of the game, but four players had quietly impressive games. Greg Monroe continued his dominance in the point scored 22 points, Khris Middleton had an impressive shooting night from midrange scored 18, Michael Carter-Williams after a slow start finished with 13 points along with 11 assists, and Bayless off the bench tacked on 14.
First Half Defense – Wall and Beal made zero impact on the game in the first half which obviously affected the Wizards ability to match the Bucks in scoring. Everything seemed to go as planned as the Bucks made the Wizards two star guards uncomfortable in the first half of play. Unfortunately they couldn’t continue to do that in the second as both went off to Wizards plan.
Flashes of Chemistry – This really seemed to delight many fans as the Bucks had 33 assists in the game. Fantastic passing plays saw the ability this team can have later in the season, especially when they get players back from injury. Coming into the season chemistry and getting used to the new pieces seemed like a big challenge the Bucks would face but tonight fans saw brilliant flashes ahead of schedule.
“There’s a lot we can say improved on even with a loss,” said Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd.
The Bucks will travel to Toronto, Ontario, Canada as they face the Raptors on Sunday.