After an exhilarating victory Saturday night versus the Cavaliers, the Bucks came out and laid an egg in Washington against the Wizards, as they were blown out 115-86. Milwaukee held a lead going into the second quarter at 29-27 but then the wheels on the train began to wobble off. The Wizards outscored the Bucks by twenty points in a devastating manner, dismantling their defense by cutting through like a knife in Swiss cheese. There are lots of things to dissect, so let’s go through the Bucks one-by-one and assess each of them a grade.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, C-
The Greek Freak had troubles putting the ball in the hoop, as he went just 3-13 from the floor. Giannis seemed to be wild and inaccurate, which never bodes well for him. When his game gets thrown off the tracks, he tends to lose his composure and rhythm out on the floor, negating his traditional fluidity on the offensive side of the ball. Numerous misses came from inside the paint, which was generally a flail of the arms and a prayer that the ball would go in instead of laying it up and in. At one point, Giannis got passed his defender but seemed surprised that he did. He then ended up rushing the shot, cementing a poor effort that hit pure glass and no iron from the rim and was corralled by the Wizards. Giannis also had four turnovers, tying him with Michael Carter-Williams for the most in the game. Once again, Antetokounmpo racked up fouls that resulted in him having to miss minutes of the game. Giannis committed another mistake after a missed free throw by Washington, as he was called for a loose ball foul that ended up negating a defensive rebound for the Bucks and instead handed the Wizards two free points. This continues to be something Giannis needs to shed light on. It’s great knowing Giannis is only 20 years old, but sometimes his youth shows just a little too much on the court.
Greg Monroe, D+
Monroe had an uncharacteristically unproductive game, as he only put up four points on a horrific one-of-six shooting. The big man failed to even register double digit rebounds, breaking a streak of three consecutive games with at least 10 boards. The Moose was unable to break out any of his signature spin moves down low that Bucks fans have been treated to in games prior, as the Wizards defense was able to contain him down low in the post. Monroe’s style of play really begins with his footwork in the post, as if he is unable to implement that quickly after he catches the ball, it’s usually worked back outside for a better shot. We didn’t see much of Monroe’s footwork tonight, which ended up being a bad thing for himself and the Bucks. It also resulted in a -26 for Monroe, which was the lowest of any Buck during the game.
Jerryd Bayless, B+
After being inserted into the starting lineup in place of the injured Jabari Parker, Jerryd Bayless took advantage of the opportunity he was provided with. His hot streak from three-point land continued tonight against the Wizards, as he knocked down three triples and ended up with 13 points. At times Bayless seemed to take over the point guard position, even though Michael Carter-Williams was slated in at the one spot. Bayless was also able to get to the free throw line six times, but only converted on half of those attempts. A pair of threes got him going in the first quarter, as his percentage from deep continues to be something intriguing to look at. Expect Bayless to be a key part of the Bucks plans in the upcoming games, especially if O.J. Mayo and Jabari Parker remain to be sidelined.
Michael Carter-Williams, D
For what continues to be an unfortunate pattern, turnovers once again defined Michael Carter-Williams’ night. The point guard was never really able to find his groove. Immediately out of the gates, he committed a pair of turnovers, both of which led to Washington points. So far this season, MCW is averaging 3.6 turnovers per game. Tonight he had four, all of which threw off any of the momentum the Bucks seemed to have going. Out of all his stats from tonight, one really catches the eye. Zero assists. That cannot happen in this style of an offense, especially with the legendary point guard Jason Kidd acting as maestro on the sideline. Carter-Williams is viewed as the distributor of the offense. If he doesn’t fulfill that role, the Bucks will find themselves in no man’s land and falling behind like they did tonight.
Khris Middleton, B-
Middleton led all of Milwaukee in scoring with his 14 points. However, he could have had a lot more than 14 points but foul trouble impeded him from scoring anymore. Middleton quickly racked up fouls and was forced to sit, taking away from a hot scoring option that the Bucks could go to. A domino effect ensued, as the Bucks offense went stale and Washington took advantage of it, building their lead each time down the floor. Like Bayless, Middleton was able to get to the free throw line six times, but failed to convert on four of them. Typically a reliable free throw shooter, it was rare to see Middleton fail to knock down his shots from the charity stripe. Aside from his foul trouble, that was definitely his most negative contribution to the loss. Middleton is the glue that helps hold this team together, and when he is rolling from the offensive side of the ball, there’s a high chance that the rest of the team is as well. It was frustrating to see him knocking down shot after shot but knowing he would have to sit due to foul trouble and disrupt the continuity that the Bucks had going, and that’s just what occurred. Middleton is arguably the Bucks’ greatest scoring threat, and when he can’t even be out on the floor, the defense is able to lock up Milwaukee’s other offensive assets. If Khris Middleton was out of foul trouble, this game had the capability of being a whole lot closer.
Johnny O’Bryant, B-
The second-year forward out of Louisiana State University is going to have some big minutes coming his way with Jabari Parker sidelined. He didn’t receive the start tonight in Washington, but he played significant time, especially with Khris Middleton riding the bench early due to foul trouble. O’Bryant ended up getting 25 minutes on the court. Now, he may not have scored a point, but at this point, nobody really expects him to. His jump shot has been improving, but for the most part, Johnny O’Bryant seems to serve more as a body that can sky for rebounds and play defense. He was able to corral in five rebounds tonight, including one that resulted in a foul on Kris Humphries. Now, as we progress into Thursday’s game against the Cavaliers, O’Bryant is going to have to start getting some numbers in the points column. The Bucks are going to need to be able to get some points in Jabari’s absence. In the end, it’s really going to come down to O’Bryant’s jump shot. He has shown that he can catch the ball in an open space and shoot from the elbow. It’s just a matter of if he can make it or not. If shots are falling for O’Bryant, that’s good news for the Bucks.
John Henson, A-
Henson was one of the Bucks’ bright spots in an otherwise catastrophic performance. In his 16 minutes played, Henson went three-of-three from the floor, resulting in 10 points. He was also able to get to the free throw line six times. In a game in which Greg Monroe was virtually absent, it was key for Henson to step up and contribute. It may not have made much of a difference in the result of the game, but Henson stepping up is vital for this Bucks team. He has proven to be the Bucks’ sixth man, and his performance in tight games can be the difference maker in a loss or victory for the team. He also may be used more at the forward position, barring how long Jabari is out.
Greivis Vasquez, B+
From what began as a train wreck, Greivis Vasquez has slowly implemented himself into one of the more vital pieces to the puzzle in the Bucks offense. In his last three games, Vasquez is averaging 13.3 points, including 43.75 percent on three-pointers. He’s finally showing that he can in fact be a spark off the bench, which was one of the reasons the Bucks traded for him in the offseason. If O.J. Mayo continues to be sidelined (hopefully he returns for Cleveland), Vasquez will continued to be looked at as a player who can strike from downtown, something that is a key contribution from the Bucks’ bench. As I said before, Bucks fans are being treated to the Vasquez experience. Don’t be surprised if he reverts back to his season-beginning roots in Thursday’s game against the Cavaliers. Raptors fans will say that you will never really know what you will get with Vasquez. However, in tonight’s game, Vasquez did his job thoroughly as he shot five-of-seven from the floor and will continue to look to contribute off the bench in any way possible.
Rashad Vaughn, B-
The rookie from UNLV received only garbage time minutes, but was able to somewhat take advantage of them. Vaughn scored five points in 11 minutes, including a three-pointer. However, the rookie still seems to be unable to grasp the same mentality he took into the preseason. Perhaps it’s a confidence issue, as he just seems to not be as aggressive as he was when he got minutes in the preseason. If he wants to be able to blossom and gain more minutes during meaningful time, Vaughn is going to have to present his case to Kidd and the coaching staff by proving he can get to the rack and unleash his scoring capability. That’s what he did at UNLV and it resulted him getting selected by the Bucks. It may take a little time for him to advance his game to the point where he’s playing meaningful minutes, but it definitely is not an impossible task to accomplish. Once his confidence is gained back, Vaughn will regain the traction of his explosive scoring abilities.
To sum up, tonight was definitely a pathetic performance. One of the most egregious statistics from tonight’s performance came down to the free throw line opportunities. The Wizards and John Wall pick apart the Milwaukee defense, showing why they were rated as the second-highest paced offense in the entire NBA. By rushing up and down the court, Washington was able to make Milwaukee comfortable and not in proper defensive positioning, resulting in fouls near the rim. This transpired to the Wizards getting to the free throw line 41 times compared to the Bucks’ 24. The Wizards connected on 29 of their 41 while the Bucks were only able to sink 14 of their 24. This poor free throw shooting percentage from the Bucks seemed to come out of nowhere, as up until tonight, Milwaukee led the entire league in free throw percentage. Fouling continued to be one of the Bucks’ many weaknesses and something they need to address — the sooner the better. One can make the safe bet that LeBron and the Cavaliers will be seeking revenge on Thursday night when the teams square off for the second time in less then a week – this time on national television. If tonight was any foreshadowing, the Bucks are in for a long night against the defending Eastern Conference champs in Cleveland. However, they will have an off day to correct their mistakes and plan for the Cavaliers. They will also be crossing their fingers that O.J. Mayo will be able to return to play, as his hamstring has sidelined him for the entire regular season so far. Rumor is that there’s also a slight chance Jabari Parker may be ready to go, but don’t get your hopes up. He could go Saturday in Indianapolis, but will most likely sit out the entire road trip. One thing is certain going forward: The Bucks definitely have their work cut out for them in the upcoming two games.