Feel that rush of air? That’s from the number of Bucks fans breathing a huge sigh of relief, as Milwaukee finally produced a convincing blowout victory, defeating the Pistons 109-88. The Bucks were in dire need of something to go their way after a disconcerting road trip that saw them go 0-3. For the entire game, everything seemed to go positively for Milwaukee. Let’s take a glance at what fans could learn from tonight’s blowout performance.
The defense proved itself.
Prior to tonight’s game, the main struggle of the Bucks’ season so far could be pointed at one aspect of the game – defense. One of the biggest causes of concern in that porous defense was fast-break points. Against Indiana this past Saturday night, a catastrophe ensued when the Bucks tried setting up any sort of transition defense. A lack of recognition of who was guarding who during change of possessions carved Milwaukee up, as Indiana totaled 21 fast-break points. Defensive coach Sean Sweeney has emphasized the importance of stopping the basketball on fast break transitions. He feels that whatever an offense throws at the Bucks, it can be limited if the responsibility of making the stoppage of the ball in transition is the number one priority. Strong transition defense was one of the many reasons why Milwaukee was victorious against Detroit in such a heavy manner. Every time down the court, a Bucks player matched up with a Piston, trimming down the odds of a basket being scored in seven seconds or less. Only one time was a man unmarked coming down the floor, which was when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope knocked down a wide open three. Outside of that single play, the Bucks transition defense laid down the barricades on the Pistons, holding them to only 11 fast-break points.
Playing sound fundamental basketball will win games.
Rebounding has been a major headache to the Bucks so far in this young season. However, last night, the team did well in that department, blocking out well and limiting Pistons possessions. Nobody seemed to ever become overexcited and fade out of a defensive possession too early, something some of the young Bucks have been guilty of in recent games. One of the biggest threats coming into the game was league-leading rebounder Andre Drummond. For the most part, Greg Monroe was able to keep him in check. Granted, he scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, but with the previous stats he’s put up in some earlier games this season, Bucks fans will gladly accept this outcome.
Recognition and rotation help make this defense work.
As hinted on regarding the fast break, constant recognition helped establish a level of consistency with the defense. The same transpired on the perimeter, as the Bucks held Detroit to only six made threes on a total of 28 attempts. The two first bolded nouns in the statement above are why this occurred. Communication was heard throughout the night, as the Bucks were able to not lose track of many of their men. Switches were constantly made on off ball screens, ensuring Detroit would not end up with any open shots, not only on the perimeter, but inside the arch as well. Nearly every time Detroit put up a shot, it seemed as if the fingertips of a Bucks defender was inches away from their noses. With the congruity of constant presence on shots, the Bucks harbored a poor shooting performance from the floor from the Pistons, as they only connected on 31 of 91 field goals. Every time down the floor, each player knew who his responsibility was and made sure to guard that certain player, eliminating the constant struggle of lost men roaming the court, ensuing in a wide open shot. Hopefully this becomes the norm once again for the Bucks, considering how essential it was to their success in last year’s season.
Michael Carter-Williams had the type of game we should expect from him.
As Brandon Knight resembles the hotness of the desert sun down in Phoenix, eyes are quickly being turned onto Michael Carter-Williams, mainly due to jealousy out to what fans see the Bucks could have had in the old scoring point guard. In other words, fans seem to be looking for any reason to bash on the game of MCW. Granted, he may not be playing how the Bucks have envisioned him so far, but last night’s performance was what they hope from him on a consistent basis. One of coach Jason Kidd’s main reasons towards enlisting Carter-Williams as the point guard was his ability to distribute the basketball. That quality was evident as he tallied 12 points and eight assists. Hopefully this is the type of MCW that fans can become more accustomed to seeing in the future, as when his game is on, the rest of the offense seems to follow suit.
Fans should be hopeful that this victory becomes a pacemaker for the Bucks and that they are able to build momentum off of it into the next stretch of games. The season may not be going as some had previously hoped for, but the performance against the Pistons is definitely something to be proud of.