Bucks vs Celtics Game Recap (10/26/17)


Just over a week after the Bucks won their season opener in Boston, the Celtics returned the favor by spoiling Milwaukee’s “Return to the MECCA”. The Celtics handed the Bucks a 96-89 loss, and highlighted Milwaukee’s achilles heel in the process.

Defensively, Boston sagged off of Antetokounmpo and clogged the lane in attempt to slow down the league’s leading scorer in the paint. And for the most part, the Celtics’ strategy worked. Giannis came into this game averaging close to 27 points per game in the paint alone, and he finished last night with just 28 total points on 10 of 21 shooting.

The primary problem for Milwaukee was never more evident than last night. The lack of flow to the Bucks’ offense, along with poor spacing, left their offense looking incredibly lackluster for long stretches of time. NBA.com credited the Bucks with 17 turnovers, while basketball-reference.com had the total at 15. Either way, this isn’t a terrible number, but the majority felt like simple mental mistakes rather than the result of aggressively trying to make a play.

Despite all of this, the Bucks outshot the Celtics both from the field and from 3pt; but Boston went 19-22 at the free throw line compared to Milwaukee’s measly 8-14. Giannis made 6 of his 7 free throw attempts, while the rest of the team made just 2 of 7.

In the 2nd quarter, the Bucks flashed their defensive brilliance. Their rotations were on point, and they did a good job contesting shots. As a result, the Celtics started the 2nd quarter by making just one of their first 12 shots over the course of five minutes. The problem, though, is that the Bucks scored just 4 points during that stretch. Milwaukee held Boston to 6-22 shooting for the quarter and limited them to just 15 points.

Milwaukee led for much of the 3rd quarter before back to back Al Horford three-pointers regained the lead for Boston. Two straight post-iso scores by Greg Monroe pushed the Bucks back in front, but a Horford tip-in at the buzzer gave the Celtics a lead they would not relinquish again.

Just over four minutes into the final period, Boston opened their lead up to double-digits. This is when Milwaukee’s offense really seemed to falter. Antetokounmpo, who totaled 41 minutes for the game, played every minute in the 4th quarter. He shot just 2-6 for the quarter, with two assists and two turnovers. His first made field goal of the quarter didn’t come until 1:28 remaining, when the game was fairly well already decided. Giannis hit two three’s on two straight possessions to give Milwaukee a brief feeling of hope, but it was too little too late.

Antetokounmpo was largely a non-factor offensively in the 4th, and that’s as much a fault of the Bucks’ offense as it is a credit to the Celtics’ defense. Boston, as I mentioned earlier, did a great job tailoring their defensive game plan around Giannis. Also worth noting is the great on-ball defense by C’s rookie Semi Ojeleye in this quarter. He forced Antetokounmpo into some low percentage post-fades rather than allowing him to get into the paint.

Throughout the night, Milwaukee’s lack of spacing and player movement effectively stymied their own offense. This was very discouraging for Bucks’ fans, who have high expectations for this year’s team. Defensively, Milwaukee played well enough to win this game, or to at least have a chance to win it late. But the poor offense over the course of the 4th quarter left them out of arm’s reach down the stretch.

It’s games like these that leave people questioning whether Jason Kidd can continue to get the job done as Head Coach. There’s no doubt he has been instrumental in Giannis’ development as a player and as a leader. But we need more consistent spacing, movement, and offensive actions to take the step from simply middle-of-the-pack to truly being a contender. If the Bucks continue to try and win games with a “Giannis Vs The World” mentality better, savvier coaches will consistently outduel Kidd, much like Brad Stevens did last night.

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks' supporter I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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