Bucks

Recent Clutch-Time Wins a Welcome Sight for Bucks

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The Milwaukee Bucks have struggled much of this year in close games.

It hasn’t been just one end of the floor, either. The Bucks haven’t been particular good offensively in crunch time. The defensive end has been worse, too.

The tide may have started to swing, though. The Bucks netted three-straight narrow victories last week. The Deer held off a rally by the Grizzlies, edged the Bulls in a rock fight, and won a high-scoring affair over Sacramento last week.

Turning point?

Those three wins were good to see, as clutch situations haven’t been kind to the Bucks this year. Clutch situations are defined as a game within five points with five minutes or less remaining.

After the Bucks’ dramatic comeback victory over the Celtics on Christmas, they had lost five-consecutive clutch situations. In those losses, the Bucks allowed 37 points on 25 clutch defensive possessions (1.48 per).

It wasn’t the most glorious game to watch, but it was good to see the Bucks dig in defensively vs. Chicago and win that kind of game. While it was nice to snag some close wins, it isn’t necessarily indicative of the quality of the team in the regular season.

Before we panic on the way things have been going for the Bucks in close games, the Bucks struggled last year at times in clutch time in the regular season.

We all saw how that turned out.

Don’t panic over the clutch-time record

For proof not to fret over clutch-time issues, the Bucks were 13-15 in clutch games in the regular season last year. The Bucks ended up raising a banner and winning the franchise’s first NBA Championship in 50 years.

The point? They turned around their clutch performance when it mattered. The Deer went 7-2 in the playoffs in such games, holding their opponents to just 75 points on 84 clutch possessions (0.89 per). Part of the issue is likely a letdown following a championship run.

The Bucks haven’t been able to play many games with their closing lineup this season either. The Big 3 (Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo) have played together in just 21 games and Brook Lopez‘s interior defense has been missing since the season opener.

Either way, this past week does little than ease some qualms about close games to the fans and media. Milwaukee is now above .500 in “clutch-time” games at 14-13.

As we saw a season ago, despite the close game struggles in the regular season, the Bucks have many players who have gone through the playoff wars and know how to play down the stretch of close games. The season has been a bit frustrating for the Bucks. They have been pretty banged up, but are 19-4 when the Big 3 play.

If you want to lose sleep over losing some close games you can, but the Bucks showed last year they know how to close down-to-the-wire games in the postseason.

About Mitchell Skurzewski

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