Cleat Geeks

Bucks Drop Track Meet To Thunder

For the second time in as many nights the Milwaukee Bucks fought valiantly against a talented Western Conference opponent but again came out on the short end this time falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder 131-123.okcVSbucks

The Thunder are a dangerous team if you limit their offense to their two main stars of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. They again did plenty of damage on Tuesday night by scoring 53 combined points. Their team becomes even more dangerous if you allow the various role and bench players in place around them to go off for big nights around them. Unfortunately for the Bucks they allowed several big nights from several of those players as well. The Thunder got 53 points in the game off their bench including Enes Kanter scoring 23.Cameron Payne scored 16 and Anthony Morrow added 10 more. Payne and Morrow both hit several big three pointers in the fourth quarter to keep distance between the hard charging Bucks and the Thunder. Westbrook and Durant are some of the most talented players in the league and they are going to put up numbers on a nightly basis. The problems occur when allow their teammates to become significant contributors as well.

krisMiddletonThe Bucks were down nearly all night but they kept the game close behind many quality efforts. Khris Middleton scored a career high 36 points and Greek Freak scored 27 points. Michael Carter Williams nearly posted a triple double by scoring 19 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. The Bucks also did a good job of moving the ball. On multiple occasions tonight they used several nice back door passes to create easy lay-ups or dunks. The Bucks had assists on 29 of their 49 field goals. The Bucks as a team scored over 30 points in three of the four quarters so the Bucks scored enough points to win this game The reasons for the Bucks defeat is they also gave up over 30 in three of the four quarters defensively. The offensive performance was good enough to get the Bucks a win but the defense was not good enough as the Bucks allowed the Thunder to shoot 50% for the game.

Two other issues also played a role in the loss. One of those is bench production. The Thunder scored 53 points of the bench compared to the Bucks getting 32 from their bench. The bench scoring statistic is telling because the point totals of Durant and Westbrook and Greek Freak and Middleton virtually cancel each other out hence making the 20 point differential in bench scoring a game changing statistic.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (11) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

A final problem area for the Bucks is foul and free throw differential. The Bucks got 19 fouls called on the Thunder. Those fouls turned into 22 Buck’s free throws but they only converted 15 of them. The Thunder meanwhile took advantage of 26 Buck’s fouls by shooting 37 of 40 at the line. The free throw differential is another key area of difference in points. The Bucks were called for so many fouls because the Thunder have several players who are very athletic and have an aggressive mentality of attacking the basket. Meanwhile there were chunks of the game where the Bucks were jump shot dependent.

The competition gets no easier for the Bucks who will face the Pacers, Timberwolves, Spurs and Bulls over the next four games. If they hope to win any of those four games there defense will need to be dramatically better because when you allow opponents to shoot 50% you have almost zero chance of getting a win in the game because of the amount of pressure you put on your offense to match score for score.

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