Cleat Geeks

Bucks Win Kidd’s Return

The Milwaukee Bucks found a way to grind out a 107-100 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at the Bradley Center. It marked the return of a current and former Buck’s head coach. Current coach Jason Kidd returned for the first time since December 21st and subsequent hip surgery. It also marked the return of Scott Skiles who coached the Bucks from 2008 to 2013. The win marked the fourth consecutive home win for the Bucks.skilesKidd

The Bucks again crushed an opponent in the paint by a score of 62-26. Much of that differential was due to the play of several players. The Greek Freak used his athleticism to get in the paint almost at will totaling 25 points and nine rebounds. He had eight dunks on the night and several other displays of how much athletic ability he has. The Magic were unable to keep him from getting to the rim regardless of the particular defender they were using on him. Greg Monroe scored 21 points and 11 rebounds as he recorded his tenth double double in the month of January.

khris-middleton-jason-kidd-nba-philadelphia-76ers-milwaukee-bucks-850x560Kris Middleton had 25 but also seven assists. Middleton is arguably the Bucks best player right now. He is scoring at high rate but he is not getting selfish. Defenses are trying to take his scoring away by how they play him. He is not forcing shots but rather he is finding his teammates who are open and they are making defenses pay. His is demonstrating maturity by taking what defenses are giving him and not forcing shots. Middleton has now scored over 20 points in seven consecutive games.

This game started off in a bad fashion for many of the same reasons as have been addressed throughout the entire first half of the season. In the two previous losses the Bucks had allowed an eye popping 32 three pointers. The three point theme continued Tuesday night as the Bucks allowed the Magic to shoot 13 of 24 on three pointers. Many times these are caused by the Bucks not recovering quickly enough from the paint when an opponent makes multiple passes around the three point line. This issue has to be addressed in practice. The Bucks are not a good three point shooting team themselves, save the two that Jerryd Bayless hit in the final two and a half minutes, and therefore they cannot afford to get in a three point shooting contest with opponents. Allowing the amount of early long balls that they did played a large role towards the Bucks falling into a 16 point hole by about the middle of the second quarter. Trying to work back into games from those kinds of deficits causes the players to have to needlessly burn energy to get back into the game. Opponents have obviously realized three point defense is a significant weakness in the Bucks defense because opponents are coming out on the Bucks and seeking to shoot threes pretty much from tipoff. The Magic were eight of ten from long range by the middle of the second quarter.

Oct 31, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard O.J. Mayo (00) by Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks guard O.J. Mayo (00) by Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The other big concerning area remains the lack of production from the bench. The Bucks bench was again outscored 36-16. Due to the lack of scoring off the bench the coaches have been forced to leave the starters in to play big minutes. OJ Mayo continues to be hurt with a hamstring injury and his absence is significant. On Tuesday night the Bucks starters logged minute totals of 33, 38, 31, 38, and 36 minutes. These types of minute totals are fine here and there but will cause the starters to become tired or hurt if they occur with any kind of regularity.

The Bucks are finally starting to play with some consistency having won four of six but there remains issues that have to be addressed in order for the team to continue improving. The Bucks continue a road heavy period of the schedule playing four of their next five on the road.

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