The Milwaukee Bucks held a five-point halftime lead before letting it slip away to the Miami Heat at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Wednesday night in Milwaukee. The loss brings the Bucks 23-21 record and a ½ game lead over the Pistons for the seven-seed in the Eastern Conference. Here’s five takeaways from a disappointing loss to the Heat.
- Bucks Lose Another Close One. The Bucks loss tonight was the 11th loss of the season where the Bucks lost by less than 10 points. Those are 11 winnable games that the Bucks could have in the W column. It’s truly alarming when thinking about the difference we could see in the standings if even half of the 11 losses would be wins. So what is the issue? The Bucks lack structure in their offense and defensive philosophies late in games. It was apparent as the Heat went on a 7-0 run in the last few minutes of the game which was the run that put the Bucks to bed in a disappointing loss.
- Tony Snell Shows Up. After an extremely rough stretch of games, Tony Snell showed up in a big way against the Heat. Snell scored 12 points, shooting 4/5 from deep in 24 minutes. Tony Snell needs to offer something offensively to merit a lot of playing time. We saw Tony play important fourth quarter minutes tonight against the Heat, which gives us a good sign that he is feeling good and regaining Jason Kidd’s trust.
- Bucks Struggle with Good Centers. Hassan Whiteside adds to the list of top tier centers that have had their way with the Bucks this season. Poor pick-n-roll coverages cost the Bucks on multiple occasions which led to alley-oops to the freakish athlete Whiteside. He finished with a monster stat line of 27 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. John Henson has plenty of length, but struggles with interior defense as he gets caught in no-mans-land often in post positions. There must be a schematic, attitude, or personnel change with the Bucks big men if the team wants to make a run at a better seed for the playoffs.
- Late Game Coaching. It appears there is little-to-no structure in tight ate game scenarios for the Bucks. The offense is merely a compilation of screens that eventually lead to an isolation situation for one of the Bucks stars. It’s unfortunate for the Bucks to lose these games by such a close margin, but it highlights the true difference between wins and losses. Coach Jason Kidd needs to revamp his late game coaching procedures by putting his players in the best position to win, rather than relying on his young team to do it on its own.
- The Good Khris Middleton. Despite the loss, another positive showing by Khris Middleton is a step in the right direction. Middleton finished with a team-high 25 points on 50% shooting from the floor. K-Midd had recently been on his roughest stretch of the season against top-tier teams such as the Raptors and Warriors, but hopefully against a weaker schedule for the rest of the month of January and into February there is an opportunity for Middleton to get some consistency.