Milwaukee Bucks superstar Damian Lillard has endured a lot of criticism in what has been an up-and-down start with his new team. Friday’s win marked another high in Dame’s roller coaster ride, with the seven-time All-Star leading Milwaukee with 30 points, en route to a 110-105 victory.
Milwaukee Bucks Star Damian Lillard Ups His Defense Against Knicks
While Lillard has been his usually dominant self on the offensive end — at least for the most part — his defense has left a lot to be desired. The Bucks knew that this was Dame’s Achilles heel when they brought him in this summer but at the same time, the team is also doing everything they can to help the veteran improve this facet of his game.
On Friday against the Knicks, Lillard showed some improvement on the defensive end as he matched up with New York star Jalen Brunson. Dame won’t be in contention for a spot on the All-Defensive team, but at least he put in a formidable effort against the Knicks.
One player who played a key role in Lillard’s improvement against New York is Brook Lopez. The veteran big man was used in more drop coverage against the Knicks — a significant tweak implemented by head coach Adrian Griffin after heeding his veteran players’ advice — and it worked wonders for the Bucks. Lopez swatted away eight shots against New York, proving how he still remains to be one of the top rim protectors in the game today.
The move worked wonders for Lillard as well, with Lopez being able to give the All-NBA point guard directions on the defensive end:
“So I noticed a difference right away,” Lillard continued. “You can tell that he’s comfortable calling the game that way. He knows how to navigate being in the paint. He’s behind everything, so he can see. I just heard him talking a lot more tonight because he’s kind of back there seeing everything. So, for us guys who play a lot on the perimeter, especially defensively, hearing a guy back there communicating, you hear his voice, directing traffic, it’s extremely helpful.”
The Bucks won’t be relying on Lillard to be their defensive anchor, but they will need for him to step up his game on defense. This has been Milwaukee’s identity and this should be part of Dame’s adjustment now that he’s with his new team. It appears that Lopez could be the bridge that Lillard needs to get himself there.
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