Defense has always been an integral aspect of the Milwaukee Bucks’ identity. However, they lost quite a bit of their defensive grit this summer after they decided to trade away Jrue Holiday in exchange for Damian Lillard.
Unsurprisingly, the new-look Bucks struggled to sustain the same level of defensive intensity they had been known for when they started the season. They’re still not yet there at this point in the campaign, but at the same time, there’s no denying that they’ve taken strides in the right direction.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Speaks Out on Milwaukee Bucks’ Improvements on Defense
Saturday’s 132-121 victory over the Atlanta Hawks was a great example of the Bucks stepping it up on the defensive end during crunch time. It was a close encounter throughout, with Trae Young and Co. unwilling to give the Bucks an inch.
Down the stretch, however, the Bucks clamped down on the Hawks, causing them to miss seven out of their last 10 attempts, while also forcing two turnovers. Milwaukee stepped it up on the opposite side of the floor too, as they outscored Atlanta 18-7 to close out the win.
After the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke out about how impressed he has been with his team’s defensive improvements. The Bucks talisman knows that they are far from perfect, but he is delighted with the amount of effort they have put in:
“You cannot stop everything,” he said, via Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You’ve got to be able to live with some of the shots that they’re going to take. But at the end of the day, I feel like down the stretch, always, our effort is there. And that’s all you can ask for.
“As long as you know that your teammates and yourself that in the last six minutes, no matter the outcome of the game, you’re going give everything you have defensively and you’re going trust the game plan and you’re going to give that extra effort for your team, OK.
“There’s sometimes we’re going to be good and sometimes we’re not going to be good. Bad teams usually do not do both. They don’t give effort, and they’re not good at it.
“So, we’ve been good. We’ve been good defensively. We’ve changed a lot of things. We’re up, we dropped, we blitz, we trap, we do some good stuff.”
Damian Lillard is obviously no Jrue Holiday. The Bucks know this, and they don’t expect Dame to replace Holiday’s heroics on the defensive end. In order to fill this void, it’s going to be a collective effort from the entire squad — something that they have gotten so good at of late.
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