The Bucks lost to the New York Knicks tonight with a final score of 113-98. Milwaukee had plenty of issues throughout this game, but here are the three primary takeaways from tonight’s loss.
The Bucks Really Miss Brook Lopez
As Brook Lopez continues to sit out due to back pain, it’s clear how integral he is for the Bucks. Although Brook doesn’t grab too many rebounds in most games, his ability to box out and and create space on defense creates a significant advantage on the boards. Without him, rebounding becomes a problem. The Knicks secured 2nd, 3rd, and sometimes 4th chances on several possessions throughout the game. That does not happen with Brook Lopez on the floor.
Besides his defense, Lopez’s size, strength, and ability to shoot from outside provides a significant boost to Milwaukee’s offense. Lopez’s post presence makes it easier for Milwaukee to score in the paint, which was a significant problem for Milwaukee tonight. Ultimately, the Bucks face significant problems on both sides of the ball as they’re continually forced to run small line ups in Lopez’s absence.
Semi Ojeleye Needs To Improve
The Bucks signed Semi Ojeleye as a replacement for P.J. Tucker. So far, he’s failed to live up to that expectation. Although his defense hasn’t been bad, he’s yet to provide the same defensive presence Tucker brought last season. Semi’s offensive woes are well documented, but his primary job is to limit opponents’ offense with his size and strength. Tonight, as with previous nights, Ojeleye was virtually a non-factor. If Semi is going to be a true replacement for P.J. Tucker, he has to do a better job. Thankfully, there’s still plenty of time for him to improve. He hasn’t been great since returning from injury, but Bucks fans shouldn’t give up on Ojeleye yet.
Grayson Allen is a Key Addition
Although the Knicks limited Giannis’ offense, Grayson Allen had a great game, especially in the 1st half. Allen scored 22 points with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. He also shot 66.7% from outside. Although the Bucks lost, it’s clear the Bucks made the right choice trading for Allen in the offseason. With Khris Middleton out indefinitely with COVID-19 and Jrue Holiday just returning from an injury, Allen’s shooting is more important than ever.
Besides his offense, Allen showed significant aggression and hustle on defense. He did a good job staying with his man and an even better job chasing down rebounds. Although the jury is still out whether he’ll continue to start once Donte DiVincenzo returns, Allen made a strong case for himself tonight.
A lot went wrong for the Bucks tonight after the 1st quarter. There were sloppy turnovers, bad shots, and poor defensive efforts. Despite that, there is good news. Nothing about the loss tonight indicates a significant problem. I know I sound like a broken record, but the issues that led to tonight’s loss will diminish or evaporate as the Bucks get healthy.
The single key factor that killed the Bucks tonight was rebounding. The Knicks grabbed too many offensive rebounds and thus, got too many extra shots per possession. I will reiterate that this will not happen when Brook Lopez returns. Tonight was a tough loss, but all the Bucks have to do right now is tread water. Once the team is healthy, they’ll return to their winning ways.