Three Things to Know About the Bucks’ Painful Phoenix Suns Defeat
Milwaukee Bucks deserved better on Monday night. Milwaukee had Phoenix on the ropes and all they had to do is finish the deal. They could not do that. Milwaukee had issues all April closing games. They lost a game against Golden State this way, and they lost the Phoenix game that way as well. Milwaukee should have gone into double overtime but instead, a foul was called and Devin Booker made one shot. Both games against Phoenix should have been wins for Milwaukee. Instead, they were close losses. After a stretch where the Bucks closed out some big opponents, things have been uneven of late.
1. The net rating tells us the fourth quarter story – For those who don’t know about the net rating, it is the combination of your offensive and defensive rating. It’s basically Wins Above Replacement for basketball. Milwaukee is currently 16th in NET rating in the fourth quarter for the season. In April, they’re 22nd. Yes, Giannis has been out for most of that. The problem has been fourth-quarter defense. Milwaukee is 28th in defensive rating allowing 122 points per 100 possessions. That’s very bad. Let’s hope with more Giannis plus Mike Budenholzer being more comfortable with P.J. Tucker closing, that will balance out.
2. Jrue Holiday played well but did too much late – Here’s the thing about Jrue Holiday’s night. He had 25 points, eight assists, and played great defense on Chris Paul yet I’m unsure about a few of his possessions late. Holiday tried to isolate a little too much. It felt like a situation where Holiday was trying to be the man versus Paul in a back-and-forth duel. This happens with players on occasion, and it can be a determinant to the team. There were not enough Giannis touches late in this game.
3. P.J. Tucker needs more clutch minutes – If you want an almost positive of Giannis Antetokounmpo going out, it gave P.J. Tucker more minutes late in this game. Tucker looked the part and played a role in some good defensive possessions for Milwaukee. Mike Budenholzer cannot wait until a minute left to deploy this defense. When Phoenix started to creep back into this game, the trigger should have been pulled. Instead, he waited to make something happen.
Milwaukee gets another tough opponent with Philadelphia on Thursday. Philadelphia and Milwaukee will be meeting for the second time this season. This time, Philly will be full strength with Joel Embiid. Philly will be coming off a back-to-back as they play these same Sunds on Wednesday. That seems like an opportune time for Milwaukee to get a win.