Bucks Reporter: "That Kind Of Sounds Like Loser Talk"

The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the NBA, but they've actually lost five of seven games dating back to March

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
August 03, 2020 - 10:33 am
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After starting the season 52-8, the Milwaukee Bucks (54-13) have lost five of their last seven games. 

Granted, four of those losses came before the league suspended its season in March, but the Bucks did lose to the Rockets, 120-116, on Sunday despite 36 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks haven’t faced a lot of adversity this season, so is it possible that a little adversity now could serve them well come playoff time?

Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and head coach Mike Budenholzer say yes.

“All three kind of said that exact same thing,” The Athletic Bucks reporter Eric Nehm said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence, “that these are things that we need to learn from, these are things we need to go through, so it’s good that these things are happening now as opposed to waiting for the postseason and having these happen in a seven-game series where you actually need that game. So getting a chance to go through some of those things now maybe does end up helping them out a little bit. That is what they would say.”

Nehm, however, would say something else.

“In my opinion, that kind of sounds like loser talk,” he said. “When you lose a game, that’s the kind of thing that you say as opposed to just finishing it out and doing what you’re supposed to do, especially when they had really found a way to take advantage of that strained Rockets defense where they don’t have a true center on the floor, they’re playing small, and the Bucks figured it out in the second half. Then in the final three minutes [they] just kind of lost their minds, and it got ugly in a hurry.”

The Bucks trailed Houston 62-54 at halftime but outscored the Rockets 36-27 in the third quarter to take a one-point lead into the fourth. Milwaukee actually led 112-104 with about three minutes to go, but Houston went on a 9-0 run to take control.

Are the Bucks just a little rusty?

“I think the most noticeable way that they look rusty is that they’re just not able to play as long as they typically do and play as hard as they typically do,” Nehm said. “One of the big things with this Bucks team is they’re going to go really hard; they’re going to play really hard. That’s Giannis’ thing. That’s Khris Middleton’s thing. Typically, Giannis does that for about a six-and-a-half, seven-minute stretch at a time, and now he’s going about four-and-a-half minutes and then Mike Budenholzer is pulling him out. He’s not going that same distance. He’s not stretched out. It’s actually strange to hear Mike Budenholzer talk. He kind of sounds like a Major League Baseball manager talking about stretching out starting pitching. That’s what they’re trying to do with their guys right now. 

“To me, that’s the biggest thing: they just can’t go for that long of stretches,” Nehm continued. “They don’t really look good in those minutes where all of a sudden they get a little tired. So I think that’s the biggest part of the rust, but from a skill standpoint, I think for the most part they’ve looked pretty much like the Bucks normally look, where they have a real explosive offense, they’re great defensively – all those things have kind of been there for the Bucks. I do just think that they’re getting tired earlier, and that’s always going to lead to some sloppy basketball and make you maybe look a little bit rustier than you normally would.”