The Milwaukee Bucks just finished up sweeping the Miami Heat. They have earned themselves a week of rest and time to prepare for their next series. The Brooklyn Nets are expected to win their matchup with the Boston Celtics, but a hot streak from Jayson Tatum could change that. With all the time before their next series, the Bucks have some preparations they could make.
Milwaukee Bucks Preparations for the 2nd Round
More Giannis Antetokounmpo at Center For the Milwaukee Bucks
Throughout the series, Milwaukee was able to take advantage of the lack of aggression from Bam Adebayo. In the pick and roll, the Bucks put Brook Lopez in deep drop. This coverage concedes open midrange jumpers for Adebayo, and he never took advantage. Adebayo repeatedly passed to teammates or drove into Lopez despite shooting 42% from midrange during the regular season.
Both possible opponents for the Bucks are much more perimeter-oriented. The slow-footed Lopez can’t dance with the likes of Tatum, Kemba Walker, or the Nets Big Three. To adjust, Giannis Antetokounmpo will likely have to play center. This would allow five defenders on the court that would at least have a chance at guarding those isolations.
Guard the Stars or the Supporting Cast?
The Heat roster was much more even than the top-heavy Nets and Celtics. Mike Budenholzer will have to consider the defensive strategy he wants to implement. If he decides to key in on the stars, it will be up to the supporting cast to keep the offense going. For the Celtics, the combination of Payton Prichard, Evan Fournier, and Marcus Smart might not be able to handle the scoring load on the possessions where Tatum and Walker are shut out. For the Nets, Joe Harris, Landry Shamet, Mike James, and the others would do a better job, but the amount of star power on the Nets may force them down this path.
If Budenholzer decides to shut out the support, the offensive load will be left entirely to the stars. this could work against the Celtics. Freezing out Walker and forcing Tatum to score the bulk can backfire. In Game 3 against the Nets, Tatum scored 50 to win the game despite 96 points from the Nets Big Three. This could be even worse against the Nets. The Big Three is comprised of some of the top isolation talents the league has ever seen. They are going to score at high rates regardless of the defender, so Budenholzer will have to carefully consider which strategy to start the series with.
Milwaukee Bucks Needing to Run in Transition
The Heat’s defensive plan against Antetokounmpo was to build a “wall” of defenders that would prevent him from getting to the rim. This requires big, versatile players that can quickly adjust to the angle Antetokounmpo attacks from. Neutralizing this threat forces the Bucks to prioritize Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton in the offense. Neither the Nets nor the Bucks have the personnel to implement this strategy, meaning the Bucks will be able to get back to the speedy basketball that makes them so dominant in the regular season.
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