The Milwaukee Bucks have been the toast of the Eastern Conference the last couple of seasons. During the 2018-19 season, they finished with a 60-22 record. Not only that but they were the highest-scoring team in the league and they were ranked first in defensive efficiency as well.
The Milwaukee Bucks Could Be Heading Toward Another Early Playoff Exit As They Go Down 0-2 Against the Brooklyn Nets
And during the 2019 NBA playoffs, the Bucks advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2001. Unfortunately, they were upended by the Toronto Raptors in six games. Last season, the Bucks finished with a conference-best 56-17 record. And once again, they were the highest-scoring team in the association and ranked first in defensive efficiency.
Despite those factors, the Bucks were ousted in the conference semifinals by the Miami Heat in five games. This season, the Bucks finished with the third-best record in the conference behind the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. Although they weren’t as good from a defensive standpoint as they were in the previous two seasons, they remained in the top-10.
The matchup between the Bucks and the Nets was supposed to be a good one paper. After all, both teams make quick of their first-round opponents. Unfortunately for the Bucks, this series has been one-sided through the first two games.
In Game 1, the Bucks lost by a respectable eight-point margin (115-107). The next game was an entirely different story, though. The Bucks were outscored 36-19 in the first quarter and things only got worse from there.
In fact, the Nets led by as much as 49 points en route to a convincing 125-86 victory. The final margin was Brooklyn’s largest margin of victory in a playoff game. Needless to say, the Bucks are in trouble for a couple of reasons.
Bucks are Struggling From Three-Point Range
For starters, the Bucks haven’t had much success with the long ball. In the series opener, they connected on just 20 percent of their attempts from the 3-point line, shooting 6-for-30. That number slightly improved in Game 2 as Milwaukee shot 8-for-27 from beyond the arc — a conversion rate of 29.6 percent.
Bucks Defense No Match for Nets Offense
It has been said, that defense wins championships. If that’s true, the Bucks aren’t making the grade in this area, either. Although the Bucks have the fifth-best scoring defense in the playoffs (105.3 points per game), the Nets are averaging 120 points per contest through the first two games. It should also be noted that the Nets shot 21-for-42 from deep in Game 2. That kind of defensive effort is unacceptable.
One other point that is worth mentioning is James Harden. He sustained a hamstring injury early in Game 1. Despite his absence, the Nets produced an eight-point win and followed that up with a blowout win in Game 2. If the Nets can produce at an efficient level without one of their top-three players in the rotation, it doesn’t look good for the Bucks.
The Bucks avenged last year’s playoff to Miami by sweeping that team in the first round. But unless they find a way to turn things around, they could face a similar fate.
Embed from Getty Images