The Milwaukee Bucks faced the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the Eastern Conference in a back-to-back over the weekend, and Jason Kidd’s crew couldn’t pull off an upset victory.
The back-to-back began with a treacherous road test Friday night against the Toronto Raptors, which ended in a 102-86 defeat for the Bucks. The following night, Milwaukee played host to the Boston Celtics. Jason’s squad nearly came up with a big East victory, but they ultimately fell 112-108 in overtime. Despite the result, Coach Kidd was happy with the effort his team showed over a difficult weekend.
“The nice thing is the guys fought on a back-to-back against one of the best teams in the East,” Jason said after Saturday night’s narrow defeat. “They never quit. They gave everything they had tonight. It would have been easy to let go of the rope, especially there in the overtime being down, but those guys fought ’til the end, and when you do that, good things will happen.”
BUCKS FALL IN TORONTO
Milwaukee started slow in a tough road environment at the Air Canada Centre, allowing the Raptors to race to a 36-19 lead after 12 minutes of play.
The Bucks settled in after that, particularly defensively in the second period, holding the Raptors to just 17 points. They kept it going in the third, climbing back to within seven points, 77-70, but Toronto started the final frame on a 13-5 run to stymie Milwaukee’s comeback attempt.
“Starting the fourth it’s 77-70, this is where you want to be on the road, especially if you’re not playing well. It’s still anybody’s ball game, but we didn’t come out in the fourth quarter with that same energy and effort,” Jason said. “I think for us just our youth. Understanding we can’t get into ‘I’ mode. We got back into the game playing as a team and then when things tend to go wrong for us we quickly tend to go into ‘I’ mode and ‘we’re going to do it ourselves.’ That’s where a lead goes from seven to 14 and then it’s out of control.”
While the Young Bucks didn’t pull out the road victory, they did see bright spots their two youngest players. Rashad Vaughn recorded four points and six rebounds in 30 minutes, in addition to two steals and an assist.
“I thought we needed to get (Vaughn) on the floor, give him some minutes,” J-Kidd said. “I thought he did a good job there in the first half. Not judging him on his shots or making his shots, he took good shots they just didn’t fall for him tonight. I thought he was good while he was on the floor.”
Thon Maker was another talking point for Kidd after the game, saying he was very pleased with the rookie’s performance on Friday night.
“I thought he was great. We got to find ways to get him more on the floor,” Jason said. “He has a positive impact on the guys when he’s playing. I liked the way he played. Hopefully it will rub off on some of his teammates.”
Maker finished the game with eight points and two rebounds in only eight minutes of play. Kidd was so impressed with his performance that he actually rewarded Maker with a start on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics.
BUCKS DROP HEARTBREAKER
Maker only played for 10 minutes, but Kidd was once again impressed with his effort.
“I thought Thon, he gave us energy, he really changed the game in the second half,” Kidd said. “I thought when he set a screen on (Isaiah) Thomas, those two started talking to one another, but I thought his energy and effort was great tonight and we’ll see how it goes when we go to Utah.”
Unfortunately, the Bucks again got out to a slow start, and Boston led 42-27 after one, and again Milwaukee settled in, and mounted a comeback.
“This has been the trend right now if you think of the last 48 hours. We gave up a big first quarter in Toronto and had to fight our way back and we can only get within seven,” Kidd said. “So tonight was another big first quarter, but the second quarter once we settled down and started getting stops, we were in the ballgame.”
From the second quarter on, the Bucks didn’t allow the Celtics to score more than 22 points in a quarter.
Milwaukee eventually tied the game at 90 on a Giannis Antetokounmpo 3-pointer with 6:43 left in the game.
The rest of the game there were four lead changes and three ties. Greg Monroe scored the last five points for Milwaukee, but missed a free-throw with 37 seconds left that would have given Milwaukee the lead. Monroe played in integral part in getting Milwaukee back into the game. He finished with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, while adding three steals and three blocks.
“He’s been playing extremely well,” J-Kidd said. “‘Moose’ has been playing well for us and I thought tonight, again, he was there defensively and offensively, making plays. That’s why he’s playing at a very high level for us.”
The game went to overtime tied at 102, but the Celtics outscored the Bucks by four and escaped the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a win.
“We played hard. This is the way we have to play. It’s tough to lose these close games but we’re getting looks or we’re turning the ball over, so we have to get better at that,” Jason said. “But the defensive end we’re getting stops and we just have to get better on the offensive end.”
Up next the Bucks travel to Utah to face off against the Jazz, playing the first game of a three-game road trip out west.