CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While the Bucks have made tremendous strides defensively, coach Mike Budenholzer feels the team experiences occasional lapses.
Milwaukee barely edged the Hornets in the season opener, beating them, 113-112. However, Charlotte came out on top Monday in their second meeting, claiming a 110-107 victory.
“From opening night to now, I think defensively there’s been stretches where I think we’ve been significantly improved. Trying to be the team that we want to be. There’s been nights where we’ve regressed defensively,” Budenholzer said before the loss.
The Bucks (14-6) are starting to gain recognition for their analytics-based offensive approach. They’re getting to the rim and shooting the 3 more efficiently than most teams in the NBA. Milwaukee demonstrated its scoring prowess early on in Charlotte by sinking eight 3-pointers in the first quarter. The Bucks couldn’t keep up the pace though, as they finished with 15 makes from beyond the arc. The Hornets made 13, taking advantage of a key Milwaukee weakness.
Charlotte hoisted a few shots from the parking lot to close a 20-point deficit against the Bucks in their first meeting earlier this season, and this time luck was on the Hornets’ side.
The Bucks have the No. 6 defensive rating (105.1) in the NBA. They also allow the fewest fast-break points in the NBA per contest at 9.4 per game. Their defensive approach in terms of protecting the basket has been great. They allow the second-fewest second-chance points (10.8) and points in the paint (41.4).
But when it comes to defending the 3-point shot, they struggle. Milwaukee allows the second most 3-point makes (12.4) and attempts (35.6) per game in the NBA.
Clearly the Bucks aren’t in any serious trouble right now, but making an adjustment that utilizes their length and athleticism to defend the 3 could put them over the top in the East.