February 26, 2024

Bucks’ ‘steady progress’ on defense shines in rout of Nuggets

MILWAUKEE — When Doc Rivers made his Milwaukee Bucks teaching debut on Jan. 29, he got here away from the sport inspired by the group’s defensive effort regardless of a loss on the street in Denver.

Fast ahead two weeks later and the Bucks put collectively one of their most full wins of the season, a 112-95 rout of the defending champions on Monday night time. It was the second consecutive win for Milwaukee and second consecutive recreation holding an opponent underneath 100 factors, the primary time the Bucks have pulled that off in the common season since November 2021.

“Guys are just being on the same page,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo mentioned after the sport. “Coach Doc is holding us to a high standard. He wants us to defend. He doesn’t take lack of effort as an excuse. If you’re on the floor, you’ve got to do your best.”

Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic collected 29 factors, 12 rebounds and eight assists, scoring or aiding on 48 of the Nuggets’ 95 factors, however his effort wasn’t sufficient to beat just a few key accidents. Both Jamal Murray (shin damage) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (proper hamstring tightness) didn’t play in the second half.

Antetokounmpo paced the Bucks with 36 factors and 18 rebounds. He now has 9 profession video games with 30 factors, 15 rebounds and 5 assists whereas capturing 70%, tied with Charles Barkley for third most in NBA historical past, in keeping with analysis by ESPN Stats & Information. They path solely Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

While Rivers praised the group’s tempo offensively, he was principally inspired to see the defense enhance in some of the rules he has aimed to put in since taking the job late final month.

Milwaukee began 1-5 underneath Rivers, giving up 119.2 factors per recreation in these six contests. But in these back-to-back wins, the Bucks have held opponents to 89.5 factors per recreation.

“Just steady progress,” Rivers mentioned after Monday’s recreation. “Believing in your D, trusting it, clarifying it — what we want to do … The more we can get our guys to know exactly what we’re doing, they can play at full speed. That’s what we’re trying to do. Simplify, so we can play with fire.”

Rivers estimated the teaching workers has spent about 70% of its accessible time working with the group on defense. And that focus has been about ensuring the group is on the suitable web page.

“I just think it’s the accountability,” Bucks guard Damian Lillard mentioned. “When we’re watching film, we’re in our meetings, in practice, I think Doc and our entire staff, they’re doing a great job of just calling everything out. They’re challenging us in a lot of different ways. Our communication, how physical we are, how we carry ourselves as a group.

“Trying to seek out our identification. Who can we need to be. Who are we going to step like after we get on the ground. And I believe we’re simply having loads of carryover as a result of there’s a lot dialog round it.”