Once the nerves settled down, the Bucks actually did a good job of outplaying the Atlanta Hawks. Of course, as I always say in these situations, except for the fact that he got shot, President Lincoln had an enjoyable time at the theater.
But there are encouraging signs. I did a Complete BoxScore, both offensive and “defensive” statistics, taken directly from my game notes and the NBA’s official transcript. I believe this is the only place Bucks fans can get this kind of information. I think its necessary to a full evaluation of what happened in the game.
Analysis of Complete Boxscore findings
As you can see from the Boxscore, the Bucks were not actually outplayed at the center position. Kurt Thomas and Ersan Ilyasova held their own.
In fact, Ilyasova was excellent. Yes, he received a lot of double team help in the second half, but he certainly helped cool down Al Horford, and thereby turn the game toward the Bucks.
Brandon Jennings also had an excellent game. He should have a major advantage over the aging Mike Bibby, and he must continue to exploit that advantage.
Had Carlos Delfino shown up at all, the Bucks probably would have won. Delfino was nonexistent. He should be able to outproduce anyone the Hawks put at small forward, and he should be effective at the power forward. On Saturday he was neither. In his defense, he is reliant on ball movement to get his offense going. I think the ball was getting stuck a lot, as the Bucks incredibly low 11 assists in 37 made baskets illustrates (.297%; the historic norm, and the Bucks average this season, was .561%). That may have been brought about by the nervousness of a first playoff game. If guys don’t feel comfortable, they tend to go one-on-0ne a lot. Hopefully that will pass.
Another sign that nervousness was rampant. Many of the Bucks players looked exhausted in the fourth quarter. For that matter, so did many of the Hawks. At one point several of the Bucks were doubled over grabbing their shorts.
That is a signal. The extraordinary adrenaline rush brought about early on by the commencement of the playoffs led to a heavy energy crash late in the game. The players are used to playing 40+ minutes. The extra rush simply left them spent at the end.
This could be a much more interesting series than I previously thought. Skiles may have found a key to success.
Playing Ilyasova in the post, and then giving him plenty of “dig down” help could prove to be the way to beat the Hawks.
I also think in the end Delfino will have a lot more positive contributions before this series is over. I particularly like him matched at power forward against Josh Smith. It pulls Smith away from the basket on the Bucks offensive end, making him less of a shot block threat, and Delfino is normally stout enough to handle him on the defensive end.
We shall see. Intriguing start for the Bucks.