Scouting Report: Milwaukee Bucks

Thursday, March 13, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans

The Hawks (27-35) snapped their five-game losing streak as they closed out their west coast road trip with a win over the Jazz Monday night. Atlanta will look to string together consecutive victories for the first time since January 31-February 1 when the Bucks (13-51) come to Philips Arena on Thursday night.

This will be the Bucks first and only visit to Atlanta this season, which means it’s the only time former Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and coach Larry Drew will be in town. The season has been a disaster so far for the Bucks, who own the NBA’s worst record. The few bright spots for the Bucks this season have come from their young players led by rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo and second-year big man John Henson.

Antetokounmpo is still a very raw player, but at times has shown the potential that has the Bucks — and the NBA as a whole — excited about his future. Giannis is averaging 7.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game on just 41.9% shooting, but as the season has progressed the flashes of brilliance have become more common as he gets more comfortable in the NBA.

The Bucks offense has been inefficient on the whole, with an offensive rating of 99.1 (fourth worst in the NBA) and the team has a collective true shooting percentage of 51.4% (also tied for fourth worst in the NBA). Brandon Knight is the Bucks leading scorer with 17.4 points per game, but takes 14.7 shots per game to get there.

On defense, the Bucks have been just as bad with a defensive rating of 107.7 (second worst in the NBA) giving them a net rating of -8.6 (also second worst in the NBA). With Larry Sanders sidelined for much of the year — playing just 23 games — the Bucks have been without their best defender and rim protector, and the backcourt of Knight and OJ Mayo has provided little resistance to opposing guards.

The Hawks, coming off of back-to-back solid performances, will look to continue their good play as they attempt to get back in the rhythm they had established prior to Pero Antic and Paul Millsap‘s injuries. With Antic and Millsap back in the lineup, the Hawks offense has picked up, scoring 108 and 112 in the last two games. Against the Bucks the Hawks will have a great opportunity to keep that pace going and maintain their hold on a playoff spot in the East.

Defensively, the Hawks have still had problems despite the return of Millsap and Antic. The Hawks will be helped by going up against a struggling offense, but they will have to do a better job communicating on rotations at the rim and on three-point shooters than they have been in recent weeks.

With the Bucks’ defensive issues, this would also be a great opportunity for Jeff Teague to get back on track after a few difficult outings on the west coast trip. Teague is such an important player in getting the Hawks offense going with his ability to penetrate and both facilitate and score on his own that the Hawks need him to get going again during this late season playoff push.

Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

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