Coach Adrian Griffin was not pleased with the Bucks’ defense in their loss to the Raptors — and that is clearly an area where they may struggle after trading away guard Jrue Holiday (now with the Celtics).
“I didn’t think we did a good job as far as keeping the ball in front,” Griffin said, via Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Too many points in the paint. As far as kick-out 3s, they were driving and spraying it around. Just containing penetration and then just having the discipline to sit down and guard, I thought it was too many straight line drives in the paint and they were just spraying it around.
“And then, we were closing short to all of their players tonight and partly on us as a staff, so I take blame for that. Just gotta do a better job at preparing them on a nightly basis.”
At 33, new guard Damian Lillard — never a great defender — is having issues keeping opposing guards in front of him.
The Bucks are also really struggling in the area of transition defense.
“Through three games, the Bucks were the league’s worst transition defense in the NBA, giving up 1.58 points per play off live rebounds, according to Cleaning the Glass,” Nehm wrote. “That trend continued in Toronto. The Bucks failed to get back following a missed 3-pointer from MarJon Beauchamp, a mistake inspired Griffin to call his fourth timeout in the first half.”
Basically, if the Bucks hope to contend for a championship, that’s an area that will need serious work. Griffin indicated he knows that.
On the bright side, they have more than 70 games to shore it up.
“It’s going to look ugly sometimes and other times it’s going to look like the potential that it’s supposed to look like,” Lillard said, via Nehm. “We had a solid, solid showing opening night and then we laid an egg kind of against Atlanta. Then we bounced back, and tonight, it was the same thing. So I think you know you’re in that type of process when you have that type of inconsistency.”
Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo added that the Bucks can’t make excuses.
“It’s a struggle,” Antetokounmpo said. “OK, we can make excuses — there’s a new player, there’s a new coach, there’s a new system — we can keep on making excuses and think that it’s going to be OK, but that doesn’t work in life. That doesn’t work like that.
“You have to figure out solutions and right now our solution is that, ‘Oh, we have a new player and a new coach’, and ‘Oh, we’re going to be better in Game 40.’”