The defending champions have struggled out of the gate, having lost five of six following Sunday’s defeat vs. the Wizards. “I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like losing,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said, via Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I don’t remember the last time we were 4-6, you know? Or we lost four out of five at home?”
That said, Antetokounmpo indicated it’s no time to panic. “Because at the end of the day the playoffs is 72 games away, and we have 72 games to get better, keep building good habits and hopefully we’re in a good place mentally, physically, everybody healthy at the right time and play good basketball,” he said. “That’s when you want to play your best basketball.”
Milwaukee has failed to hit 100 points in five of its six losses, Owczarski noted.
Coach Mike Budenholzer is aiming to keep an eye on Antetokoumpo’s minutes. “Giannis was in that mindset that he wanted to play a lot,” Budenholzer said after the Wizards’ game. “It’s on me to keep him in a good place. I love his spirit tonight.”
Forward Khris Middleton has now missed four games after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocol. Players have to sit out at least 10 games after a positive test.
Star guard Bradley Beal praised the additions of forward Kyle Kuzma, forward/center Montrezl Harrell and others after beating the Bucks. “It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that you have vets and when it’s time to close out a game, win a game, they’re prepared,” Beal said, via Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. “They know what to do. And we’re all, camaraderie-wise, ready to go. You can look at the guy next to you and know that he’s been in this trench before. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Beal missed his first free throw of the season after makig 35 in a row, the AP noted.
With a record of 7-3, Washington is off to its best start since the 2014-15 season. “I think we’ve been able to pull together relatively quickly with so many pieces,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “It’s a lot to ask but for the most part our guys have been great with our effort and locked in with what we are trying to do.”
Coach Jamahl Mosley sees a bright future for second-year guard Cole Anthony, who scored a career-high 33 points in the Magic’s upset of the Jazz. “He’s putting the work in and I keep telling everyone about his mindset, and what he’s seeing out there on the court,” Mosley said. “He’s recognizing the things before they are happening. Now, it’s just a matter of slowing them down for his body to catch up.”
Veteran guard/forward Terrence Ross isn’t offering his usual burst of point production off the bench — but Mosley said much of that is the result of how much attention Ross draws from opposing defenses. “Terrence Ross is one of the best shooters in the NBA,” Mosley said. “Any team that walks in here knows that point. The way they are guarding him, they are disrupting his touches, they are top blocking him, making him go to the opposite side of the floor.”