Bucks Lead

Have Sluggish 1st Quarter Woes Returned?

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Bucks Allow 40 in the 1st

It was well documented that early in the season, the Bucks had an issue with getting off to inauspicious starts. Both Giannis and Coach Budenholzer addressed it in their postgame comments after a game against the Denver Nuggets on November 19th. The epicenter of their frustrations, however, most likely stemmed from their previous game against the lowly Chicago Bulls, where they trailed 40-27 after one quarter. Granted, the Bucks won both of those games and their record improved to 12-4. But of course, this is not a sustainable recipe for success.

Fast forward more than a month to the home-and-home series against the New York Knicks on Christmas Day and December 27th, and the issue was still lingering. Again, the Bucks trailed after one period of play in both games, and again, the Bucks still cruised to victories in both games. But the pattern was starting to become increasingly more troublesome.

New Year, New Trend

Then things began to turn around, as they tend to do when you have a great coach like Mike Budenholzer. From December 29th through January 10th, the Bucks had a first quarter point differential of +45. Sure, one could chalk most of that up to the laughable 43-14 period against the Atlanta Hawks, but the point remains– the Bucks were in the midst of a solid stretch of games where they got off to good starts.

Even when things looked like they might be starting to slide away early in the game, Coach Bud makes the most out of his timeouts. Unlike year’s past, the Bucks usually come out of a timeout with a well drawn-up play (I know, hard to believe, right?!). Budenholzer deserves a lot of credit for how his team has been able to withstand runs and swing momentum back in their favor when they desperately need it.

Before Friday’s game in DC, they trailed by two and three after one quarter to the Jazz and the Rockets, respectively. You can hardly chalk those scores up to a slow start, though. Imagine if the Bucks came out in Houston with the same intensity as they did on November 16th against the Bulls, or on December 22nd against the Heat, where they scored a total of eight points in the first frame? The Rockets would have thrown a knockout punch immediately with no chance of coming back. Instead, Milwaukee came out and played tough from the opening tip and the Bucks left Houston with arguably their most impressive win of the season. Giannis had a different type of knockout punch in mind.

Uh-Oh! 1st Quarter Nightmare Returns!

With Giannis having a “maintenance” night off nursing an injury from Friday night, the sluggish 1st quarter issue reared its ugly head yet again. The Bucks trailed 40-26 when the opening quarter was complete and looked slow and uninterested.

Of course, the Bucks are still a talented team and chipped away as the game went along, including an 8-0 run to start the 3rd quarter. Like all their comeback wins, you could almost see that flip-of-the-switch when they realize “Hey, we’re better than this team, let’s go!”.

This time, however, there would be no comeback win. Thanks largely in part to the fact that the Wizards shot a filthy 18/33 (55%) on their three-point attempts. When they weren’t raining three’s, they did things like this:

The Bucks eventually ran out of gas and lost 113-106. Khris Middleton basically sums it all up:

Time will tell if this particular 1st quarter nightmare was just a blip on the radar being on the road, without your MVP candidate, coming off an emotional win– or if this is going to continue to be a struggle for this team all season. Here’s hoping it’s the former, not the latter.

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About Dan Parker

Born and raised in the greater Milwaukee area. Graduated from UW-Parkside with a B.S. in Sports and Fitness Management. Avid Wisconsin sports fan, currently residing just outside of Detroit.

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