Bucks Lead

How Bucks Can Fix 1st Quarter Woes


The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a blazing hot start– starting 7-0 and going a respectable 8-7 since. Milwaukee has had one of the toughest schedules in the NBA to this point, and are still 15-7, which is the second best record in the East and tied for second best in the entire NBA. The Bucks lead the NBA in points per game and scoring differential. They rank in the top ten in rebounding, assists, and effective field goal percentage. It seems like everything is going right, but there is one thing halting the Bucks from having an even better year – their terrible first quarters.

Now, before you go look and see that the Bucks are scoring 29.6 points per first quarter, know that I don’t necessarily mean that the offense is the problem. Yes, the Bucks rank 3rd in first quarter scoring, which is very impressive. The issue is that they also give up 29.6 points per first quarter, which ranks just 26th in the NBA. They rank 7th in opponent points per game in the second, 20th in the third, and 8th in the fourth. So why do the Bucks give up so many point in the first quarter? That’s what Coach Budenholzer is trying to figure out.

Energy & Effort

Photo: Associated Press

Ah there they are, the dreaded words spouted out of Jason Kidd‘s mouth on a daily basis to completely shift the blame onto his players for the team underperforming. But it fits well here. Watching a Bucks game, you can easily notice that the intensity from Milwaukee is not the same as it is later in games. That could be for a few reasons. One could be coaching. Budenholzer is a phenomenal coach, and he is great at encouraging and disciplining his players when they aren’t meeting expectations. Saying he is the reason for the Bucks slow starts is far fetched because we have seen him bench players for playing poorly; something Kidd did not do. (Joe Prunty did with Jabari Parker in the playoffs)

This falls onto the players. Bud and his staff have been preaching playing hard for the full 48 minutes, and the Bucks just don’t do that. Giannis and Eric Bledsoe seem to be the only guys that normally play hard the whole game. When there is no effort, there is no success. The team is great at turning it up when they “need to” but they need to turn it up the whole game. The Bucks have a great record, so it is hard to complain about much, but the amount of times the Bucks have been down by more than 10 in the first quarter is absurd.

How to Fix It

New Starting Lineup

Photo: Benny Sieu, USA Today Sports

I am not an NBA coach, and I have no place to tell Mike Budenholzer how to do is job, so these are just possible suggestions. First, the starting lineup should be changed. The Bucks top five players are all starting, which should mean that the Bucks should be having great starts to games, but they aren’t. Replacing Malcolm Brogdon with a more high energy player like Donte DiVincenzo or Pat Connaughton would bring more of a spark and energy to the starters. Giannis, Bledsoe, Khris Middeton and Brook Lopez can all score, so the Bucks can afford to put Malcolm’s scoring on the bench. Rotations could look like this:


Eric Bledsoe

Pat Connaughton

Khris Middleton

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Brook Lopez


Malcolm Brogdon

Donte DiVincenzo

Tony Snell

Ersan Ilyasova

Thon Maker

This would even out the talent between the starters and the bench, and bring more energy to the starting lineup.

Play Harder

This one is obvious, but important. The Bucks just don’t seem to try defensively in first quarters. They go into games against inferior teams like the Knicks and Suns and get destroyed in the first quarter. They almost always make a comeback in the second quarter, but these games would be so much easier if they just gave it 100% for the whole game instead of three quarters.

Obviously, the coaching staff can’t just tell players to play harder and they magically will. It’s a mindset thing. There isn’t much you can do when your team isn’t playing as hard as they should be, other than benching them. The Bucks need to wake up and realize that every team in the NBA is capable of beating them if they’re not completely focused on their game. The Bucks are one of the most talented teams in the NBA, and they can be true championship contenders if they play hard every night. Expect the Bucks to improve on consistency throughout the season as Coach Budenholzer keeps preaching energy & effort. The Bucks season outlook still looks fruitful.




About Nick Niles

I'm Nick Niles! I was born in Green Bay Wisconsin, raised in Appleton Wisconsin, and now I'm back in Green Bay at UW-GB studying Political Science and Public Administration. I have been a huge Bucks fan for as long as I have been alive, and I'm also passionate about writing. Twitter: @Bucks_Deluxe | @Nilesmania

Recommended for you

Powered by themekiller.com