Bucks''steady growth' on defense shows through in blowout of Nuggets

Bucks”steady growth’ on defense shows through in blowout of Nuggets

When Doc Rivers made his Milwaukee Bucks coaching debut on Jan. 29, he was impressed by the team’s defensive effort, despite a road defeat to Denver.
Two weeks later, the Bucks pulled together one of their most comprehensive victories of the season, defeating the reigning champs 112-95 on Monday night. It was Milwaukee’s second straight victory, as well as their second consecutive game keeping an opponent to less than 100 points, the first time they had done it in the regular season since November 2021.

“Guys are just being on the same page,” Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the win. “Coach Doc is holding us to a higher level. He wants us to defend. He does not accept lack of effort as an excuse. “If you’re on the floor, you have to give it your all.”
Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets’ two-time MVP, had 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists, accounting for 48 of the team’s 95 points, but his efforts were unable to overcome a couple significant injuries. Jamal Murray (shin injury) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right hamstring strain) sat out the second half.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 36 points and 18 rebounds. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he now has nine career games with 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 70%, which ties him with Charles Barkley for third in NBA history. They trail only Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
While Rivers applauded the team’s offensive tempo, he was particularly pleased to see the defense improve in some of the concepts he has worked to implement since taking over late last month.
Milwaukee began 1-5 under Rivers, allowing 119.2 points per game over the six games. However, in their back-to-back victories, the Bucks have limited opponents to 89.5 points per game.
“Just steady progress,” Rivers said after Monday’s game. “What we want to do is believe in your D, trust it, and explain it. The more our players understand what we’re doing, the better they’ll be able to play at full pace. That is what we are attempting to achieve. Simplify so that we may play with fire.
Rivers claimed that the coaching staff had spent around 70% of their available time working with the squad on defense. And that emphasis has been on ensuring the crew is on the same page.
“I just think it’s the accountability,” Bucks guard Damian Lillard said. “When we’re viewing video, in meetings, and at practice, I believe Doc and our whole staff are doing an excellent job of just pointing stuff out. They’re confronting us in a variety of ways. “Our communication style, physical presence, and group behavior.”We are looking for our identity. Who do we wish to be? Who will we step like when we go on the floor? And I believe we’re simply experiencing a lot of carryover because there’s so much discussion about it.”

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