Season 50, Game 38
San Antonio 107, Milwaukee 109
30-8, 2nd in the West
Michael. Fucking. Beasley.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our tale of woe begins with about 2 minutes left in the first half, and the Spurs comfortably on top by 13, looking to cruise to another home win. Instead, the Spurs give up a 7-0 run (including 3 free throws on a shooting foul with 0.9 seconds left at half court, what the…?), and go into the intermission with just a 6-point lead.
Still, with Giannis barely playing because of an illness (he didn’t play at all in the second half), the Spurs were still in good position to get the win. Enter the aforementioned Michael Beasley.
He couldn’t miss. He completely bullied the Spurs’ defense. The Bucks continually ran pick and roll to get a small switched on to him, and then just threw him the ball, and he’d hit the shot or attack the rim. And he made good decisions with the ball, finding open shooters at the rim (Greg Monroe) or behind the arc (Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Snell).
Two nights after singing the praises of the Spurs defense, it absolutely stunk tonight. By my very rough estimates, the Spurs got 3 stops in the second half (number approximate). And it wasn’t just a lot of lucky shot making. The Bucks did whatever they wanted on offense, basically breaking the Spurs defense down every possession. It was hard to watch. The Spurs defenders looked confused, unsure of what the scheme was.
For a while, it looked like Kawhi might win this thing alone, but eventually he ran out of magic. The offense was humming most of the night, keeping a 3-6 point cushion most of the second half. But about halfway through the 4th quarter, it just completely broke down, and the Spurs could not get an open shot. Two back-to-back 3s from Davis Bertans and Danny Green seemed like it might miraculously bring us the win, but the Bucks played harder, played smarter, and deserved the win.
The Spurs had a chance for the win (or tie) on the final possession, and ran a beauty, getting a wide-open corner 3 from Manu Ginobili at the buzzer. He shot it off the side of the back board.
It was that kind of night.
The Bucks play the Spurs tough (remember the Spurs won by 1 in Milwaukee on a goaltend in the final seconds), and their length and athleticism clearly bother the team. Part of the offensive confusion was the Spurs continually passing up open shots for fear of the Bucks defenders, or passing it into traffic and into turnovers. They just look a bit shook by the Bucks.
Manu and Patty Mills, in particular, played very bad. Even ignoring that last shot, Manu was a complete liability on the floor. He couldn’t find his usual seams on offense, which slowed down the second unit. On defense, he gambled too much and didn’t play good positional defense. (He twice gambled for steals that both times led to 2 easy points for the Bucks. Those 4 points loom quite large in the final accounting.)
Mills was way off his game, as well. Matthew Dellavedova (his fellow countryman) completely owned him on both ends. I could say more, but do I really need to?
The Spurs have been playing well and were due a loss. The way I’m describing it, you’d think they’d got blown out on their own floor. They lost by 2 without their second leading scorer against a very good (if inconsistent) team while not playing their best. They had a shot (literally) to win it at the buzzer. As frustrating as the game was in the moment, it’s not a bad loss in the aggregate.
The Spurs finish their home stand Thursday night against the Lakers. I expect a bounce back.
Go Spurs Go.