Adversity is something that has been virtually non-existent for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. That was until Malcolm Brogdon went down with what turned out to be a minor tear of his plantar fascia. The Bucks are now without Brogdon for 6-8 weeks. Ending his regular season, putting his playoff status in danger, and now testing Milwaukee’s depth. (The injury also officially makes Brogdon a 50-40-90 guy. So there’s that.)
The last two games for Milwaukee were potential playoff previews. The first being a comeback win for the Bucks versus the Miami Heat. Brogdon went down early in the first quarter and did not return. The Bucks have not gotten off to the best starts in Miami. This was no different as they were down by 23 at one point and 20 at the half. The Bucks stormed back and won the game by 15, 113-98. (This marked the first time in NBA history a team won a game by 15 after being down by 20.) Mike Budenholzer had to piece together guys to make up for Brogdon’s absence, in order to pull this one out. There’s a difference between surviving one game and finding a solution for eight weeks.
As I said on Twitter, there is no replacing Malcolm Brogdon. This was never more evident than in their Sunday afternoon tilt, with the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the Bucks’ post all-star break defensive struggles, they still have the top defensive efficiency rating in the Association. (104.7, which is nearly three points better than Toronto and five points better than Golden State. The more you know.) The drop down defensive strategy employed by the Bucks on pick and rolls, struggled. This is a place where Brogdon is able to use his strength to fight through the screens and stay with his man. That was missed. The Bucks forced the Sixers into some difficult shots, which they made, but there were some easy shots that Brogdon’s defensive capabilities within this system, could have prevented or made to be tougher.
In that same game, Milwaukee only shot 32% from three. (16-for-50. Yuck.) Philly shot 46% from distance. (Double yuck.) Brogdon is the only 40% three point shooter on this team. (42.6%) Folks need to come to terms with the fact his absence impacts this team both offensively and defensively.
Brogdon’s injury is the first bit of adversity the Bucks have had to face all season. They’ll figure it out. Yes you lose defensive IQ points and floor spacing with Brogdon, and it will hurt at times. But, GM Jon Horst has built a team with great depth for this very reason. This depth will be tested.
It will take three or even four guys to replace what Brogdon gives you on a nightly basis, but it has to happen in order for the Bucks to keep the ship moving forward. Adversity is something great teams must overcome. If Bucks are what they believe they are, they must overcome this, and I believe they will.