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The Fatal Flaw that Spells Doom for the Bucks in the 2024 NBA Playoffs

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Despite an elite offense, the Bucks’ over-reliance on three-point shooting this year will doom them in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks had the best record in the NBA, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Miami Heat. The team looked to overcome those postseason woes in 2023-24, acquiring star point guard Damian Lillard and replacing head coach Mike Budenholzer, with Adrian Griffin. The addition of Lillard has been a success, but Griffin … not so much. The front office replaced him with the experienced Doc Rivers midseason — who has engineered some improvements but has still not managed the winning results the franchise craves.

The Bucks limped into the postseason having gone 3-8 over their last 11 regular season games, bumping them down to the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. With a difficult First Round matchup against the Indiana Pacers on the docket — a team Milwaukee went 1-4 against this year — plus a potential Conference Semifinal matchup against the New York Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers, the Bucks have an unfavorable path to the NBA Finals. Plus, they must play the first few games of the postseason without franchise cornerstone Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is nursing a calf injury.

With Giannis out and an imbalanced offense, here is the Bucks’ fatal flaw that will doom them in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

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Too much dependence on three-point shooting, not enough scoring in the paint

By acquiring Dame Lillard and trading away Jrue Holliday during the offseason, the Bucks significantly improved their offense. Their offensive rating is three points better per 100 possessions this season versus last year, as Lillard finished second on the team with 24.3 points per game. Yet similar to a season ago, this year’s team is still too reliant on three-point shooting. The Bucks are fourth in the NBA in three-pointers attempted and 26th in scoring in the paint.

Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the NBA with 20.3 PPG in the paint, accounting for more than 40% of Milwaukee’s 47.2 points/game in the paint. With the Greek Freak out for the beginning of the team’s First Round series against the Pacers, the Bucks’ offense becomes even more one-sided. It also means that Milwaukee will have a tough time exploiting Indiana’s biggest weakness — interior defense. The Pacers are last in the league in points in the paint allowed while ranking 28th in total rebounds per game and 26th in defensive rebounding percentage.

The Bucks attempted 37 three-pointers in their Game 1 win versus Indiana, more attempts than in four of Milwaukee’s five previous contests against the Pacers this year. In the playoff series against the Miami Heat last year, Milwaukee attempted more than 41 three-pointers per contest during the series. While they shot a modest 37.9% overall, Milwaukee shot just 24.4% from deep in Game 1 and 32.5% in Game 4 — both losses — while making 25 threes (at a clip better than 50%) in its lone series win in Game 2.

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Three-point shooting, while often an equalizer for underdog teams, can hinder favorites that overly rely on the outside shot. The Heat shot 45% from beyond the arc in that series against Milwaukee — an unsustainable number but reflective of the unpredictable nature of outside shooting percentages, especially in a short series. Giannis is a permanent mismatch down low and the Bucks rely on him for interior scoring. With the Greak Freak out and questions over his health even once he returns, it is difficult to see the Bucks getting the necessary paint scoring to make a deep run in the 2024  NBA Playoffs.

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