Last shots: Bucks 118, Pacers 101

MILWAUKEE – Twenty last shots for the 20 minutes played by Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo in the Bucks’ 118-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at Fiserv Forum.

1. The Milwaukee Bucks opened up Fiserv Forum on Friday night with a win over the Indiana Pacers. It wasn’t always pretty, especially early, but it showed what can be expected consistently in this building.

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2. The game operations staff did a terrific job of introducing the new coaching staff, arena, and team with a relatively quick pregame ceremony on the video board that hangs high above center court. The Bucks even unveiled what appears to be a new slogan, “Built to Stay” that appears to be replacing the “Own the Future” phrase that’s been used since Jason Kidd’s arrival as coach in 2014.

3. Obviously, Kidd is gone, and now that slogan is as well. This is a good, if not overdue, move for this organization. Although, the whole “Built to Stay” is something that feels aimed at superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

4. Antetokounmpo has been nothing but loyal to the organization that selected him with the 15th overall selection back in 2013. That being said, things can certainly change between now and when he will enter free agency in a couple of seasons. Especially if the Bucks don’t make any postseason progress between now and then. This new phrase absolutely is aimed at keeping Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

5. As far as the rest of the pregame festivities, the Bucks nailed the video and the team introduction, but a weird thing did happen. The Indiana Pacers starting lineup and coach Nate McMillan were never announced. It seemed as if they were waiting for it to happen, then the lights in the arena cut out for the Bucks to have their turn, leaving the Pacers to stand around and watch. Odd.

6. Once the countdown to tip came one of the members of Milwaukee’s in-game entertainment staff was on the microphone and instructed fans to wave the towels that were handed out from before tip-off until the Bucks scored their first points inside Fiserv Forum.

7. Well, Indiana’s Myles Turner scored the first regular season basket in the history of the arena, then Darren Collison hit the second, Victor Oladipo hit the third, and then Turner collected his second. In a short couple of minutes, the Bucks were trailing 8-0, coach Mike Budenholzer spent his first time out, and only a few brave souls were left waving the towels.

8. “The first couple minutes, I don’t know what it was,” Budenholzer said. “It was like we were on another planet or something.”

9. Not how the Bucks envisioned opening the arena.

10. After that rough start the Bucks rebounded nicely and went on an extended 38-21 run and had the game in control, never looking back. A big reason as to why this was the case was the Indiana Pacers had a big-time math problem against Milwaukee.

11. The Pacers – last year at least – relied on the mid-range jump shot heavily. In today’s NBA that’s far from advised. Teams are opting to play with pace and space, looking for open 3-pointers or shots in the lane. The Pacers don’t do those things at nearly the same rate as the Bucks are attempting to, which is an issue for them.

12. The Bucks didn’t just shoot a few more 3-pointers than the Pacers, they more than doubled the number of shots from behind the arc. Milwaukee finished with a franchise record 47 3-point attempts in the win. The previous high was 33 3-point attempts (done twice) most recently last April against the Denver Nuggets.

13. In fact, the Bucks had more attempts from inside the arc than they did outside the arc on the night. Shooting 47 3-pointers against 46 2-pointers was also a franchise first.

14. Naturally, there were both some positives and some negatives to the barrage of 17 makes from deep. On the bright side they outscored Indiana 51-18 in that category and John Henson knocked down a pair of triples as well. Conversely, Antetokounmpo struggled in that spot, finishing without a make in seven attempts.

15. “That’s just kind of the way the offense is,” Henson said after the game. “Our motto is to let it fly. We work on it every day. It’s what we need to do to be successful.”

16. Letting it fly is certainly one way to put it, and on Friday night I’m not sure that’s the phrase to justify it. There are tons of crazy stats to look at from the game in terms of the shot chart, but the one that may explain it best has to do with Brook Lopez.

17. Lopez made a pair of threes on the night, which is fine and nothing outrageous. The crazy part is that he attempted eight of them in 22 minutes on the floor. That’s the same number of attempts that the entire starting unit of the Pacers combined for on the evening, and that came in 140 combined minutes.

18. The Bucks are going to start winning games based on math alone, similarly to the way the Houston Rockets were able to in 2017-18. The Rockets decided that 3-pointers are worth more than 2-pointers (duh) and that they should take as many of those as possible. Even if the team shoots a very sustainable 36 percent from deep, it creates a scoring gap that forces the other team to attempt to keep up.

19. “If we’re attacking the paint and attacking the basket, and we’re getting great shots there, then we’ll take [the threes],” Budenholzer said. “We’re fortunate that we’ve got several guys that can get to the basket that can collapse the defense and create rotations. Then we’ve got to have great spacing and guys ready to catch-and-shoot around those guys.”

20. So, yeah, the Bucks are going to let it fly this year.

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