Despite the exhilarating debut of Damian Lillard for the Milwaukee Bucks, it became abundantly clear that the team's dynamics are still evolving. This realization dawned on fans and analysts alike as they witnessed Lillard's struggle on the court during the team's 127-110 setback against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
A Night of Contrast
Lillard, who made a stunning first impression by racking up 39 points in his inaugural game for the Bucks, hit a surprising slump in his second outing. He managed only six points, converting a mere 2 of his 12 field goal attempts and committing six turnovers.
This contrast in performance has earned Lillard the unenviable distinction of having the largest negative point differential (-33) between a player's debut and subsequent game for a team in NBA's rich history, a statistic verified by ESPN Stats & Information research.
"It's just our second game. We haven't played a bunch of games together. I think as we go, we'll figure that out and get better at it," Lillard opined, suggesting patience and trust in the team's synergy.
Lillard's Rare Off-Night
For those accustomed to Lillard's consistent scoring prowess, Sunday's game was an anomaly.
Prior to this, Lillard had consistently scored in double figures across 79 games, only second to his personal best streak of 230 consecutive games from 2016 to 2019. The match against the Hawks also marked the first instance since 2020 where Lillard failed to register any points in the first half.
Yet, fellow teammate and Bucks superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, remained unwavering in his faith. "It's game two. It's very, very early. We're still figuring ourselves out," Antetokounmpo said, emphasizing the need for Lillard to maintain his offensive aggression.
He further added, "At the end of the day, we need him to keep shooting, we need him to keep on being great."
The Road Ahead
Lillard, displaying the maturity and resilience that makes him one of the premier talents in the NBA, acknowledged the need for improvement. "You don't want to have these types of games, but they happen. Now we just got to learn from them," he reflected.