|2013/14 NBA Season|
|October 30, 2013|
|Madison Square Garden | New York, NY|
|FS Wisconsin / MSG | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass|
|Brandon Knight||PG||Pablo Prigioni|
|O.J. Mayo||SG||Raymond Felton|
|Khris Middleton||SF||Iman Shumpert|
|Caron Butler||PF||Carmelo Anthony|
|Larry Sanders||C||Tyson Chandler|
|2012/13 Advanced Stats|
|94.7 (3rd)||Pace||89.8 (26th)|
|103.6 (22nd)||ORtg||111.1 (3rd)|
|105.2 (12th)||DRtg||106.3 (17th)|
Starters for tonight vs. Milwaukee: Felton, Prigioni, Shumpert, Anthony, Chandler— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) October 30, 2013
Meanwhile, Ilyasova went full speed during Tuesday's workout but is listed as questionable for the opener and would likely see limited minutes even if he is deemed fit to play. We've penciled Khris Middleton and Caron Butler in as the starting forwards until further notice, though Drew did indicate on Tuesday that Butler would likely play more of the 4-spot in that lineup with Middleton at the three. Andrew Gruman reports:
"My mind likes it, my body is trying to get used to it banging with the bigger guys," Butler said of playing power forward. "I think it's fun. It's a style and direction the NBA is heading toward -- more smaller, fast-pace basketball. It's fun to play that way, and we have had success playing it. I'm going to look forward to playing a lot of four periodically throughout the season."
Themes. We still know relatively little about how all the Bucks' pieces will fit together this season, but some topics are more obvious than others heading into game one:
- Can the new, perimeter-focused Bucks keep up with the Knicks' bombs away approach to offense? Milwaukee finished 9th in the league with just over 20 three-pointers attempted per game last season, but New York averaged a league-leading 29 per game and finished fifth in percentage to boot. Steve's already gone into detail about why the Bucks will need to look more like the Knicks this year in terms of shot selection, and the results speak for themselves: 8 of the top 9 teams in three point attempts last year made the playoffs. But without a dominant wing or post option to draw defensive attention, can Milwaukee create enough open looks to follow suit?
- Anthony is likely to get his 20+ points no matter what the Bucks do, so the goal should be making him work for his points and earn his money on long twos rather than shots at the basket and from the foul line. The challenge is that Melo was money from outside the paint last year (43% long twos, 38% threes), though he also took more long jumpers than anyone other than Steph Curry (12.6 shots from 16+ feet vs. Melo's 11.6).
With Luc Mbah a Moute and Marquis Daniels gone, the Bucks no longer have anyone remotely in the "stopper" category, so we'll get a look at what Butler, Middleton and possibly Giannis Antetokounmpo can muster against Anthony. The Bucks also showed a fair bit of zone in Green Bay a week ago, so we'll have to see if Larry Drew liked what he saw enough to try it some more.
- Antetokounmpo will likely be the only small forward available to Larry Drew off the bench, so my guess is that he'll end up making his NBA debut at some point on Wednesday. But unless Middleton or Butler run into serious foul trouble (always a possibility with Melo involved), I'd be (pleasantly) surprised to see Giannis play more than 10-12 minutes.
- The Bucks should try to run against every opponent, but the Knicks aren't the easiest team to do it against. New York was among the league's slower teams in terms of pace, ranked fourth in terms of preventing opponent fast break points (11.7 ppg). The plus side? No team scored fewer points in transition last season either (8.5 ppg).
- O.J. Mayo is everyone's best bet to lead the Bucks in scoring this season, so I'll guess that he does it in game one, too--especially with Ilyasova short of 100%. He played a complete game against the Knicks in Green Bay, so here's to hoping he can muster an encore under the decidedly brighter lights at MSG.