Linkage: Rufus on Fire
The Bucks make their annual trip to Green Bay 24 hours after a long night in Detroit, and unfortunately for fans in Green Bay it looks like Andrew Bogut, John Salmons, and Corey Maggette will again all miss out for the third time in as many preseason games.
Scott Skiles hinted he was unlikely to use Bogut this weekend after he missed a couple days of practice with a sore hand, but at least he's actually practiced in the past week. The same can't be said of John Salmons (sprained knee) and Corey Maggette (ankle), both of whom are just hoping to take part at some point in preseason. Adding to the list of injured starters was Carlos Delfino, who played against Chicago with a toe problem but sat out last night in Detroit when it didn't improve. The JS reports that Delfino may play more at off guardthis season, though much of it will probably come down to whose available at any given time.
"I think we have plays set for the 2 to create from pick-and-rolls and that's something I like to do. I've been doing that all summer with the national team. It's more my natural position. So if it helps, I'm more than ready to try to do it."
What we've learned so far
The upside of all the injuries is that it's given the Bucks more time to look at newcomers like Chris Douglas-Roberts (18 points in his homecoming) and Larry Sanders, each of whom played prominent roles last night. Sanders started 4/7 but then made just 1/10 shots in the fourth quarter and overtime, finishing just 5/17 from the field but adding nine boards and five blocks. Going by the play-by-play, Sanders' first three buckets came on dunks (yay inside shots!) before making a jumper, and his final hoop came on a hook shot with 16 seconds left. Plenty of missed jumpers mixed in as well, which is the downside of a big man with shooting touch.
But for all the positive from getting extended looks at new faces, the injuries more importantly mean the Bucks aren't building up the rhythm and familiarity with one another that you'd hope to get from camp. They've still managed to be competitive, which is a testament to the effort, depth and organization of the team and coaching staff. But as we saw a year ago, chemistry is crucial to building a good defensive club, and while the Bucks weren't particularly impressive in the 2009 preseason, they would be well served to hit the ground running if they hope to crack the top four in the East this year. The good news is that after tonight the Bucks get four days off before traveling next Thursday to Washington to play John Wall and company in an NBATV game, so hopefully that will mean at least a couple of the Bucks' bigger names can get healthy. While I won't be pushing for Bogut to come back too soon, it would be nice to get some semblance of the lineup we're expecting to see on opening night.