The season's first preseason game in Milwaukee felt very similar to your run-of-the-mill Bucks vs. Bulls regular season clash. There were lots of Bulls fans in the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Derrick Rose was knifing up and down the court. And ultimately, Chicago came away with the victory.
The Bucks made a game of it in the fourth quarter, but couldn't completely close the gap against a somewhat hodgepodge Bulls lineup. Milwaukee struggled mightily from the floor, particularly Ersan Ilyasova who made just 4-20 shot attempts (1-4 3PT). Larry Sanders had 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals, but also fouled out in just 25 minutes. It's possibly Sanders was playing with more abandon than usual, but Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah clearly gave him fits at times. Still, it was encouraging to see the energy that made Larry famous back on display, and he made a number of plays under the basket thanks to his length and hustle alone.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 27 minutes of action. He spent most of the fourth quarter at point guard for the Bucks, initiating the offense but not doing a ton of real playmaking. He made some nice passes but only had one assist. His fouling and turnovers (5 and 3, respectively) were a bit worrisome, but his movement looks much better already this preseason.
Jabari Parker also had a tough night from the floor, shooting 5-14 for 11 points in 32 minutes. He made a couple strong moves to the rim early in the game, including a contested dunk that displayed his exceptional upper body strength, but struggled late when given the chance to create some shots himself. Even the second-unit Bulls in preseason mode are an imposing unit to "try things out" on, and a lack of aggression at this stage would be more discouraging than missing 9 shots.
All the ingredients are there for a sloppy Milwaukee offense. Lots of young players, and new (and inexperienced) head coach, and just two preseason games under their belt so far. And for much of the game, that's just how they looked. But there were instances where things seemed to run much smoother, and Kendall Marshall was at the controls for many of them. Marshall's passing ability was on full display, as he lobbed long passes over defenders and hit his screeners in stride near the rim. Marshall finished with 6 assists in 18 minutes. He also shot 1-5 from the field, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Milwaukee is now 1-2 this preseason. The'll travel to Cleveland Tuesday night to face LeBron James, Kevin Love, and the Cavaliers.