Through 96 minutes of preseason basketball, the Milwaukee Bucks have yet to look like a team ready to break into the East's upper echelon. Thankfully, they still have four games and 15 days to work out the kinks before the NBA's regular season begins.
The Bucks look to bounce back from an ugly home loss to the Pistons on Saturday night when they travel to Cleveland on Tuesday (6 pm CT, NBA TV), a task that figures to be greatly simplified by the expected absences of LeBron James (rest), Kevin Love (just started practicing after shoulder surgery), Kyrie Irving (still out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury), and Tristan Thompson (still unsigned). What that means for the Cavs' starting five tonight isn't clear, though it presumably won't be pretty. Timofey Mozgov and a cloud of dust?
Not that the Bucks will be at full strength either, and it's worth noting they lost to a depleted Bulls team a week ago, too. Jabari Parker is practicing but will once again be held out for precautionary reasons, Chris Copeland will miss his third straight preseason game due to family reasons, Miles Plumlee is day-to-day after awkward falling on his right knee, and Tyler Ennis (shoulder surgery) is reportedly around a month away from returning.
Even so, the Bucks should have a clear talent advantage given all those Cavaliers missing in action, and they can probably use it after their "dress rehearsal" against Detroit went sideways from the opening tip. Despite an 18/8 night from Greg Monroe against his former team and another encouraging set of performances from Rashad Vaughn and Damien Inglis, the Bucks hemorrhaged points early and were never competitive against Stan Van Gundy's crew on Saturday.
Michael Carter-Williams managed to score efficiently (14 points on 9 shots) while starting with Greivis Vasquez for the first time, but questions about how the Bucks will handle their backcourt rotations remain. Beyond that, Giannis Antetokounmpo has yet to hit his stride while playing mostly PF in Parker's absence, and the Bucks' defense has in general struggled since holding the Bulls to 37 points in the preseason opener. It's still not much to go on, but a strong showing in Northeast Ohio would be a nice way to kick off the preseason's final fortnight.
|2015/16 NBA Season|
|October 13, 2015|
|Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, OH|
|NBA TV | 620 WTMJ|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Matthew Dellavedova|
|Rashad Vaughn||SG||Jared Cunningham|
|Khris Middleton||SF||Richard Jefferson|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||PF||Anderson Varejao|
|Greg Monroe||C||Timofey Mozgov|
|2014/15 Advanced Stats|
|102.7 (26th)||ORtg||111.1 (3rd)|
|102.2 (4th)||DRtg||106.3 (18th)|