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Bucks vs. Wizards Preview: Giannis Antetokounmpo expected back, Jabari Parker still out as Wizards land in Milwaukee

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Three games down, three games to go.

The Milwaukee Bucks begin the second half of their preseason slate Saturday night in Milwaukee, where they'll take on a Wizards team likely to rest at least some key players after their 127-118 win over the Sixers on Friday night. John Wall racked up 14 assists in 21 minutes and rookie Kelly Oubre scored 16 points on just four shots, though Otto Porter will presumably miss tonight's game after tweaking his ankle in Philly. Which reminds me: why on earth are preseason back-to-backs actually a thing?

Thankfully they aren't for the Bucks, who face a relatively light six-game preseason schedule ahead of their October 28 at home against the Knicks. Expect Giannis Antetokounmpo to be back in Jason Kidd's lineup tonight after resting on Tuesday, though don't expect Jabari Parker to make his debut tonight (or, realistically, anytime this preseason). Via Charles Gardner:

"The doctor has to clear him," Kidd said. "The medical staff has to determine if he's done everything to play. We'll start there.

"Then it trickles down. But there's a plan and we're all on the same page."

Bucks fans are understandably anxious to see Parker back on the court, but no one can blame the franchise for playing it safe. A rusty, not-quite-there-yet Parker isn't going to help them much on the court anyway, and if it increases the risk of injury why bother?

Chris Copeland on the other hand could play tonight -- he's back with the team after missing the first three games due to a family emergency.

Three Point Deficit

It's never worth making too much of preseason stats, but the Bucks' deficit from behind the arc is one that's giving me some concern. We knew coming into the camp that the Bucks were unlikely to outgun opponents from deep -- they were in the league's bottom third in three pointers made and attempted last year, while conceding a relatively high rate to opponents in both categories. But their saving grace was in the percentages; they were top ten in both percentage made and allowed, which blunted the impact of the deficit in raw terms.

Still, through three games (sample size alert!) the Bucks' previous tendencies have gotten rather extreme: no team is making or attempting fewer threes than Milwaukee (5.0/15.3, 32.6%), and no team is allowing opponents to make or attempt more (12.3/35.7, 34.6%). That's right, Bucks opponents are averaging 20 more three point attempts per game and connecting on seven more per contest, meaning the Bucks have averaged a 21-point deficit from behind the arc. Obviously some of this is flukiness -- among other things, Khris Middleton hasn't hit a single three yet (and only attempted two) in nearly 70 minutes, while the Bucks seem a bit more disorganized than usual in terms of picking up coverages when plays break down. Mean reversion will flatten that deficit over time.

But let's not forget that the Bucks are also somewhat contrarian in terms of their regard for the three point shot. Their overloading defense in many ways challenges teams to move the ball to find open corner threes (how anti-Thibodeauian!), while Kidd -- who ironically ranks fifth all-time in NBA threes made -- has never shown much interest in shooting threes just for the sake of it. Defensively the issue is probably just a short-term one: though it flies in the face of what teams like the Chicago Bulls do, the Bucks' defensive philosophy has clearly worked. But offensively it's reasonable to ask whether Jason Kidd's de-emphasis of the three will lead to sub-optimal results.

2015/16 NBA Season
(1-2, 1-1 road)
vs.
(3-1, 2-1 home)
October 17, 2015
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
No Local TV | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Michael Carter-Williams PG Ramon Sessions
Khris Middleton SG Bradley Beal
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Kelly Oubre
Johnny O'Bryant III PF Kris Humphries
Greg Monroe C Marcin Gortat
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.1(13th) Pace 93.7 (18th)
102.7 (26th) ORtg 103.7 (22nd)
102.2 (4th) DRtg 103.0 (5th)