The last time the Bucks played a game in Madison, the big news was George Karl's decision to start Danny Manning next to J.R. Reid.
In other words, it's been a while.
Two weeks after holding training camp in the state capital, the Bucks return to Madison on Tuesday to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves -- a full 16 years after last playing a live (preseason) game in Madison. Yes, it was about time the Bucks showed their fans in Madtown some love, especially given the team's state-supported arena financing deal and the franchise's renewed emphasis on becoming a state-wide brand over the past year.
Expect a good crowd to be on hand, though whether they get to see "good basketball" is an open question. The Bucks haven't exactly set the world on fire over the past couple of weeks, losing three of four preseason games while being outscored by an average of 8.5 points per game. The upside is that they've looked better in their last two games, though a win over the JV Cavs and a narrow loss to the John Wall-less Wiz isn't exactly world-beating stuff.
Moreover, we finally have official word that Jabari Parker won't return to game action for another few weeks, headlining a long list of injured Bucks that also includes Damien Inglis (illness), Tyler Ennis (shoulder) and Miles Plumlee (sore knee). While Parker continues to practice and by all accounts make excellent progress, the Bucks understandably aren't taking any chances. Charles Gardner of the Journal-Sentinel reports:
"The doctors said hopefully at some part of November, if everything goes well," Kidd said of Parker's projected return after the 6-8 forward underwent knee surgery in January. "If there's a setback, then that all changes."
The Bucks have to make lineup plans in the interim, and Kidd is still weighing his options.
"Any of them could start at the 4 or play 4," Kidd said of the four players he is considering. "You look at Giannis playing 4. We can have Giannis at the 3, but we're not afraid to put him at the 4.
"We want to look at different combinations. We're going to have a different lineup for the opening game (Oct. 28 vs. New York) just because of Jabari and Giannis not being able to participate.
"Still some of these spots are there for the taking. We might be a deep team, but we might be looking at having less than 12 players being able to suit up and play."
Of course, things could be going worse...just ask the Wolves. While they're loaded to the gills with intriguing young talent, the Wolves have struggled to translate that into anything cohesive in the preseason thus far, hinting that a regular season breakthrough might also be another year away as well. Zach LaVine has shot just 10/43 from the field, possibly losing the starting shooting guard gig he was handed just last month. Andrew Wiggins has been only a bit better at 16/43, and Ricky Rubio only returned from a quad injury on Sunday against Memphis -- a game where he scored 0 points in 23 minutes as the Grizzlies won 90-68. And we haven't even mentioned coach Flip Saunders' indefinite absence due to Lymphoma, a battle far more important than any on the court.
Still, it's all about the long game for the Wolves, and there's little doubt that they have among the most coveted young cores in the league. Karl-Anthony Towns has already flashed plenty of evidence for why the Wolves drafted him first overall in June, Wiggins will be just fine, and the team is packed with random young guys who could be strong complements to the back-to-back first overall picks -- Shabazz Muhammad, Badger-killer Tyus Jones, Gorgui Dieng and LaVine to name the most obvious. The hope is that prodigal son Kevin Garnett can make his swan song an instructive one for Timberpups, though it's likely he'll be retired by the time they start to put it all together.
|2015/16 NBA Preseason|
|October 20, 2015|
|Kohl Center | Madison, WI|
|FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Ricky Rubio|
|Khris Middleton||SG||Andrew Wiggins|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||SF||Tayshaun Prince|
|Chris Copeland||PF||Kevin Garnett|
|Greg Monroe||C||Karl-Anthony Towns|
|2014/15 Advanced Stats|
|102.7 (26th)||ORtg||102.9 (25th)|
|102.2 (4th)||DRtg||112.2 (30th)|