The Milwaukee Bucks' three-decade streak of opening the season on the road is about to end.
With the league set to release its schedule on Wednesday, reports on Tuesday suggested that the Bucks would open the 15/16 campaign at home on Wednesday, October 28 vs. Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, putting an end to the franchise's usual tradition of opening on the road in order to kick off the home calendar on a weekend. Typically that's come on a Saturday, though last season it happened on a Friday.
Historically the Bucks have needed the added convenience of a Friday or Saturday night opener to boost opening night attendance, though hopefully the time's are changing on that front. Riding the high of a new ownership group and a young roster that had just added Jabari Parker, the Bucks leveraged a major marketing blitz to sell out last season's Friday night opener, the first time in years that they had managed that fairly modest feat. That probably says more about how bad things had been previously, but it was a start, especially considering their matchup with the Sixers last October featured the two worst teams from the prior season. Baby steps, OK?
An opening night matchup with the Knicks also brings its fair share of subplots, the most obvious being Greg Monroe's Bucks debut coming against the team that most observers expected him to sign with this summer. The Knicks instead settled for Robin Lopez, who had also been pursued by the Bucks as a plan B. Adding further intrigue: RoLo and Bango have a history, you guys.
The obvious downside of opening at home is who won't be available: Giannis Antetokounmpo is suspended for the first game of the regular season after steam-rolling Mike Dunleavy in Milwaukee's playoff-ending game six loss, while there's still no official timetable for when Jabari Parker will be cleared to return following his ACL reconstruction. If not for the suspension, Giannis might have faced off for the first time against his older brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the 2014 Knicks second rounder who recently signed a two-year, partially guaranteed deal with New York. Next time, AntetokounmBros.
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It's been a long time since a young free agent with real choices went for Brew Town, but it was indicative of how far Jason Kidd brought the franchise forward in his first season as coach. The Bucks didn't hesitate in giving Middleton a huge deal to keep him off the free-agent market, and with Monroe up front they should improve what was anemic paint production last season. Vaughn was a surprise to go that high, though he's talented, to be sure, but the Bucks just put big bills into Middleton at the two. The Bucks will also be bolstered by the return of forward Jabari Parker this season after he tore his ACL last December. They will have an incredibly potent frontcourt with Monroe and Giannis Antetokounmpo to throw at opponents next season.
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Because he's wonderful and the best, Jabari Parker kicked off a new attendance initiative this week with Milwaukee Public Schools. Related: Jabari Parker is the best.
Bucks' strength and conditioning guru Suki Hobson also reminded us on Tuesday that Jabari's still working hard on his rehab:
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John Henson and Greivis Vasquez got to know each other with some pro-am ball in Miami this week. Never too early to build some of that second unit chemistry, eh?