The Bucks traveled to Evansville, Indiana to take on the Indiana Pacers in their third preseason game on Wednesday night.
It did not go well.
The Bucks fell 101-83, which fails to truly capture the depth of the Bucks’ ugly play during a dreadful first half. For a true representation of the Bucks performance, look no further than the 49-12 run the Pacers used to end the first half and head to halftime leading the Bucks by 31. And yet Wednesday shouldn’t be too troubling, mainly because the Bucks’ All-Length starting lineup — and Giannis Antetokounmpo in particular — acquitted themselves quite well. We discuss that and much more on today’s Locked on Bucks podcast:
As we’ve noted after the Bucks’ two preseason wins, one preseason loss never tells us too much about a basketball team, and fortunately there were silver linings to be found in what was a mostly uncompetitive game. As discussed, here were those signs of life discussed on the podcast:
Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson come alive! After struggling a bit in the Bucks’ first two preseason games, both players played well in their limited time on Wednesday night. Antetokounmpo put up an impressive line (20 points, six assists, five rebounds) in just 25 minutes and generally put his stamp on the game while he was in it. Henson did much of the same, scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds in just 17 minutes of game action. He was active on both ends of the floor, but especially on the offensive end of the floor, where he was able to puncture the Pacers defense with well-timed cuts to open spaces.
Jason Kidd LOVES getting weird. Much of the reason for Antetokounmpo’s hot start was the Pacers’ inability to find a proper matchup against the Macolm Brogdon/Giannis/Jabari/Thon Maker/Henson starting group. Nate McMillan started with Ellis assigned to check Giannis, which led to a series of Antetokounmpo post-ups that turned into dunks for Giannis and his teammates. The large Bucks starting lineup with Antetokounmpo at shooting guard last night gave the Pacers fits, and that lineup may do that to teams around the league. The question with any of the Bucks’ WEIRD lineups will likely come at the other end of the floor, and they survived defensively in both the first and third quarters.
What’s the Bucks’ best defensive lineup? This is a puzzling question. With Middleton out for much of the season, much of the defensive versatility the Bucks might have had in end of game situations has disappeared. It seems obvious that Jabari Parker would be a negative at the small/power forward position, but who would you insert in his place? Mirza Teletovic? Michael Beasley?!? Is rookie Thon Maker already the Bucks’ best defensive option at the four spot? Can you even construct a great defensive lineup on paper from this Bucks roster?
Will Jason Kidd use a placeholder starter at shooting guard this season? Malcolm Brogdon leads the Bucks in minutes this preseason, but has shot a paltry 26 percent from the field and 14 percent from the three point line. Rashad Vaughn is somehow shooting worse at just 15 percent from the field and 11 percent from deep. Both have shown positive signs defensively and Brogdon has had some positive moments as a playmaker, but neither appear to be fit for a starting role in the NBA. Does that mean Kidd will just go with a big lineup like we saw the past two games, or does that mean one of them will be given a placeholder (a la Johnny O’Bryant) start, where they start the game but only play 12-15 minutes?