Let’s just start here:
In the last three games the Bucks have allowed runs of 41-6, 37-7 and now 37-8. What do you think they talk about in huddles? Basketball?— FrankMadden (@brewhoop) October 18, 2016
For a third straight preseason game, the Bucks went mind-numbingly cold from the field and allowed the opponents to go on a truly unbelievable run rarely seen in the NBA. It’s hard to fathom runs of that size, and yet the Bucks have now had one go against them in three straight games. But it’s just preseason, right? RIGHT?
On the bright side, the Bucks might have played their best basketball of the preseason in the first two quarters, hopping out to a 48-40 lead at the half. Unfortunately, the aforementioned run came in the second half, and the Pistons ultimately outscored the Bucks 62-30 in the second half on the way to a 102-78 blowout win at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (21 points, six rebounds, and four assists in 33 minutes) and Jabari Parker (18 points, five rebounds, and two steals in 32 minutes) looked good for the Bucks again in Detroit. They looked especially good in the first two quarters, with Antetokounmpo scoring 15 of his 21 points and Parker scoring 12 of his 18 points in the first half. Both players hit a three and otherwise attacked the rim relentlessly to wreak havoc on the Pistons’ defense.
Yeah, Giannis is going to do whatever he wants.https://t.co/zhv8tnwla9— Behind the Buck Pass (@BehindTheBucks) October 18, 2016
Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova also played well in the first half, which meant that for the first time this preseason the Bucks’ starting lineup really seemed to be clicking at the same time. Dellavedova tallied four assists and Teletovic scored eight first half points including a pair of threes, providing the starting lineup a couple more threats and making the Bucks’ starting group feel like a potent offensive unit.
The first half also marked one of the first times this preseason that the Bucks’ defense looked really strong, as they sped the Pistons up on offense with constant pressure and regularly turned Detroit turnovers into easy buckets offensively.
Alas, as I alluded to at the start, the second half happened and it went terribly. Crazy runs often happen in preseason basketball, and it can often just be a function of having non-NBA-caliber players getting a big chunk of minutes together. But that wasn’t the case in the third quarter. The Bucks were outscored 36-17 in the quarter, including a 23-6 run allowed by the starters before Monroe entered for Plumlee with 5:50 left in the quarter. Antetokounmpo played the entire quarter. Parker played over 11 minutes of the quarter. This was not players that will end up in the D-League getting stomped by one of the league’s best teams. This was the Bucks’ starting lineup -- one that a half hour earlier had looked in complete control.
Ultimately, part of the problem likely had to do with the oversized lineup that had worked so well in the first half. Trying to contain the smaller Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with Parker proved impossible, as the Pistons’ shooting guard got loose for a series of threes (6/11 on the game, 23 points) that the Bucks’ oversized wing defenders couldn’t find a way to bother. Overall, it’s dangerous to put too much stock into preseason play, but watching the team’s best players get doubled up in a quarter is hard not to worry about a little bit.
On the other hand, the fourth quarter was much less concerning. It was a number of guys that likely won’t be on the Bucks roster or end up playing all that much this season with a few quality players getting doubled up by the Pistons. It added to the lopsidedness of the second half totals, but ultimately not quite as scary as the third quarter. After not recording a single counting stat and generally getting worked by Henry Ellenson (14 pts, 5/8 fg, 3/3 threes) in the first half, Thon Maker got on the board with a midrange jumper and alley-oop finish from (who else?) Malcolm Brogdon, but otherwise there was little to report.
The rookie connection!https://t.co/fXcAxaMdjq— Behind the Buck Pass (@BehindTheBucks) October 18, 2016
The Bucks will wrap up their preseason schedule on Wednesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center against the Indiana Pacers, who beat the Bucks 101-86 last Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- Michael Beasley (right elbow), Tony Snell (sprained left ankle), Rashad Vaughn (sprained left ankle), and Jason Terry (right ankle sprain) all picked up DNPs against the Pistons.
- Antetokounmpo had five turnovers on the night, but two of them were questionable traveling and palming violations at the start of the third quarter.
- It seems like Kidd might be trying to get his most important players ready for the regular season as his starters picked up a lot of minutes in the first three quarters. Antetokounmpo/Dellavedova/Teletovic didn’t play at all in fourth quarter and still tallied 33/27/27 minutes respectively. Parker played 32 minutes, but only three and a half minutes in the fourth quarter.
- The Bucks had just 17 three point attempts on the night. Even worse, they made just four of those attempts. They are now averaging 20.4 three point attempts per game in the preseason, which is the third fewest in the NBA.
- Dellavedova has never seen an alley-oop he would not love to throw to Parker. Like he did against the Bulls, he threw a lob up to Parker with a defender in the way and forced Parker to try and go get it. His willingness to throw those lobs is both terrifying and thrilling.
- It could have been completely coincidental, but it looked like Teletovic was placed above the break and Parker stationed on the baseline on a number of offensive plays the starting unit ran on Monday, which helped open up the middle of the floor. It may not have been purposeful, but if it was, kudos to the coaching staff for the tweak. For example:
- Delly the Screener is going to be a lot of fun this season. One of the first sets the Bucks ran on Monday night featured Parker screening for Antetokounmpo in a pick and roll and ended with Parker getting fouled after Antetokounmpo found him rolling down the lane. The Bucks freed Parker to set the screen by having Dellavedova set a screen for Parker before popping out to the wing. They also used Dellavedova in an inverted pick and roll with Antetokounmpo later in the evening. Using your “point guard” as the screener makes defenders do things they are not used to doing on a nightly basis. The Bucks should use Delly as a screener regularly.
- Teletovic will be waiting on the right wing for a three on every single transition possession this season. Just throw the ball there. He will be waiting.
- This is ridiculous:
Giannis even travels better than your favorite playerhttps://t.co/eFURpxxPji— Behind the Buck Pass (@BehindTheBucks) October 18, 2016
- Antetokounmpo also threw a behind-the-back pass to Monroe under the basket when he was double-teamed during a post-up on the left block. Don’t ask how the play ended.
- The Bucks will look REALLY good when they can force turnovers and the other team has a poor matchup for Antetokounmpo. It’s still unclear when they also might look REALLY good. This seems like an obvious thing to say, but it just felt like we might have seen a few more moments that would inspire confidence this preseason.
- While Jabari Parker drew the task of KCP most of the night, the Bucks big lineup seemed to regularly switch on KCP screens. That makes some sense given they didn’t have a natural two with which to check him, though nothing seemed to work in the second half.