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Bucks vs. Pacers Preview: Preseason swan song

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just one week away from REAL LIVE NBA BASKETBALL. For one more night we’ll have to make do with its lesser preseason variant.

A week after using a 41-6 first half run to blow the Bucks’ doors off in Evansville, the Pacers make the trip to Milwaukee on Wednesday night for the Bucks’ preseason finale. Podcast preview:

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Bucks Update

The Bucks continued their befuddling habit of playing really well and then going into the fetal position for an extended period, building a 48-33 lead in Detroit on Monday before a 37-8 run blew the damn thing wide open for the Pistons. The good news: Giannis and Jabari look really difficult to stop, and that’s all that really matters. The bad news: we’re not sure if the other 13 guys can be massaged into a competitive basketball team.

While all of this comes with preseason disclaimers in red flashing lights, the Middleton-less Bucks’ offense has been the major issue thus far. They rank 29th in offensive efficiency, 29th in three pointers made, and 30th in pace, offering little evidence so far that media day rubber is meeting on-court road.

But don’t fret, Bucks fans: Milwaukee’s defense has been OK (15th!) and, more importantly, Jabari (22.1 pts and 8.2 rebs per 36 on 56.8% true shooting) and Giannis (20.5 pts, 6.7 rebs, 5.1 ast per 36 on 58.6% TS) are putting up numbers. Oh, and don’t sleep on Greg Monroe! While he’s struggled to make layups (38.8% from the field, sigh), the man that no team on earth wants to trade for is posting 20.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.2 steals (?!?) and 1.9 blocks per 36 in addition to a team-high 25.3 PER (check out lots of nicely organized preseason stats at RealGM).

Based on the Bucks’ most recent injury report, it would appear that everyone who ca play shooting guard has an ankle injury: the newly acquired Tony Snell and Jason Terry are listed as questionable while Rashad Vaughn is still listed as out. Still nursing an ankle injury from last week, Snell would seem all but assured to miss out after attending but not participating in practice on Tuesday, though Jason Kidd says it was a “possibility” that he could be ready to not only play but start the opener next Wednesday. As Charles Gardner reports, Snell was predictably thrilled at the chance to go from Fred Hoiberg’s outhouse to Jason Kidd’s penthouse:

“I was really excited,” Snell said. “It was really mind-blowing to come in and get the (chance to) start and show what I can do best.

“I already talked to some of my teammates and I saw the first practice. I know what this team needs. I’m going to go in and try to provide my knowledge and everything I learned from the Bulls the last three years. Bring it here and do the best I can.”​

Can you say #SNELLAVEDOVA?

Pacers Update

Indy enters the day at 3-2 after losing 114-106 to the Magic in their most recent outing, which featured all five Indy starters playing 32+ minutes, scoring between 14+ points and ending the game with a positive scoring differential. The problem was a 56-28 bench scoring advantage for Orlando, which shot 50% from the field and lit the Pacers up with Al Jefferson on the court. Reminder: trying to improve your offense often comes with tradeoffs. For whatever the preseason is worth, Indy ranks 11th in offensive efficiency (a big improvement from 25th) and 14th in defense (a big downgrade from 3rd). Stay tuned.

On the injury front, C.J. Miles and Aaron Brooks are doubtful while Kevin Seraphin is out. No word yet on whether Nate McMillan might rest any of his key guys -- you may recall Paul George was under the weather and didn’t suit up against the Bucks last week.