UPDATE: Tony Snell will start at shooting guard in his first game as a Buck, while Nets Daily reports that Brook Lopez will be rested on the second night of their back-to-back. Kidd said in his pregame availability he would likely play Snell something in the area of 20 minutes tonight.
Following their season-opening 107-96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks will be hoping to get their first win of the young season Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets, who fell on opening night to the Boston Celtics 122-117 before bouncing back with a 103-94 comeback win over the Pacers on Friday night.
After losing their home opener, Milwaukee was officially eliminated from playoff contention...wait no, let’s try that again. At this point, it’s abundantly clear the offseason acquisitions were a mistake, and there’s no way they’ll fit...that’s not true either? Hmm, I guess it was just a regular old loss to a team that won 48 games last year then.
Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly didn’t disappoint, pouring in a casual 31/9/5 line with only one turnover. Plus, Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon both looked like very competent complements in the backcourt. Moose played with energy on the offensive and defensive end.
There were certainly some concerns though. Jabari Parker looked notably more hesitant than during his impressive preseason, scoring only 13 points on nine shots, several of which came in the closing minutes with the game already sewn up. The suffocating defense of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may have had something to do with that, though MKG’s 23-point night on the other end was just as problematic. The Bucks’ defense looked rather lackadaisical overall, giving up critical offensive putbacks and allowing easy penetration, a concern given Jeremy Lin’s penchant for getting into the lane.
How the Bucks manage their center roulette will continue to be an open question for the foreseeable future as well. Miles Plumlee started but played just eight ineffective minutes against the Hornets, while Monroe entered into the game only a few minutes into each half. The Bucks also managed just a 3/16 effort from beyond the three-point arc, a troubling sign given their relative inability to shoot more 3-pointers in the preseason as well.
On the bright side, it looks like Milwaukee’s newest addition, Tony Snell, is finally fit for his Bucks’ debut:
Tony Snell went through full practice Friday and should be available for Bucks vs. Nets on Saturday night. Said he felt great in practice.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) October 28, 2016
With Snell hurt, Malcolm Brogdon backing up at the point and Rashad Vaughn both injured and ineffective of late, Kidd opted to start Mirza Teletovic alongside Giannis and Jabari. It didn’t last too long, however, as he opted to start Vaughn after halftime — an experiment that last only a few minutes before Kidd had seen enough of the struggling 20-year-old. In other words, the bar for starting at the two is perilously low right now, suggesting that Snell could start as soon as tonight.
The Brooklyn Nets continue to string together as respectable a squad as possible despite their depressing future. Their opening night loss to the Boston Celtics felt particularly cruel given the Nets continue to owe Boston their next two first-round picks, though they had reason to feel better after using a 30-15 final quarter to knock off the Pacers. All in all, it’s been an impressive first week for first-year coach Kenny Atkinson, who previously served under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta.
Lopez bounced back from a minutes-restricted debut to score 26 against the Pacers, with Lin adding a near-triple-double with 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. The Nets starters don’t space the floor well with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker at the forward slots, but their bench went 8/19 from deep vs. Indy thanks in no small part to the shooting of former Bucks summer leaguer Sean Kilpatrick (wouldn’t he have been a nice addition?).
Against Boston, Bojan Bogdanovic led the team in scoring with 21, continuing the fireworks display he started this summer in the Olympics for Croatia. Jeremy Lin added 18, Joe Harris poured in 16 and Justin Hamilton (who?) put up 19 and 10 rebounds.
Their roster is, shall we say, eclectic, with Brook Lopez as the only true star anchoring the team. Hollis-Jefferson is a nasty defender, but has a rather limited offensive game. Luis Scola still looks like a grumpy bus driver but will inevitably grab some rebounds and has a storied past as a Bucks killer. And Greivis Vasquez makes his triumphant return to Milwaukee. The Nets don’t inspire much optimism, but expect plenty of “they play hard” with Atkinson’s strong reputation.
Their first-round pick this year, Caris LaVert, remains sidelined while rehabbing a broken foot, while veteran combo guard Randy Foye is also out with a hamstring injury.