For the second straight year, the Bucks played their first “home” preseason game at the Kohl Center and they seemed intent on showing Madison a good time — or at least that was Jabari Parker’s focus Saturday night. The Bucks forward led the team in scoring with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting while adding six rebounds, a steal, a block, and all of the highlights a fan could ever need.
Conversely, his young running mate Giannis Antetokounmpo had a quiet night with just six points, six rebounds, and two assists. He appears to be trying to figure out his new environment with a number of new players on the floor (in different locations) and a number of different player combinations. Greg Monroe started for the Bucks tonight instead of Miles Plumlee and appeared to be quite energetic on his way to 12 points, five rebounds, and four steals in 19 minutes. Matthew Dellavedova was also added to the starting lineup and had a modest night with three points, three rebounds, and five assists, but his five assists were pretty loud with three of them coming on alley-oops.
It was a sloppy start again for the Bucks as everyone got in on missing shots at the rim in the early going. Milwaukee started just 5/21 from the field, with Parker, Antetokounmpo, and Monroe all missing layups in the opening minutes of the game. But despite the sloppy start, the Bucks were able to hop out to a 11-4 lead before letting the Mavericks put together a 11-1 run to take a 15-12 lead. The Bucks finished the quarter strong with Thon Maker’s first NBA (preseason) appearance and an 18 foot catch-and-shoot jumper to get him on the board for the first time on the way to leading 20-19 after one quarter.
The second quarter was all about Jabari Parker. Parker went five-for-five in the second quarter and attacked the rim relentlessly on his way to leading the Bucks in scoring with 13 points at the half. He actually attacked the rim so tenaciously that he needed some ice for his forehead when he came out of the game at the end of the night.
TFW you dunk so hard you gotta ice your head... pic.twitter.com/qluuedV0Sz— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 9, 2016
Parker’s aggressiveness helped the Bucks start the second quarter on a 17-5 run, and Thon Maker gave the crowd a charge when he scored his first NBA points on a rhythm 20-footer. Alas, things didn’t go quite as well when Michael Beasley took over as the lead playmaker (?!) for Parker. Beasley’s array of forced and contested jumpers off the dribble were not quite as efficient as Parker’s attempts within a foot of the rim. Nonetheless, the Bucks took a 42-32 lead into halftime.
To start the second half, the Bucks leaned on the surprising pick-and-roll combination of Matthew Dellavedova and Greg Monroe. First, it was a #DellyOop to Monroe (!) and then a nifty bounce pass on a side pick-and-roll to get Monroe going to start the second half. Both teams quickly become bored with the halfcourt game though and decided a faster pace might be a little more fun. They were right.
The two teams seemingly exchanged dunks for the first portion of the third quarter, with Parker adding eight more points to his total, including a tough baseline putback between two defenders and a pretty finish off another #DellyOop.
After three quarters the Bucks led 67-59, but the start of the fourth quarter gave many fans what they wanted all along: The Thon Maker Show. Fellow rookie Malcolm Brogdon seemed determined to give the people what they wanted to see by finding Maker for an alley-oop finish to start the quarter and then finding him an open jumper just a play later. Halfway through the fourth quarter, Steve Novak checked in for Maker (9 pts, 3/6 fg, 3/4 ft, 4 reb, 1 block) and the game featured a number of the players trying to earn NBA contracts. In the end, the Bucks came away with an 88-74 win.
They will be back in preseason action on Wednesday as they take on the Indiana Pacers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m.
- The Bucks used a new starting lineup tonight. Preseason! Matthew Dellavedova, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Mirza Teletovic, and Greg Monroe started for Milwaukee tonight. And apparently, as long as there isn’t a shooting guard on the floor, it is okay to introduce Antetokounmpo as a guard.
- Thon Maker was all over the place, except at center. He only saw the floor with Henson, Plumlee or Monroe on Saturday night.
- When Michael Carter-Williams played with Antetokounmpo, he tended to bring the ball up the floor or initiate the offense. Not sure it matters, but it felt like it was worth noting.
- We’ve discussed the trio of Antetokounmpo/Parker/Teletovic on Locked on Bucks in the past. Zach Lowe brought it up this week in his Annual League Pass rankings. And on Saturday night, we finally got to see it on the floor and I don’t think the results were all that surprising. They were probably a little worse than expected together offensively, but, like many worried, they struggled defensively, especially on the glass. There were a couple sequences where Antetokounmpo was stuck on the perimeter, which led to Parker or Teletovic attempting to challenge Mavericks at the rim or clean up a miss on the backside and it didn’t go well.
- Rashad Vaughn was reportedly questionable before the game with a sprained right ankle. He did not play.
- The Bucks are still definitely trying to figure out how to operate their offense with Parker near the middle of the floor and not on the baseline. While adding Teletovic to Parker lineups should alleviate some of the spacing issues, Teletovic didn’t actually attempt a ton of corner threes last season. So, instead of creating much needed spacing, the floor just becomes more cramped as Teletovic and Parker both float towards the middle of the floor above the break while Antetokounmpo tries to operate in the middle of the floor. Getting Teletovic more comfortable in the corners may be even more difficult than getting Parker to move to the middle of the floor.
- I will not entertain the idea of freaking out about Giannis Antetokounmpo “struggling”.
- Dellavedova must have took Bucks Fastbreaks 101 with professor O.J. Mayo this summer because, like Mayo, he makes sure to find Antetokounmpo on every fastbreak they run together, even if it might not be the best pass.
- Also, it happened again. Parker decided to pressure to the high side of a sideline out of bounds play and the Mavericks ran a give and go because THAT IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE DECIDES TO GIVE YOU A WIDE OPEN LANE TO THE BASKET. (Make sure you have the volume up for my reaction as it was happening.)
- I remain highly skeptical of a second round pick or really any rookie playing a major role on a NBA roster in any NBA season, but Malcolm Brogdon has been very impressive thus far. He has done a nice job taking care of the ball, making the right pass, and not sticking out on defense. It will be very interesting to watch his role as the season moves forward.
- Michael Beasley is Michael Beasley.