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Bucks vs. Pelicans Preview: Milwaukee looks to bounce back against winless New Orleans

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After a blase performance punctuated by a depressing shellacking in overtime against the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee returns home for the start of a two-game homestand tonight against the still winless New Orleans Pelicans, who dropped a game Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings 94-102.

On today’s Locked on Bucks, we previewed the game, discussed the Bucks’ attendance thus far, and weighed in on what we heard on the Locked on NBA podcast with a NBA coach:

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Bucks Update

With three full days off since their last loss to the Mavericks 86-75, there’s been plenty of time for Milwaukee to stew rest and examine what went wrong. Jabari Parker looked smooth early on, splashing jumpers aplenty and flashing some of the star potential we all expected. That proved a flash in the pan though, as he scored just 4 points after his 12-point first quarter outburst.

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved incapable of getting into a groove after picking up early fouls which kept him on the sidelines, and the team as a whole struggled from three (going six-for-29). Part of the blame may be the fact that Sunday was the road portion of a back-to-back set, but the defeat was no less painful for that fact. The truth was, the team seemed to have the sort of buzz uncommon around Milwaukee this early in a season.

Not all is lost, however, and the Bucks will have an excellent chance once more to show what they’re capable of against the, let’s say, struggling New Orleans Pelicans.

One can’t imagine that head coach Jason Kidd will change his plan of attack much, even after Sunday’s debacle. He’s trended much more heavily towards incorporating the three ball into the offensive rhythm, giving the green light to Giannis and Jabari to have at least a willingness to shoot when open. Over the past four games, the team has averaged 30.3 three point attempts a night; in comparison, the Bucks shot a mere 15.6 of them on average last season.

That doubling of attempts from outside, even if they don’t all go in at a high rate, has forced opponents to stay home on the perimeter just on the off chance that their man rises up for the shot. The floor then subsequently opens up, and the offensive options open to Kidd and the guys on the floor expand exponentially.

And, even if Jabari and Giannis aren’t hitting right now, getting them comfortable with these types of shots will prove out to be a wonderful longer-term investment when Khris Middleton returns. If all three of the team’s pillars can spread the floor, who knows what the ceiling of the team will be?

In regards to injuries, the Bucks have no new updates outside of Khris Middleton who continues to remain out with his recovery from hamstring surgery.

Oh, and a happy 25th birthday to Tony Snell!

Pelicans Update

You knew things were tough in New Orleans the first time these two teams met. The Bucks dropped the Pelicans to an 0-4 record, and things have only gotten uglier from there as they come into their final showing on a three-game road trip toting a rough 0-8 mark.

Much as it was a little over a week ago, the offense is truly horrific and perfectly incapable of being able to simply blow teams out. A 98.4 OffRtg (the second worst in the league) pretty much says it all, and that is probably over-inflated simply by the presence of Anthony Davis as an undeniable offensive machine.

Outside of his flashy numbers, however, it is the same old same old in New Orleans: He has zero help from anyone else on the roster, and the team can only go as far as he’s able to physically drag them.

Buddy Hield, the sixth pick in this year’s draft, was touted for his pure scoring ability. In a perfect world, he would’ve stepped in and given Davis a much needed shooter to kick the ball out to on the perimeter. Unfortunately for them, head coach (for now) Alvin Gentry has seemed weary of giving Hield a lot of burn (he averages 21.3 minutes per game).

In the short amount of time he does get, Buddy has had trouble making a notable impact. His per 36 numbers seem okay at 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists, but those cover up the fact that he’s shooting an abysmal 20% from three and 33.7% in general. On top of that, his PER clocks in at an admittedly low 6.4, and his offensive rating is a measly 78. Not great. He’s still just a rookie and has a lot ahead of him, but early returns on such a high pick haven’t paid out for the Pelicans just yet.

Another piece of quick news: The Pelicans released guard Lance Stephenson earlier this week, swapping him out for recently waived Phoenix Sun Archie Goodwin.

The injury bug continues to hamper New Orleans, with Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Quincy Pondexter definitely out for a slew of reasons, and guard E’Twaun Moore still undetermined for this evening due to a toe injury.