After a pair of troubling home losses against New York and Washington, the Bucks are in desperate need of an easy win to get back on track. What luck that the San Antonio Spurs are next on the schedule!
Throughout the season, the Bucks have hovered around .500, and finally landed back at the top of the bell curve by faltering late against the Wizards. Giannis Antetokounmpo took a sick day, and his teammates pushed themselves to pick up his slack (notably Jabari Parker, who had a Giannis-like stat line of 28/8/7/2/1), but fell short in the final period. Who’s fault was it?
“It was bad coaching, it was just one of those bad nights, I messed the guys up...that’s on me.” -Jason Kidd
Many have weighed in on Kidd’s statements, and the general consensus is that he’s shielding some players from the scrutiny they might deserve...especially since the most-glaring mistakes were made during the end-of-game situation that the team had practiced the day before. Ultimately, the team’s approach to this game in San Antonio will tell whether or not Kidd’s approach had any effect.
With Giannis’ immune system and Michael Beasley’s shin putting their availability into question, the Bucks may once again be forced to compensate for missing major pieces of the rotation. Malcolm Brogdon and Greg Monroe were Jabari’s main running mates on Sunday, and will probably need a third teammate to step up and fill the void. With Rashad Vaughn (ankle) and Miles Plumlee (finger) also ailing, Coach Kidd’s options are limited.
Another year, another season where the San Antonio Spurs are a Western Conference powerhouse. Despite parting with franchise fixture Tim Duncan, the Spurs are simply taking it to their opponents: of their 30 wins, only seven games were won by 5 or fewer points. It just so happens that the Bucks put up the best fight of any San Antonio victory, where a Giannis goal tend allowed the Spurs to escape with a 97-96 victory in Milwaukee in early December.
As usual, San Antonio’s brilliance is visible on both sides of the ball; on offense, they’re powered by a team-first scheme that values efficiency over volume. Despite boasting a limbo-bar low pace rating and a bottom-tier 3PAr, Gregg Popovich’s squad has 10 players shooting 37.0% or higher than threes. On defense, the Spurs rank in the top-10 defending against all shots (total field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage). It seems that the only way to best the Spurs is to take advantage of Kawhi Leonard’s lack of a sense of humor...so of course that’s getting better too:
Hey Kawhi Leonard, should everyone RETWEET this #NBAVOTE? https://t.co/TytIcWbz5G— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 8, 2017
For Tuesday night, David Lee (knee contusion) is questionable for the game, and coming into the matchup with two days’ worth of rest, it’s unknown whether Pop will list any of his veterans as “DNP-OLD.”