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Milwaukee vs. Detroit: Strong Third Quarter Carries Bucks in Preseason Finale

Giannis and Co. ended the preseason strong against the Pistons

NBA: Preseason-Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason for any sport is both a blessing and a curse. It gives fans a chance to see the current version of their team for the first time in months. However, the games are also not played at full speed, making it difficult to truly evaluate player performances. Tonight the Milwaukee Bucks played their final preseason game against the Detroit Pistons and this game had more of a regular season vibe than just a quick tune-up. While Detroit had control for the majority of the first half, Milwaukee blitzed after halftime and outscored Detroit 35-20 in the third quarter, which proved to be the difference of the game.

Three Key Observations

  • During the first four minutes of the game, Milwaukee were quick and playing it’s best defense of the preseason. The starting lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Snell, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Thon Maker were everywhere on the floor. The pressure is on this team to achieve their Top-5 defense goal, but if the team plays more like what we saw at the beginning of the game, that goal is very much a possibility.
  • Not only was the defense at the beginning of the game clicking, but the offense also looked really impressive.

I’m not sure if Giannis drive and kicks was used frequently last season; but Milwaukee made sure to get him the ball and let him create the opportunity for others. The starting lineup has four capable shooter to surround Giannis with, and hopefully Kidd see this and is making it a point for Giannis to take advantage. Giannis can get to the rim at will the majority of the tim, but having a Tony Snell or a Khris Middleton ready to catch and shoot, will make life miserable for opposing defenses.

  • Giannis’ drive and kicks weren’t the only source of the Bucks’ three pointers. In the second quarter, Rashad Vaughn and Mirza Teletovic both drove and kicked to help each other get catch and shoot opportunities. Milwaukee overall shot 16-33 from deep, which was their best shooting of the preseason. Milwaukee seemed willing to let loose whenever the chance came, and for players like Teletovic and Snell, Milwaukee will need that (especially if those shots go in). It’s been frequently mentioned that Milwaukee needs to shoot more threes, and performances like tonight indicate why.

Random Bucks Bits

  • Milwaukee did struggle on the boards tonight, getting outrebounded 50-41. Thon and Henson were struggling with the large bodies of Andre Drummond and Boban Marjanovic. Drummond alone had nine offensive rebounds and while Marjanovic only had three, he wasn’t making it easy for Henson or Thon to grab rebounds.
  • Milwaukee’s passing looked really good tonight; the ball was moving quickly, which led to several good looks, whether it was a matchup advantage in the post or an open look for three. Milwaukee’s offense looked much more fluid and showed signs that Milwaukee’s Top-5 ranking in Assist % and Assist/Turnover Ratio will continue from last season.
  • At the current moment, it’s safe to say Sterling Brown looks much more capable of handling rotational minutes than Vaughn. Brown seems to have bounced back after a poor shooting performance in the first preseason game against Dallas. Vaughn did show glimpse of what he could do knocking down some catch and shoot threes and providing a drive and kick for Mirza; but Vaughn will need to do this more consistently to justify being on the court when the games matter.
  • Reggie Jackson dribbles a lot. This is the exact type of point guard Milwaukee’s defense works best against, and it showed. Jackson shot 4-12 and only had three assists, and never really look to be in control besides the short run in the fourth quarter against Milwaukee’s bench. He doesn’t really blow by you either like a Russell Westbrook, force you to stay close to him like Stephen Curry, or have the playmaking of Chris Paul.
  • Avery Bradley quietly got himself 26 points on 11-17 shooting. He isn’t going to be a player will require your attention, but he is a player that would be a valuable asset on any team. His defense is well-known but he also has developed into a capable shooter. He is going to be a restricted free agent after this season, and it will be interesting to see what type of contract he might earn.
  • While Giannis gyro-steps and dunks are great, I think the true treasures are Giannis chasedown blocks.

(in DJ Kahled’s voice) Another one!

With that, it’s the end of preseason and the regular season tips off soon. We are four days away(!) from the season opener against the Boston Celtics, while the home opener is six days out against the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m excited for these games to come and to see what the upcoming season will bring.