That chill creeping into the air can only mean one thing: basketball is back. More specifically, Bucks basketball is back. Tonight, the preseason kicks off with your Bucks traveling to Dallas in order to take on Rick Carlisle’s Mavericks. A condensed preseason means there’s less time to wait until “real” basketball comes back, but we’re also getting peppered this week with three Bucks games to whet our appetites until Giannis and co. get their extended time under the lights.
Well, by now I think we’re all familiar with Milwaukee’s summer. Their dearth of significant additions means the team we’ll see come October 18th is largely the same team as last year, but this preseason should be flush with plenty of faces that aren’t long for the Bradley Center floor. The rotating carousel for the 15th spot on the roster should mean we’ll see some of Brandon Rush, Gerald Green, James Young and the rest of that roster flotsam tonight. As for how much the starters play, I doubt anyone gets significant run outside of maybe Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker due to their youth. Either way, it’s good to have basketball back in our lives.
Player to Watch: D.J. Wilson
Wilson should get ample opportunity to stretch those short-shorted legs tonight. I’m curious to see how he responds to the speed of a faux-NBA game, as he looked a little hurried even in Summer League. If the extended time with the team emboldened him to eschew pull-up jumpers in favor of launching threes, I’d enjoy seeing that added to his repertoire for this upcoming season.
The Dallas Mavericks, for the foreseeable future, will remain as Dirk Nowitzki’s team. While the elder statesman probably won’t play tonight given his age, he remains a focal point of Rick Carlisle’s flowing offensive attack. However, as the freakishly tall sharpshooter ages, there’s now hope that Dallas will become another player’s team: Dennis Smith Jr.. Smith Jr. had a stellar Summer League averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists while flashing the sort of athleticism that made him a consensus top-5 pick before tearing his ACL in high school. Even the NBA’s rookies think he’ll beat them all for Rookie of the Year honors. As the transition continues between Dirk’s aged legs and the bouncy ones on Smith Jr., it’ll be fascinating to see how much Carlisle empowers his rookie point guard. Among other key storylines are the demotion of Nerlens Noel to a bench role. Noel reportedly declined a 4-year, $70 million dollar contract and wound up instead just taking the $4.1M qualifying offer from the Mavs. Noel betting on himself is a similar move to what Greg Monroe did to the Pistons several years ago that ended with him landing in Milwaukee. With the cap squeezing ever tighter, Noel’s gamble is a risky (and foolhardy in my opinion) one.
Player to Watch: Dennis Smith Jr.
There’s nothing quite like the preseason to throw out all the rookies you’d like to see. The free-for-all gives them ample chance to run amok, and I expect Smith Jr. to do just that in the helter-skelter moments that are bound to break out in Preseason. How Milwaukee’s guards are able to contain him from penetrating will be what I’m keeping an eye on tonight.
All the game information is below, and please note the “Probable” portion of the list of game starters.