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Milwaukee vs. Dallas: Rashad Vaughn Steals the Second Half Spotlight

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Let’s round up what to take away from our first glimpse at Bucks basketball in months

NBA: Preseason-Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We narrowly avoided a terrible fate tonight folks, with Rashad Vaughn’s missed jumper helping spare us from preseason OT basketball, as the Milwaukee Bucks fell 106-104 against the Dallas Mavericks. Milwaukee’s scrubs acquitted themselves well against Dallas’s B-squad in the second half and the first half came to a relative standstill with Milwaukee down just three. A teeter-totter second half featured huge scoring droughts and runs by each team heading down the stretch. Somehow Dallas eked this one out late after Jonathan Motley got an easy game-winning bucket beneath the rim to knock out the game-tying contested jumper Vaughn nailed on the prior position.

Three Main Observations

  • Khris Middleton looked zippier tonight, freely flowing and dribbling from side to side throughout the game. Sometimes he settled for an isolation jumper, other times he penetrated deep into the paint and went up for a reverse layup, but he always maintained the same smooth game he’s always had. It was extra smooth tonight since it was mostly bereft of the stalling post-ups he’s prone to in the midrange. He was able to get up four threes against the Mavs tonight in the first half alone, a number I’d be quite pleased with if he maintained that pace throughout the season.
  • Preseason basketball doesn’t tell you much, so here’s an obvious one, exciting basketball in Milwaukee is really dependent on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Without his electrifying athleticism and general propensity for outrageous plays, Milwaukee’s offense looked decidedly bland. Surprisingly, their execution didn’t falter too much with Khris Middleton playing a more central role. However, there wasn’t a whole lot of “wow” plays that can make a preseason game palatable. Not to mention the lack of Thon Maker, a subtraction that was disappointing given the fact Dallas is devoid of burly centers who could’ve exploited him inside. However, health is obviously paramount in the preseason.
  • Rashad Vaughn loves the slop, and nothing gets his trigger finger whirling quite like joining a group of scrubs on the court. He had carte blanche to pull away tonight and took every opportunity to do so, hurling 18 shots tonight and connecting on 8 of them for 20 points. Obviously that’s not ideal, but there’s not a whole lot one could take away from the second half given Vaughn’s entire shot selection engulfed Milwaukee’s scrubby second half offense. I’m as dubious as anyone, but at least he hit a few threes and did this rather unbelievable thing below. Preseason basketball is Rashad’s heaven.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • The most important point of tonight came before tipoff, when we discovered that there’s no timetable for Giannis’ return to the Milwaukee Bucks. Jason Kidd remarked that Giannis will decide when he returns, and I think I speak for every Bucks fan when I say we are keeping him in our thoughts following the passing of his father last weekend.
  • Sterling Brown and D.J. Wilson were in the starting lineup tonight along with Brogdon, Henson and Middleton.
  • D.J. Wilson bit bad on a Harrison Barnes pump fake to start his defensive time as a Buck. How he did against an isolation scorer like Barnes seemed like an interesting test, and there’s nothing like a wily pump fake to make a rookie look silly. Later he got beat by Wesley Matthews at the rim and then blown by on the perimeter as Matthews came off a screen. Wilson was able to stick with Matthews to the rim but wasn’t able to use his athleticism to get the block. How well he can stick with wings will go a long way towards determining his ability to stay on the court this year.
  • His fellow rookie, Sterling Brown, soon fouled Seth Curry on the perimeter on a three, which he splashed in, and got called for a carrying call after stealing the ball in the paint. An auspicious defensive start for the two young’uns, but ones we expected. Brown’s rough night extended to the offensive end too, where he went 0-10 from the field with some ugly looking bricks.
  • John Henson jumper watch is on again this year, as he gladly shot one from the top of the key when given ample space. It bricked, of course. I’ll give him some credit though for efficiently finishing lobs and making a really smooth pivot pass in the lane where he swung the ball to Brogdon in the left corner.
  • Tony Snell is already stroking his signature handoff on the wing. Early in the game he snagged a quick ball from Dellavedova who screened and slung it to Snell sprinting up from the left corner for a swish.
  • Gerald Green had a good isolation jumper and penetrated into the lane before kicking to Khris Middleton in the corner. He seemed to have more success than any of the leftovers Milwaukee brought in for the 15th slot, so I’ll give him the early pole position.
  • Milwaukee gave up a smattering of alley-oops in the first half, and could’ve given up more if it weren’t for some errant passes from Devin Harris to Nerlens Noel. Particularly when the ground-bound Greg Monroe was entered, Dallas was able to easily draw him with penetration and dish to Powell and Noel.
  • The Dallas Mavericks ran a bit on their video board called Dragon BBall Z where they turned Wesley Matthews into a super saiyan complete with crazy graphics and a Goku hairdo prop for him to wear. It was incredible.
  • Jason Terry apparently enjoyed tonight’s game:
  • Rashad Vaughn didn’t check into the game until the second half when Milwaukee went to the entirely scrubs unit. He somehow finished a lob-layup from Sterling Brown in traffic within transition, which makes no sense and encapsulates preseason basketball perfectly. He even had a tough finish at the rim to close the third, where he posted 11 points in the quarter.
  • There was a brief stint in the third quarter after Dallas grabbed the ball in a scrum and started to advance it where Kendall Marshall put his hands out trying to get the Mavs player to accidentally pass it to him. That’s savvy stuff.
  • Gary Payton II weirdly worked as an off-ball guard late in the fourth quarter with Kendall Marshall manning the point (10 assists by the way) and hit two free throw line jumpers. His lack of playmaking skill compared to Marshall was quite apparent though, with Marshall finding far more acute passing angles and deftly diming around defenders.