The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t travel far for tonight’s game, but they certainly didn’t look ready as the Chicago Bulls slaughtered them 114-101. An uneventful first half was saved by the highlights from Giannis’ return, a return so welcome it actually made tonight watchable. He was stroking it from all over the court, but unfortunately the Bulls were hitting nearly everything from beyond the arc. While Milwaukee’s actual rotation players got a good amount of run tonight, they ceded the floor to the scrubs for the fourth quarter as Chicago’s hot shooting never ceased.
Three Main Observations
- Giannis was finally back folks! The Bucks Star played in his first game since his father passed. He played the first four and a half minutes or so before leaving for D.J. Wilson but ended with 23 minutes total. Man, it sure was nice to have Giannis back again and twirling those limbs around the hapless Bulls defenders. Not to mention hitting a pull-up 3 as the first quarter expired to give him 14 of their first 27 points. He alone made tonight an immensely more enjoyable game experience from the threes to the pull-up jumpers to his double-clutch dunk as he finished with 24 points.
- Milwaukee’s defense will be one of the biggest subplots of the season and tonight was not a good omen. Chicago was more than willing to sling it from beyond the arc, and while they took some tough contested shots, they had plenty that were wide open looks from easy ball movement. The mishmash of preseason players means Milwaukee’s defense was far from a finished product tonight, but the same nagging issues creeping up year after year is troubling. Chicago ended the night 17-34 from deep. Basically:
Half of the Bulls’ shots have been threes tonight, and they’ve made half of those. Not exactly an encouraging sign for the Bucks’ D.— FrankMadden (@fmaddenNBA) October 7, 2017
- Jason Kidd ran the real rotation for a lot longer stretch tonight than we’ve seen to this point. That didn’t necessarily translate to success, even against the bad, bad bulls. One would’ve hoped we’d see a bit more impressive performance, particularly defensively with Henson, Giannis, Middleton, Brogdon and Snell out there. However, as illustrated above, Chicago just wasn’t missing tonight and Milwaukee’s defense didn’t impede them from those clean looks in any way.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Giannis’ outrageous euro-step around Robin Lopez was a sight for very sore preseason basketball eyes in the first quarter. Were it not for Giannis’ spectacular return, Milwaukee’s first period would’ve been entirely forgettable. Chicago seemed to find good looks from the outside far too easily and they ended with 11 attempts after just 12 minutes.
- Malcolm Brogdon had several nifty drives and finishes against Chicago, including a few bunnies I wish he’d hit or drawn a call on, but he flashed a sweet give-and-go with John Henson at the high elbow where Henson rifled a sweet pass to a cutting Brogdon. I never thought I’d say this, but Henson’s had two preseason passes that have been more impressive than anything I’ve seen from him the last few years. Low bar, but I’ll take it.
- Jason Terry got his first run in the Bucks preseason tonight. Kidd said that would be the case, but it was still good to see the long-socked, headbanded vet out there doing his thing. And of course he got right to it, flipping a soft bounce pass to a cutting Monroe at the free throw line who found Snell in the corner for an open three that clanked out.
- When Giannis was facing up against Denzel Valentine on the elbow in the second quarter, you could see the fear in Jerian Grant’s eyes as he tried inching closer and closer to try and save his teammate from embarrassment. Instead, it allowed Malcolm Brogdon to have an entirely wide-open three. That’s star-level gravity right there.
The Greek Freak puts the NBA on notice!! pic.twitter.com/QmLfPnyE68— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 7, 2017
- Milwaukee’s defense left plenty to be desired in the first half, continuing to give up good looks for Chicago as they hit 13-22 (61.9%) from beyond the arc. Hoiberg obviously wants to integrate the 3 more given his gutted team finally has shooters to use, but that doesn’t bode well for Milwaukee’s defense this year.
- Jerian Grant was so outrageously petrified of shooting a three in the third he tossed to Justin Holiday in the corner and after getting the ball back and having at least 10 feet of space still took his time getting it off. Spacing!
- Kendall Marshall got some extended run with Giannis in tonight’s game, and while he hit a three, he missed him on a clean cut to the rim. Marshall looked overmatched by Kris Dunn and couldn’t quite shake him either.
- Sterling Brown got first quarter minutes after not playing last game, but didn’t get back in the game until the start of the fourth quarter. Rashad Vaughn didn’t make an appearance until the fourth quarter either. Sterling Brown showed a ludicrous burst and power on an and-one dunk that I didn’t know he possessed though. He even finally a three tonight too in the waning minutes.
- My favorite possession of preseason yet came in the fourth quarter when Joel Anthony was posting up Bobby Portis with the shot clock winding down and he launched up a lefty hook that airballed completely.
- Ex-Buck Bronson Koenig got a chance for his sweet, sweet revenge in the final minute.