With their early season west coast road trip fully in the rear view mirror, Milwaukee is back in the Cream City for a six-game homestand. They get things going tonight with a tilt against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Milwaukee’s two wins over Denver and Golden State overshadowed what were tough losses in both Portland and against the Clippers. It appears the Bucks may have even helped discombobulate Golden State’s chemistry to the point of a Draymond Green meltdown and shouting match. Regardless of if Giannis pummeling the presumed champions into pulp had much to do with that, the Bucks have to be feeling good after going toe-to-toe with the leagues upper echelon and scraping out a few victories. Their game tonight against a scrappy Memphis team will be a fine test to see if they can keep that same sort of ferocity going after a few days off. Thus far, they’ve had little troubling dusting average opponents off early.
Also, please listen to today’s Locked on Bucks not only for the 20 minute Disney diversion, but for the brief Grizzlies preview around the 25 minute mark that is entertaining, brief and informative.
Player to Watch: Pat Connaughton
Or, as I just learned he’s also called, “Patty Fastball” has leaped up Bud’s rotation of late. Usurping what used to be Donte DiVincenzo’s first spot off the bench, Connaughton has been a bright spark with his athleticism and adequate shooting from deep, 36.7% on three attempts per game. He’s looked like a sublime fit within Bud’s scheme, and been a boon to their wing depth. With Memphis still relatively barren at their wing position, Connaughton should be able to pick his spots around the arc.
They’ve been more feisty than I figured this year. Still led by Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol, they even managed two narrow wins over the Sixers and Nuggets before falling to the Utah Jazz in their last contest. Unsurprisingly, Memphis continues their pledge to trudge through the league at the slowest pace, by a healthy margin this year too. Their defense has been stout though, ranked fourth in the league, per Basketball Reference. They’re ranked 25th in 3-pointers per game as well. Marc Gasol should be an interesting foil to Brook Lopez all night.
Unlike the Bucks, Memphis is ravaged by injuries, missing JaMychal Green, Dillon Brooks and Chandler Parsons tonight. Ivan Rabb and Omri Casspi are also missing.
Player to Watch: Jaren Jackson Jr.
He reminds me of a souped up Chris Bosh, molded in the time of stretch fives into what should be an ideal fit for these switchable defenses that are all the rage. His length led to some spectacular block numbers at Michigan State, and he’s already averaging 1.8 per game in the pros. His raw counting stats remain a little underwhelming, as well as his just 18.5% from deep, but I fully expect him to give Giannis an interesting test on the defensive end. His offensive game will just take a smidge longer to blossom.
Game 14: Against the Grizzlies, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or less points)
Lose close (by 9 or less points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)