After splitting a difficult weekend against the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, the Bucks get a brief reprieve from teams that currently care about winning games with the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight.
The galvanizing effect of a victory with the magnitude of the Raptors win is significant. Not only did the Bucks win with so-so shooting nights from Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, their defense remained stingy against the free-flowing formations spawned from Nick Nurse’s head. I was fearful the 3-point hunting could be crippling, but Milwaukee held stout. It helps when Kyle Lowry remains frigid as a freezer from deep against you, but that stuff might even out later. Now, the Bucks get a chance to hopefully bank some more wins against weaker division foes like Cleveland and Detroit next week.
Pat Connaughton was also listed as probable with a minor left MCL sprain for Toronto, so that may’ve had something to do with his smaller minute load.
Player to Watch: George Hill
With the caveat that I’m still not totally sure if he’ll be able to play, this seems like a prime chance to get the former Cavalier guard’s feet wet in a Bucks uniform. We’ll see how much Bud wants so stick Hill into what’s an increasingly democratic wing rotation, but it’s always fun to see how a newly acquired player fits into the fold.
I’m fairly certain the proverbial white flags teams wave to signal their surrendering of the season is currently emblazoned with a Cleveland Cavaliers logo. The team, who entered the season supposedly looking to re-tool for playoff contention, is a tire fire of impressive proportions at the moment. They’ve already pawned off Kyle Korver and George Hill for parts, and apparently J.R. Smith is on the block next. On the court, it’s not pretty. Imagine the husks that LeBron James dragged to the Finals last few years, then remove LeBron James from the equation. That is dismal stuff. They’re 28th in terms of frequency of 3-pointers, while 2nd in terms of the midrange. Is that Coach Budenholzer’s defensive music, I hear?! Amidst all this, they did still manage to take down the woeful Wizards their last time out, thanks to 29 points from Collin Sexton. The main matchup I’m looking for is to see how much Tristan Thompson can test Milwaukee’s rebounding prowess. In other strategical differences, the Cavs play at the league’s second-slowest pace and sport the league’s worst defense. Milwaukee should be able to run on these guys and can’t fall into any traps of playing at their snail’s pace. The Cavaliers are without Kevin Love, David Nwaba, J.R. Smith and likely Rodney Hood.
Also, let us weep at the sight of John Henson giving away the Bucks strategy of having three far superior players to anyone the Cavaliers have.
Player to Watch: Collin Sexton
The former Alabama guard acquitted himself well in the draft process after some early draftniks having him slipping to the middle of the first round. He’s averaging 15.8 points per game thus far, but most of his work is done within the arc. He’s only at 1.8 3-point attempts per game. He takes the highest percentage of his shots (37%) from 16 feet to the 3-point arc, aka, the Bucks’ zone they’re happy to allow shots from. He’s shooting 42.7% from there so far. We’ll see how the chess match plays out, but I expect Eric Bledsoe to make his night a bit nightmarish.
Game 26: Against the Cavaliers, The Bucks will...
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