In what turned into a rout almost immediately following half, the Milwaukee Bucks put an absolute smackdown on the Utah Jazz with a 133-99 victory. The main takeaway was Eric Bledsoe leaving the game with a strained oblique, but early indications are that may not be too severe.
Bud indicated that Eric Bledsoe’s oblique strain may not be that severe. He talked to Bled and got a positive report, but says he will trust the medical team to give the most accurate assessment.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) October 10, 2019
As for the game, following the first period, Giannis Antetokounmpo came out ready to rip down the rims with the Bucks starters propelling the team to a 34-23 lead. The 3-pointers went Hilary Duff on the Jazz in the second and rained down en route to an impressive 64-46 advantage. The third is when this innocent preseason game devolved into a massacre, finishing with a 101-68 score heading into the fourth and even Milwaukee’s scrubs maintained the decisive lead till the final buzzer.
Three Main Observations
Kyle Korver is here to chew bubble gum and hit threes...and he’s all out of bubble gum
We spent all offseason talking about the beauty that awaited us with Korver’s quick triger coupled with Giannis’ ability to draw and kick to shooters. We were treated to a cornucopia of just that scenario tonight, as Korver nailed three triples in the second quarter alone, two off dishes from Giannis and another with an insanely fast shot from the corner. I’m not going to make any premature judgments about his defensive ability from preseason games, but it’s quite clear his offensive impact will align with all our summer day dreams. A tidy 3-3 from deep in 10 minutes will do just fine.
Giannis is here to chew bubble gum and make dunkshots...and he’s all out of bubble gum
Giannis’ night came to a close after an overzealous windmill slam he landed awkwardly on, but the Utah Jazz had nobody capable of offering resistance to the reigning MVP. While his jump shot was noticeably errant all evening, including missing short and an airball on three attempts from deep, he returned to his bread and butter with slams down in the paint. Given how last season ended, we all know it would be nice to see his pull-up game suddenly appear fully formed, but sounds like it’s still in the metamorphosis phase. He looked in sync with the shooters surrounding him and made his usual array of passes to the new arrivals, even if he’s still working on perfect pocket passes to guys like Korver. The one blemish, I wish he could’ve hit a smidge better than 6-10 from the free throw line. He ended with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
This team is here to chew bubble gum and run teams off the floor...and they’re all out of bubble gum
Another key talking point this entire offseason was this team’s depth, which is doing it plenty of favors this preseason. Yes, the Utah Jazz played some of their starters tonight as did the Bucks, but the drop-off in talent in the bottom half of the roster at this time of the year for other teams versus Milwaukee seems incredibly stark. I would expect them to keep rolling over teams in the preseason, a trait that will hopefully roll into the regular season given how dominating the upper crust of their roster looked too. Giannis was decimating fools, Brook Lopez looked as offensively dominant as he did all last year, Khris Middleton had his midrange game cooking, it was firing on all cylinders for this team. When everything clicks, and the threes are falling (41.7% on 36 attempts for the evening), this team is going to coast to victories aplenty against the league’s bottom-feeders.
Bonus Bucks Bits
This happened in less than a minute. Be afraid NBA. Be very afraid.
Bud’s first substitution started with removing Wesley Matthews and GIannis Antetokounmpo for George Hill and Robin Lopez, pairing the twins together in a two-big lineup.
Bledsoe started his night with a strong finish at the hoop, and nailed a pull-up triple later in the first. Cue collective groan from Bucks fans wishing a shot like that would’ve fallen back in May.
It’s early, but Bud was already feeling himself trying out a Hill-Korver-Connaughton-LoBro lineup. It got toasted by the Jazz who still had a few starters out there, and it looked like a lineup caught in cement compared to Utah. Guess what, Giannis returned soon after.
I can confidently say we will never see the Hill/Connaughton/Korver/Lopez/Lopez lineup again.— Riley Feldmann (@RileyFeldmann) October 10, 2019
Here’s part of why Robin was brought in, to serve as a facsimile of Brook on defense:
Giannis was freaking diving on the floor for loose balls...in a PRESEASON GAME. Oh ya, then he turned Ed Davis into a statue and tore him down all in one fell swoop on his way to the bucket.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, as many people thought in the offseason, really looked like a lost soul offensively in the first half. He frantically helped defensively, giving up a triple to Jeff Green at one point on an over help, and didn’t seem like he had a thorough understand of the floor during their offensive sets. He was bumping into other people’s space, and had trouble handling balls off the bounce cutting to the basket. I do not want to bury the man though, he was able to make some competent plays in the second half, kicking to Robin in the corner off a drive for a triple and slamming home a couple slick dishes late. Credit to him for shaking off a rough first half to make some productive plays.
Here’s some advice from the essential Jeff Stotts on Bledsoe’s injury.
The severity of his strain will ultimately determine Eric Bledsoe’s return to play timeline but, according to the https://t.co/rmihsETj7g database, the average missed time for an oblique strain in the NBA is 3 games.— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) October 10, 2019
A sequence Bucks fans would be happy to see repeatedly, Giannis driving briefly into the paint and kicking it immediately out to Korver for a quick-trigger triple. His willingness to shoot with a hand in his face really is a marked difference from Brogdon. Here’s the play in full:
Here was another favorite sequence of mine in the second. Giannis gets the ball on the left elbow, Hill comes flying by him on the left and they fake a handoff, only for Hill to immediately reverse his direction and set a pick/rub for Giannis to slingshot himself around towards the basket. Nifty.
For the Donte Does Stuff crowd, there was stuff for y’all, from a few smooth-looking pull-up triples, aggressiveness driving to the tin and an in-rhythm scoop pass to Giannis in transition that led to his fateful windmill slam.
If Bledsoe is out for any extended period of time, Frank Mason showed some competent work driving to the rack and working the pick-and-roll with Bender late. Granted, it was garbage time, but Milwaukee signed him to a two-way ostensibly as their third point guard on the roster. We’ll see if they’ll have to burn through those 45 days in a hurry or not.