Who could’ve predicted just three short years ago that in 2020, the year of our Lord Giannis Antetokounmpo, it would be the Golden State Warriors that ESPN regrets locking into a broadcast slot and not the Milwaukee Bucks. Well, we’re now faced with that unbelievable reality in this contest as Bud’s squad kicks off a Western Coast road trip.
Bud humbug! Such was the case for Milwaukee’s chief strategist after the Spurs game, who quite openly blamed the worst loss of his Bucks tenure on his own coaching:
Coach Mike Budenholzer takes blame for Spurs loss: “I probably could’ve done a better job of coaching. Maybe adjusted earlier, quicker so I think I need to be better.”— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) January 7, 2020
While that’s probably not an entirely fair assessment, Bud was content to run with what’s worked (and worked in spectacular fashion!) to this point until the Spurs slick-shooting ways buried them. He opted for some switching to start, then reverted back to the traditional zone-drop before downsizing in the fourth. No matter what card he played, Pop was besting him in the 126-104 loss. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s stat line looked typically Superstar-sized (24 points, eight assists and 12 boards), but San Antonio bothered him just enough inside and his 3-point jumper wasn’t falling. Coupled with an off night for K-Midd and a sleepy performance by Eric Bledsoe, and the Bucks faced a loss to start their road trip.
The latest injury report lists George Hill as out for this game - a big loss for Milwaukee given his incredible season - and Giannis as probable.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Clearly still working his way back from injury, Bledsoe is trying to find his rhythm back within this Bucks offense after some strong initial outings in limited minutes. Bud is walking him towards his regular minutes load, and the Warriors weakened frontcourt can serve as a prime chance for Bledsoe to re-ignite his finishing inside.
It’s been a tough go of it for this once towering dynasty, hampered by injuries to Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and nagging ones with Draymond Green (who appears good to go for this one). After rattling off four games in a row over the holidays, they’ve dropped five straight and sit last in the Western Conference. Their most recent loss came at the hands of their northern CA colleagues, the Sacramento Kings, 111-98. Steve Kerr’s club ranks dead last in offense per Cleaning The Glass, and 26th in defense.
They don’t have much to hang their hat on, but they do trend towards the same midrange heavy game as the Spurs, ranking second in terms of midrange shot frequency. But DeMar DeRozan Eric Paschall is not, and the Warriors are nowhere near the elite shooting team the Spurs are, ranking in the bottom half in terms of midrange accuracy. The one interesting point may be watching whether Bud adjusts should the Warriors unexpectedly start getting hot from midrange and three, and another Spurs loss slowly unfolds before his eyes. But, this should be a game Milwaukee expects to win, and they should do so handily.
Besides their two big stars, they’ll be without Kevon Looney and D’Angelo Russell.
Player to Watch: Draymond Green
With Milwaukee’s dominance this season, there haven’t been too many individuals who have slowed down Giannis. More often it’s a team effort. I’m quite intrigued to see how Green likely fares against Giannis, and if Kerr employs the same sort of pestering help defense Nick Nurse used in the Playoffs with complementary players poking at the Greek Freak while Green tackles him one-on-one.
Game 39: Against Golden State, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)