"To have him commit to being here and commit to building and winning with us, it’s incredible.” pic.twitter.com/KBKxwdtJKs— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 17, 2020
And it’s a good thing too, because through two preseason contests the Bucks have had a rough go of it. Dallas presents a uniquely disadvantageous matchup for Milwaukee, but even by their high offensive standards there were some ugly stretches for the Bucks’ defense. Against New Orleans, there’s far less shooting to worry about, though J.J. Redick always seems to give the Bucks fits anyhow. Milwaukee will use tonight’s game to get new additions like Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis acclimated to their new roles, and it’s likely that we see that continue for the first few weeks of the season.
For the first time this season, the Bucks have somebody on an official NBA injury report.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 18, 2020
Point guard D.J. Augustin is out with a left calf strain for the Bucks' final preseason game against the Pelicans tonight in New Orleans.
UPDATE: Milwaukee will be without reserve guard D.J. Augustin tonight, as he’s dealing with a calf issue. Augustin in particular will be important to upgrading the bench unit’s offense this season, so missing time early is highly unfortunate and puts a bigger burden on the team’s backcourt players who aren’t exactly “pure point guards.” Point Pat, anyone?
Player to watch: Donte DiVincenzo
Milwaukee’s second “new” starter is approaching a bit of a crossroads this season. On the one hand, he exhibits an uncanny knack for defensive positioning and timing, and his offensive profile seems to be a smooth fit for what the Bucks need from a guard. On the other hand, his overall performance is decidedly ‘average’ and his shooting isn’t enough to garner significant respect from opposing teams. If he can put it all together this year, the Bucks’ ceiling gets a little bit higher...and some outlets like FiveThirtyEight are quite high on the Big Ragu.
There’s a lot of excitement in New Orleans, and for good reason. With Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes, Lonzo Ball, and Kira Lewis Jr, there’s a lot of young talent with tons of upside yet to claim, and heady veterans like Redick and Steven Adams will help balance the youth on the squad. At the helm is Stan Van Gundy, a beloved analyst and wall-builder who’s making his return to coaching with the Big Easy. New Orleans was kind enough to provide the Bucks with Jrue Holiday (and Sam Merrill!) in return for a crap-ton of draft picks, which can be added to the crap-ton of draft picks the Pelicans grabbed for sending Anthony Davis to L.A. when he wanted to go there. New Orleans even won their first preseason contest against Miami, so there’s even some short-term excitement to be had.
Player to watch: Eric Bledsoe
We all hope that they’re taking care of our guy now that he’s a Pelican, and if you heard him speak during New Orleans’ media availability, you’ll know that he very much is our guy.
"Not just players, but my brothers off the court. Even though I’m in a different uniform I’ll still give them the shirt off my back. That’s the bond, friendship we built while I was there.” - @EBled2 on his time in Milwaukee— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 17, 2020
Bledsoe gave the Bucks a major upgrade when he was acquired from the Phoenix Suns back during the Jason Kidd era. His knifing drives to the rim and hard-nosed perimeter defense was an excellent fit for what the Bucks became, and it just...didn’t work out. The postseason was Bledsoe’s kryptonite in Milwaukee, and sending him out was a necessary sacrifice for Holiday, one of the few guards who was both available and an overall upgrade from Bledsoe in the backcourt. We wish him well, and a happy belated birthday...but nothing will top his last birthday in Milwaukee.
Preseason Game 3: Against the Pelicans, Milwaukee will...
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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)