It might not be a new occurrence, but it’s still a special one, where the Milwaukee Bucks get a venerated Christmas Day game, this year at home against the Golden State Warriors. It’s a shame that fans can’t be in attendance, but there’s always next year!
Where We’re At
Milwaukee just lost a heartbreaker in their season opener in Boston, losing a lead on a one-in-a-thousand banked three from Jayson Tatum and failing to force overtime on a split pair of free throws from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Still, there was plenty of cause for optimism from Wednesday, particularly with the debut of Jrue Holiday, who put up 26 points on 16 shots. He perfectly complemented the Bucks’ established core of Khris Middleton (27 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists) and Giannis (35 points and 13 boards), and showed signs of Milwaukee boasting a true Big Three this year.
That said, the main theme for the regular season is going to be “sure, but what about for the playoffs?” Fans have a sharp eye for what adjustments head coach Mike Budenholzer is willing to make, and at least against Boston there was evidence to that point. From Eric Nehm:
Budenholzer has been reticent to have his players switch defensively since taking over in Milwaukee in 2018, but that is exactly what they did on the final possession to force Tatum into a tough shot. In fact, the Bucks switched throughout the fourth quarter and their new starting point guard claims it was the reason why they were able to get back into the game.
“Switching, trying to get them off the 3-point line,” Holiday said. “Try to get them to take tough 2s. And even though they were knocking down some tough 2s at first, I feel like we stayed consistent with that and tried to contest and make them even tougher.”
Milwaukee is again expecting to not have DJ Augustin (calf) available, thinning out the Bucks’ backcourt.
For Golden State...how far the mighty have fallen.
got them right where we want em pic.twitter.com/3MXkzvAv8x— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) December 23, 2020
Bad nights happen. But even if you adjust for the amount of open shots the Warriors missed and contested shots the Nets made, it wasn’t a close game. This was a good old fashioned ass kicking, and it served as a reminder that Kerr has been mentioning the future for a good reason.
He knows they’ll be good then. He’s less certain about now.
The Warriors are a work in progress. They’re emphatically a work in progress.
Klay Thompson will miss the season with his Achilles injury, and Draymond Green was already ruled out for against Milwaukee. Still, the Warriors have Steph Curry, rookie big man James Wiseman, and newcomer Kelly Oubre, so there’s plenty of reason to tune in, if only to see Oubre do this:
KELLY OUBRE WTF pic.twitter.com/rXkE5IbjsY— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) December 23, 2020
Player To Watch: Donte DiVincenzo
The Big Ragu made a big difference in the first half of the Boston game, scoring 13 points including a trio of three-pointers. He was also his normal ball-hawking self on defense, firmly demonstrating why he’s the Bucks’ best option for the second starting guard spot. Donte’s biggest opportunity is to establish consistency, though, so it’s worth watching how he follows up his positive first outing of the season...which just to happens to be on the huge Christmas stage.
Game 2: Against Golden State, the Bucks 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)