Has it really been a week? It feels like it’s been an eternity since we had some good, old-fashioned regular season NBA basketball, even with the All Star Break having just concluded. But, like Stella, we can reclaim our groove tonight, as the Milwaukee Bucks visit the
Milwaukee Bucks Lite Detroit Pistons.
The message from both Mike Budenholzer and the team’s social media outfit is the same: Milwaukee will continue to take things one game at a time, and simply focus on getting better. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that there’s much better to get, as the Bucks lead the league in most measurements of performance. Having Giannis Antetokounmpo (despite all the chatter) on your team, flanked by a tailor-made supporting cast, tends to do that.
The injury report is clear as of Wednesday evening, including the anticipated return of George Hill, who had been nursing a hamstring injury prior to the break. Expect to see a return to the normal Bucks’ rotation, though Marvin Williams still needs to be worked into a role before the postseason.
Player to Watch: Brook Lopez
Of all the Bucks this season, Lopez has perhaps had the most “disappointing” campaign thus far. No, not because his rim protection and overall defensive impact has improved and is DPOY-worthy, but because his outside shooting has been worse than last season (29.8% this year, compared to 36.5% last year and 33.9% on his career). As a result, his overall scoring per 36 minutes is at a career low, which has caused some complaints. Sure, he has an excellent defensive rating (6th among all players averaging 24 minutes or more) that shows the value of his impact, but those deep threes aren’t falling! What do we do?!
Anyway, maybe Brook thaws out and ticks his shooting accuracy up a notch or two. That’d be neat.
So, uh, a lot has happened in the Motor City since we saw them last.
Blake Griffin was shelved in early January. Andre Drummond got traded (to Cleveland! For John Henson and Brandon Knight!). Reggie Jackson was bought out and is bound for the Los Angeles Clippers. They’ve won two of their last 12 and are six games out of the 8 seed (currently occupied by Orlando).
Player to Watch: Christian Wood
Hello, old friend. He might be the president of his own fan club, but Christian Wood has made the most of his chance to be a featured player in Detroit.
“When he’s consistent, he’s a talent,” head coach Dwane Casey said about Wood.
And that’s been a consistent theme throughout the season. Casey has been tough on Wood all year, often calling him out in postgame pressers for his lack of attention to detail on defense. Along with that, Casey pointed to maturity issues as to why Wood had bounced around the league before landing in Detroit.
Being in the locker room all year, it’s noticeable how much Wood has grown, maturity-wise, and has locked into this opportunity in the Motor City.
Wood, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, has excelled in his five games as a starter. As a 20-point, 10-board, 40%+ three point shooter, his offensive versatility will be called upon to mount any sort of threat to the Bucks’ league-leading defense, and remaining residents of the Christian Woodlands will enjoy the ride.
Game 55: Against Detroit, the Bucks will...
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