Finally, after months since Rudy Gobert’s COVID-19 diagnosis set NBA basketball on pause, the Milwaukee Bucks returned playing a real live (sort of) game against the San Antonio Spurs and emerged victorious, 113-92. The scrimmage was loose, but provided our first proper glimpse of basketball since March. At halftime, Milwaukee found its way to a 47-41 advantage despite some difficult shooting from the outside. The third quarter saw Milwaukee open up a sizable advantage, and they closed the contest with a victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all Bucks in scoring with 22 points on 9/13 shooting, adding on four assists, three rebounds and three steals. He also logged five fouls in just 21 minutes. Khris Middleton tacked on 16 points and five assists while Brook Lopez rounded it out with 17, including 3/3 from deep.
Giannis looks swole, but the long ball has work to do
In the first quarter, Giannis had no trouble bulldozing his way into the paint, even drawing a questionable offensive foul call at one point, but the Spurs defense posed no challenge to the Greek Freak. At least, on the interior. On the perimeter, it was another story to start. Despite those *eye emoji * tweets earlier this week regarding his 3-point shooting, Giannis clanked his first two wide-open attempts to start this game. Thankfully, he drilled his third attempt, but ended 1/5.
K-Midd’s passing was in Midseason Form
My word did Khris Middleton drop some dimes in this game. Early, it was a slick little pocket pass to a rolling Giannis, which, please deliver me more of those two in the pick-and-roll, Bud. It worked to perfection, and later he had a fast break, but held up at the elbow to dish towards a streaking Giannis that led to a layup. Later, it was a wraparound pass in traffic to Brook Lopez rolling into the lane for a finish. Really impressive to see him leverage his opponent’s respect for his shooting prowess into crisp passes that convert into buckets. Here was the capper:
Tough Triple Shooting - No big deal
Milwaukee didn’t have their scope on the mark for the long ball, ending just 12/40 (30%) overall for the game from deep, but they hit enough in the third quarter to open up a large enough lead to overtake the Spurs. Facing a team that took just 23 3-point attempts helps, but the Bucks made their bones on points off turnovers in this one, forcing San Antonio into 22 turnovers while giving it up just 12 times themselves. Coming into today, the Spurs led the league with the fewest turnovers per game, just 12.3.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Jim Paschke and Zora Stephenson did the broadcast from the Fiserv Forum, each of them socially distanced from one another at opposite ends of the table. Major kudos to Paschke for just chomping on a tater tot during game action.
- Periods lasted just 10 minutes in this scrimmage.
- The starting lineup featured your usual starters, with Donte DiVincenzo in place of Eric Bledsoe, who is in Orlando quarantining before he can join Milwaukee on the court. George Hill got the start in the second half.
- George Hill was the first player off the bench, replacing DiVincenzo at the point.
- Brook Lopez dropped home Milwaukee’s first triple of the contest, a 3-point magic we can only hope continues during his time in Disney World. He ended the day 3/3 from deep.
- Nice wrinkle to see from the generally forward-thinking, inclusive Spurs:
The Spurs are rotating their head coach for the three exhibition games, the league says. Becky Hammon is coaching against the Bucks today. Gregg Popovich is on the bench, mask on.— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 23, 2020
- I have to admit, I was not familiar with the Spurs backup center for this game, Drew Eubanks. Either that or I completely forgot him. Regardless, my memory of him seems fittingly blurry given the quality of his Wikipedia featured photo.
- I really enjoyed watching Donte DiVincenzo chase Dejounte Murray around on the defensive end. In the second period, on nearly successive possessions, he whirled through traffic to force a turnover, and a few plays later, he blocked his shot away at the rim.
- With Pat Connaughton out and this being a scrimmage, Sterling Brown got back to his Summer League self serving occasionally as a primary ball handler. And like Summer League, it was a mixed bag. He generally just doesn’t have the burst or ball control to get past the Spurs perimeter defenders.
- Of course Gregg Popovich would unload a coach’s challenge during a scrimmage, and win, as Giannis garnered another offensive foul. Interestingly, Pop was the last of all 30 coaches to use the new feature that debuted this season.
- Our first glimpse of Robin Lopez’s tea-sipping came off this funky behind-the-head pass from Giannis:
The Greek Freak isn’t passing on Tea Time!! pic.twitter.com/cJCkyEFqIo— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 23, 2020
- Major kudos to Frank Mason, who in his first seconds of game action got his pocket picked while accepting an inbound pass. He acquitted himself well enough for the rest of the scrub time during the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points including 7/8 from the free throw line.
- Every Buck who was eligible played, and all of them scored besides Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Thanasis took an ugly looking fall to the ground in the fourth, but thankfully was able to get up seemingly healthy.