Ladies and gentlemen, we’re nearly there. After months of absence and weeks of build-up, the NBA is nearly back to playing games that actually count. Tonight is the last freebie for the Milwaukee Bucks, as they’ll take on the New Orleans Pelicans in their last scrimmage in the Orlando bubble.
Eric Bledsoe is back and with the team. Pat Connaughton is back and not yet with the team, but with any luck he’ll be a part of the active roster in a few days. Everyone else seems to be fully online, after thoroughly thrashing the Spurs and Kings, respectively. Notably, both Brook and Robin Lopez are showing off impressive shooting and defensive performances, which bodes well for the Bucks’ prospects at defending the East’s largest centers.
Everybody seems comfortable and loose and ready to get to work. And even without Bledsoe (who may play today) or Connaughton (who won’t), the eight seeding games are another opportunity to continue warming up and stay ready for the postseason.
That moment near halfcourt on a Giannis grab and go when he shifts into another gear is about as good as it gets in today's NBA https://t.co/VxF76Z1zzn— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) July 25, 2020
For their part, Giannis and Thanasis (and Kostas!) Antetokounmpo are getting a chance to enjoy themselves.
Playing UNO with the Antetokounmpo brothers in the #NBABubble - and yep, they're as competitive as advertised. Great conversation about life, family, and how three brothers from Greece could end up facing each other in the NBA Finals: pic.twitter.com/38iJhJw7dX— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 26, 2020
At 28-36, New Orleans has an uphill battle to wage if they want to unseat the Memphis Grizzlies for the Western Conference’s 8th seed. They’re tied with the Sacramento Kings and one game behind the now-healthy Portland Trail Blazers, but they’ve notched scrimmage wins over Brooklyn and Denver (both of whom are razor-thin on the roster), both without franchise savior Zion Williamson. Zion is expected to be available for the return to standard play but he will still be quarantined for leaving the bubble today.