Up is down, left is right, the Milwaukee Bucks are the worst team in the NBA, so on and so forth. The bubble has left the Bucks in a weird spot (just like the coronavirus pandemic has left the world in a weird spot), where they have secured the best record in the NBA and look awful. But we’re not out of the woods yet, and a back-to-back contest against the already-eliminated Washington Wizards looms.
It’s weird out there, y’all.
The Bucks are just not with it right now. Their shooting is off, their defense is soft, their passing is lazy, and they look every bit of their 2-4 record in the bubble. Are they treating this like the regular season, the preseason, or something else entirely? We don’t know, and we won’t know until we see where they land once the playoffs roll around.
Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the Toronto game after a dental procedure (but he didn’t leave the bubble!), and Wesley Matthews checked out of the Raptors contest way early but has not been reported to be dealing with any specific injury. There’s no way to know who will actually play in this one, or for how many minutes, or anything, really.
Player to Watch: Donte DiVincenzo
Earlier in the restart, Donte was given additional responsibilities on top of his existing defense-first role. As a ball-handler and facilitator for the offense, Donte has struggled. As a shooter, Donte has struggled. And where he’s excelled (on defense), Donte has struggled.
Keeping an eye on how Donte handles tonight’s game is going to be important; his backcourt teammates (Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Pat Connaughton, and Kyle Korver) each seem to be coming around at the right time, so DiVincenzo will need to show that he can be considered a part of that group for when the playoffs roll around and Mike Budenholzer wants to take advantage of his perimeter defense and streaky shooting.
If a team is in the bubble but has no chance at the playoffs, are they really there at all?
No John Wall, no Bradley Beal, no Davis Bertans, and they were without realistic hope for a shot at the 8th seed anyways. This team runs and scores relatively well, but they’re winless in the bubble with their smallest margin of defeat at 8 points. There’s just...there’s not much here.
Player to Watch: Rui Hachimura
The one bright spot for Washington is their rookie forward from Japan; Hachimura, 22, was the 9th overall pick in the draft, and very clearly hit the rookie wall back in March...just in time for the league to go on hiatus. The 6’8” Gonzaga product has a little bit of young Giannis to his game, right down to the shyness shooting threes. His development is probably one of the few major points of emphasis for head coach Scott Brooks, so we’ll see if he’s tested by a motivated Milwaukee defense (or given a free pass because honestly, the Bucks aren’t demonstrating a ton of discipline in these games right now).