During last year’s pandemic-impacted season, we had the opportunity to see the Milwaukee Bucks play a number of “mini series” in which they’d face the same opponent in back-to-back games. While we have three of those this year (twice against the Magic and once against the Hornets, for some reason), they’re far from the norm. Instead, we’ll gladly take the chance to have a pseudo-series against the San Antonio Spurs as they come to town to play the Bucks just a week removed since they last faced off — a 121-111 victory for Milwaukee. Will the Bucks be able to bounce back from a home loss on Wednesday and sneak another win past the Spurs?
Where We’re At
Injuries injuries injuries. That’s the main theme of this young year, and it’s one we were dealing with but a week ago in San Antonio! Then, Jrue Holiday was able to suit up a few days removed from a heel contusion in the season opener. Now, both Jrue and Brook Lopez have been sidelined for (over) a week, pressing the Bucks’ bench into ever more demanding front-line service. While Milwaukee was able to survive a jumpshot-happy Indiana Pacers team, their lack of size was routinely exploited by the Minnesota Timberwolves as Giannis Antetokounmpo-at-center starting lineups continue to be a work in progress. Still, the Bucks clawed their way back from a 20 point hole to get it within 2 with ~10 seconds remaining. Also, we got this all-time Anthony Edwards quote regarding Giannis:
Anthony Edwards on Giannis Antetokounmpo pic.twitter.com/g617svNBgB— jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) October 28, 2021
Since we last saw the Spurs they’ve dropped a further two games losing 125-121 to the Los Angeles Lakers and 104-99 to the Dallas Mavericks. Their net rating on the year (+0.2) sits exactly at league average, and while they have the highest rate of two-point shot selection in the NBA, they’re nearly dead-last when it comes to 1) getting to the free throw line and 2) converting when they’re there — 15.0 FTA per game while hitting 64.0% as a team. That means it’s a whole buncha mid-rangers, a fact that would normally be cause for concern for Milwaukee’s zone-drop scheme. However, with Giannis at the five a perfect zone-drop isn’t feasible, so maybe our slapdash rotations and slapdash sort of zone-drop/sort of switching scheme will hold together where it counts. With Doug McDermott out from a knee injury, the Spurs are going to be even more underhanded from beyond the arc.
Update: Bobby out.
Holiday and Lopez are indeed listed as OUT for tomorrow's game. Donte DiVincenzo too.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) October 29, 2021
Bobby Portis is OUT (return to competition reconditioning) for tomorrow night's game as well. https://t.co/Y5aDtDMYvX
Milwaukee injuries: Jrue Holiday OUT (ankle), Brook Lopez OUT (back), Donte DiVincenzo OUT (ankle), Bobby Portis OUT (conditioning)
San Antonio injuries: Doug McDermott OUT (knee), Zach Collins OUT (foot)
Player to Watch
Second time’s the charm? Semi Ojeleye? Anyone? His Bucks debut was less than stellar with 12 minutes played, a goose egg from three-point land, and 1 steal and 1 rebound. With Milwaukee continually down their starting center and the Spurs equipped with a million players between the heights of 6’4” and 6’8”, there’s no better time than the present to get back out there. Realistically, unless he’s an utter wrecking ball on defense, his time in Milwaukee will be made or broken by whether he can boost that 0% mark from three. No pressure!
Jakob Pöltl will be the pick for the Spurs, if only because he threw a bit of a wrench in Giannis’s offensive approach the last time these two teams met. Large enough to hang tough in the paint, quick enough reflexes to maintain contact in space, and not an easy guy to seal off for a rebound, how well he plays on both ends will have an outsized impact on how far Milwaukee goes.
Game 6: Against San Antonio, Milwaukee will...
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Win big (10 or more points)
Win close (9 or fewer points)
Lose close (9 or fewer points)
Lose big (10 or more points)