If you need to know how seriously to take the Milwaukee Bucks in their first game of the NBA preseason – a 106-102 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies – take a cue from Giannis Antetokounmpo:
Just Giannis & his bag(s) of popcorn. pic.twitter.com/6QlRCPuqWo— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 2, 2022
The Bucks went through this game without Giannis, as well as Khris Middleton, Joe Ingles, Wes Matthews, and Pat Connaughton. Not to be outdone, Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins sat…well, just about everybody. With this being the first exhibition game after a normal-length summer, it’s not a shock to see so many rotation-level (or better) players be held out of action.
Per #Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, who joked he rehearsed his rundown on his way into pregame avail. https://t.co/5wCgOWBtUl— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) October 1, 2022
Milwaukee also has very little incentive to play anything above “bare minimum” effort tonight. Not only have they filled all of their standard roster spots – Jordan Nwora took seat 15 a few days ago – but they are wheels up for Abu Dhabi soon, on their way to two exhibition tilts against the Atlanta Hawks.
That being said, there’s still plenty of storylines worth following. Backup point guard is a role that needs filling, and George Hill and Jevon Carter will compete for who offers more to the team by filling it. There’s also minutes to be had on the wing during the absences of Middleton and Ingles, and both Nwora and rookie MarJon Beauchamp are auditioning for that role. There’s even a possibility of roster changes; the Bucks have been active with cycling through their two-way spots, and A.J. Green may very well be let go in favor of someone like Lindell Wigginton, Luca Vildoza, or even newcomer Marques Bolden.
In all likelihood, these stories will be written during practice, not preseason games. These contests only give us a glimpse of what’s actually going on with the team – the tip of the proverbial iceberg – so overreacting to anything from a matchup that literally does not count is worth avoiding. Again, let’s temper our expectations and take our lead from Giannis:
Update: Giannis found more snacks. pic.twitter.com/LrrTtTJYL3— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 2, 2022
Bonus Bucks Bits
- The story of the game was a simple one: the Bucks raced out to a quick lead with their starters, but the Memphis reserves worked their way back into it, and eventually a string of bad decisions and worse luck (like an airballed Memphis three falling into the hands of a Grizzly for a go-ahead layup late in the fourth quarter) turned the tide against Milwaukee. Again, nowhere near everyone of consequence played in this game, so the narrative is essentially artificial.
- Lisa Byington and Marques Johnson were off the call tonight, replaced by Dave Koehn (who jumped over from his radio play-by-play role) and a returning Steve Novak. Weird that we haven’t seen Novak for a long time, but he reappears with the team now that the league’s regulations and health and safety protocols are more relaxed than they once were.
- Jordan Nwora established his case for minutes by embracing his trademarked character: Nwora the Scora. With 21 points (on 15 attempts) and 8 rebounds, Nwora capably carried the offense against weak competition, but regularly created his own shot as well as capitalizing on opportunities like loose balls and offensive rebounds.
- MarJon Beauchamp, the Bucks’ lone rostered rookie, had some rough moments in his NBA debut. His first possessions included having a three-point attempt swatted into the stands, followed by a hesitant cut to the basket which led to a Milwaukee turnover. However, he showcased his motor and routinely wriggled his way into positions to make plays, including this pleasing breakaway dunk:
MARJON BEAUCHAMP THROWS IT DOWN #NBAPreseason is live now on NBA TV!— NBA (@NBA) October 2, 2022
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- That basket was his only basket, though, as Beauchamp struggled to contribute reliably on offense. Defensively, his activity level was a positive influence for the team, as he pulled in 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block. He just has a long way to go to contribute on an NBA court.
Milwaukee doesn’t play again until Thursday morning (11:00am, central time), so here’s hoping the NBA showcase in the Middle East goes smoothly, everyone travels safely, and we can get through the rest of the preseason before the real games kick off later this month.