How large of a sample size is necessary before I can make the most grandiose of assertions about your 2022-2023 Milwaukee Bucks?
Great. The defense is back. Like, back back.
Although the Bucks have only played cellar-dweller teams to start the season in the Houston Rockets and James Harden, what matters is that they won and did so largely on the back of what looks like a reenergized defense. The key, or so it seems to this observer’s untrained eye, is merely a shifting of the emphases rather than a wholesale teardown. Jevon Carter has been an adventure on offense, but has done well covering ball-handlers from the moment they cross the half court line. Jrue Holiday has expended a ton of energy at the point of attack, sometimes maintaining pressure even when in the past he should’ve “handed off” his assignment to the next teammate on the perimeter. You can tell the communication isn’t seamless right now when Jrue overcommits and nobody switches on the weak side to help cover his primary assignment, but I chalk that up to a work-in-progress. For the most part, those third and fourth guys on the floor have avoided collapsing willy-nilly in help defense and leaving the whole unit out to dry.
The result? 7 blocks in two games for Brook Lopez, the league’s best defensive rating at 99.6 (again, on extremely small sample size and against bad teams), and limiting opponent 3PA per game to 30.5. That last value is a whole 10 attempts fewer than what the Bucks allowed on average last season at 40.6 when they allowed the highest number of 3PA in the league. Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo in particular look fully ready to reclaim their spot as the most menacing interior defensive duo in the entire NBA.
Milwaukee’s offense will take some time to get going while Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton are away, but through two games the Bucks have scrounged up enough scoring to snatch wins anyways. If we’re looking at this early period of the year as a gimme where every win is earning interest in the bank, I’d say we’re off to as propitious a start as we could ask. And with a long stretch of home games against so-so competition in the cards the next two weeks, we’ve a chance for a very strong start to the campaign.
Whether this is your first time listening or your 136th (or more!), we’re happy to say the Brew Hoop Podcast is back! Adam and I talked the first two games of the season and why he and I were (relatively) more pessimistic than our colleagues in our season preview on the staff roundtable.
The Bucks Are Betting on Déjà Vu (New York Times)
Continuity was the word plastered on every surface by the team this offseason. Keeping the same team around was done out of financial necessity, yes, but also out of a genuine belief that losing in the ECSF last year really was more fluke than anything. As above, that continuity should surely be a solid foundation upon which to begin the season against teams who are only starting to gel together. As before, the key is whether continuity is more help or hindrance in the later stages of the year.
Normally don’t post Athletic pieces here because of the paywall, but I was able to read this one which means it is either open to the public or I used my free article limit on it. In any event, give the link a try. We’re all aware of the lengths to which Giannis will go to avoid a slackening of the competitive pressure he puts on his own shoulders (don’t call me MVP, LeBron is the best player in the world still, etc.), but I bet you didn’t think he invents entire conversations where someone trash talked him in order to push himself ever further to his body’s limits, did you?
Bucks Building Street Through Bradley Center Site (Urban Milwaukee)
Applicable to those who live in Milwaukee or go to the Forum often. I’d forgotten about the proposal of the concert venue (which would only take up a third of the block’s space) right across from the Forum on Highland Ave. Whether the city ultimately approves of it or some other building, odds are the empty lot due south of the Forum will remain empty forever — especially as that block will likely play a key role in extracting the most value out of the land LED owns.
Bucks’ season-opening win over 76ers another reminder they need Khris Middleton to reach their full potential (CBS Sports)
It didn’t particularly matter against the Rockets because their defense is just outright bad, but yes, nights when Jrue is struggling with his scoring are going to make the absence of Khris Middleton downright glaring. He isn’t a salve to all that ails Milwaukee’s offense, but my man does know how to score. This was experience months ago and foreseen the moment we found out he’d miss time to start the season, at least.
A nice wrap up of the defensive highlights in particular from the win over Philly. Hard to gauge how meaningful the win will be since the Sixers are currently tied with the Magic for worst record in the Eastern Conference, but hey, we’ll take it.
From where we are today, we look proudly back on where we came from to reach this pinnacle in the franchise’s history. And so we have this week’s FPOTW winner, Kahrima W., reporting live from the basketball D-Day known as, “Bucks Open Scrimmage or MarJon Beauchamp Showcase…?”.
MarJon may only play garbage minutes as a rookie, but he’ll always have the Open Scrimmage.
Know Your Enemy
We love film study around these parts, and while it does start off with Brooklyn’s so-called “Big Three”, there are notes for many of the other players on the roster. A good way to crash-dive associate yourself with the ‘22-’23 Nets.
Like a Brew Hoop staff roundtable, except the Knicks!
In the same vein as the Nets player film study, the folks at DBB put together a whole host of pieces setting the table for the prominent young guys on the Pistons this year. I was impressed from what I saw of Cade Cunningham in Detroit’s home opener, and he’ll be the dynamo through which the Pistons run the offense. After an iffy start to his rookie season, it’s been an upward trajectory for Cade since.
The Social Media Section
Note that MarJon just kept his own game-worn jersey and gave dude (who was a former high school teammate of his) a replica lol. Killer mentality.
Breaking: near-30 year-old man has another growth spurt
So Giannis is now officially 7’0” tall? Cool. pic.twitter.com/nJakCIM8oQ— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) October 23, 2022
I prayed for this moment. Hard to fathom their actually being answered in the affirmative.
From Doc Rivers:— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) October 23, 2022
-P.J Tucker was yelling in locker room about how no one’s going to give Sixers a win, they need to earn it.
-Rotations with Embiid subbing out earlier indeed due to conditioning, probably will last for at least a couple more weeks.
These purple jerseys are going to absolutely slay sales numbers. I can’t wait.
There is no redemption arc more spectacular than Brandon Jennings’s (and don’t worry, the sensitive content is a picture of a George Webb sign lol)
You not from Milwaukee if you never ate here!!!— Brandon Jennings (@Tuff__Crowd) October 20, 2022
After them 618 and 720 nights yesssiirrr pic.twitter.com/OteGjZC9xc
Team should’ve just ran this on the Jumbotron before the home opener
This guy is going to be a partner with every charitable organization in the city because that’s how he’s built
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 1-1
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 2-0
We’ve quite the lay off between the home opener last Saturday and our next game at home this Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets. Three days of rest is generous, and it comes at a good time so the squad can pace themselves as they ease into things. After Wednesday, the other New York team in the Knicks are in town Friday night, followed by the Hawks on Saturday.
All three games are against probable Eastern playoff teams, and I’m particularly curious about the matchups against the Nets and Hawks as a test of the all-world defense I’ve already proclaimed. Put me down for wins over the Knicks and Hawks with Atlanta in Milwaukee on the second game of a back-to-back, and a slog against a pre-full-scale implosion Brooklyn.