Atop the NBA standings and on the second night of a back-to-back, the Milwaukee Bucks are back from their brief sojourn to Riley Feldmannland, seeking to become the league’s first to nine wins. In their way are the Oklahoma City Thunder and their young whippersnappers, who are off to a decent start considering that youth and a tough slate of opponents to begin the season.
Where We’re At
Once again, it’s a great time to be a Bucks fan. While the state’s other sports teams flounder to varying degrees, the wider NBA reels from antisemitic actions and tacit complicity from its high-profile stars plus abhorrence towards women from its young players (and possibly from a team itself), the Bucks represent everything good about basketball. In general, they looked very good in Minneapolis and finally started making some threes, but they got back awfully late (early?) this morning. Perhaps we’ll see fewer minutes tonight from the starters—all of them but Jevon Carter played 30+ minutes last night—but in a similar fashion to last weekend’s home-home B2B, Wesley Matthews only played 10 minutes on the front end. Though he notched his first triple-double of the young campaign in the waning hours of Friday evening, Giannis is listed as questionable with left knee soreness. Otherwise, two-way players A.J. Green (out recovering from surgery to his fractured nose) and Sandro Mamukelashvili (questionable with a possible concussion) make up the injury report, aside from the longer-term injuries (Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton, and Joe Ingles).
Down in Oklahoma, which I believe is Choctaw for “amassed first-round picks,” early returns on 2022–23 aren’t bad. After an 0-3 start including two losses to the same Timberwolves that the Bucks dispatched a night ago, the Thunder won four of five including back-to-back wins over the title-favorite Clippers. These wins stem from a surprisingly stout defense, led by Lu Dort but finding effectiveness with a rotating cast of starting frontcourts based on their opponent. OKC is obviously missing no. 2 pick Chet Holmgren, out for the year after foot surgery, but also will lack third-year big/human walking stick Aleksej Pokusevski.
Player To Watch
Shai Gilgeous Alexander is coming off a big night in Denver, and at 32.3 PPG would be getting MVP buzz if he was on a title contender. Like Giannis, he’s a reigning conference player of the week. He’s also taken steps forward defensively, better battling through screens and utilizing his quickness to average 2.5 steals per game. Jrue Holiday and Carter will likely both see time on him tonight, and he may assume the task of slowing down Holiday’s recent hot stretch on the other end.
Game 9: Against Oklahoma CIty, the Bucks will…
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)
The Bucks will tip off against the Thunder at 7pm (Central). All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on SlingTV.