If you’ve been watching Las Vegas Summer League, you know what the drill is: The Milwaukee Bucks played the Dallas Mavericks, and something you could claim to be basketball took place. Ultimately, the Bucks would hang on for a 100-89 victory.
The first quarter was something of an up and down affair, the Bucks starting things with a 10-7 lead about halfway through the allotted 10 minutes. Lindell Wigginton took on starting point guard duties and his limitations as a pure creator were on display not so much in terms of turnovers, but merely the fact that the base offense failed to ever get out of first gear once he began his motions. MarJon Beauchamp took a pair of threes, one in the flow of the offense, the second on a fast break and missed both, although; however, his defensive instinct was on display almost his entire time on the court, especially in man defense. We’ve seen him flash the ability to shadow guards from way out on the perimeter and we saw plenty of that in the first, exemplified by two nice steals to disrupt drives, one of which got him free for a nice fast break dunk.
However, besides a Mamu near-poster, the rest of the team was very bad. 2 assists, 8 turnovers, and 2-9 from three levels of bad. Mavs up 28-17.
And yet, basketball can be a silly sport! Having lost complete and total control of their bodies to finish the first quarter, the Bucks gradually began to climb back into things. Defensive effort ticked up a bit, the Mavs began missing and turning the ball over at a Bucks-like level, and after a 21-7 run, Milwaukee regained the lead at 39-38. AJ Green made another notch in his “Summer League Steph Curry” belt with back to back threes midway through the quarter, one of which came off a nice Sandro Mamukelashvili kick-out. On defense, the highlights continued to be how well MarJon was navigating the floor through thickets of defenders, often the quickest guy to recover position or bail a teammate out. He even had a nice Giannis-like block off the backboard on a shot attempt that should’ve been an automatic basket for Dallas. They’d go into the half tied 42-42.
Into the third, it was mostly Milwaukee for the first seven minutes of the quarter, keeping Dallas to a mere 4 points scored while the Bucks continued to add to their lead. Generally, once again, the defense of the starters who played the majority of the minutes to start the quarter was the key.
Then coach Vin Baker ran a closing lineup that was so inexplicable as to make those at home wonder whether Mike Budenholzer wasn’t making a call down to the sideline. Matt Hurt, Hugo Besson, Sylvain Francisco, Dylan Cheatham, and AJ Green may have a future as a lineup somewhere, but it certainly wasn’t tonight! For a solid two minutes, I swear I could hear the dulcet tones of Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax” playing over the arena sound system. Baker quickly corrected for his error, put some starters back in, and Lindell Wigginton started to score everything on his own as the Bucks reached a 73-60 lead after three.
Yet it wouldn't be a Bucks Summer League game if it didn’t feature a comedy of errors to close things. Wigginton, who had been on absolute fire through much of the second half, kicked things off by getting called for an offensive foul shoving a defender’s hands away from him, then fell asleep on defense for a Mavs three, and then just start slinging the ball to anyone in a blue jersey. I believe Dallas got it to within four or five points and looked to have all the moment. Rayjon Tucker was given the assignment to slow Mavs second-round pick Jaden Hardy down and just didn’t have the lateral quickness to stay in front of him. In stepped MarJon...
On cue, he once again corralled Hardy above the break, kept moving and knocked Hardy off his dribble move. Then, initial possession disrupted, Beauchamp was switched over onto (I believe) Jalen Harding, maintained an oppressive pressure, and was able to force Dallas into an offensive foul. That broke the Mavs run and allowed the Bucks to finally mop things up, winning 100-89 and moving to 3-1 on the Summer League season.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- I didn’t mention Sandro Mamukelashvili much, and that’s my fault. Between him and Wigginton the Bucks benefitted from two guys who not only had no fear driving to the hoop, but were decisive in knowing when to go and often when to pass out to a waiting teammate on the perimeter. Sandro finished with 19 points on 5-10 shooting with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals while Wigginton closed with 25 points on 8-14, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal. If there was a game where both showed their experience benefitting from working within a true NBA system, it was this one.
- MarJon tallied up 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block while limiting himself to just 3 personal fouls. As SL has gone on it does seem like he’s starting to find his groove as the lead defensive tool on this roster. I struggle to recall many defensive possessions tonight where he outright failed in his assignment — some miscommunications aside — and more often than not any guy he was told to guard immediately saw a drop in their contributions to whatever Dallas was doing. Yet again, it looks like there are plenty of tools there.
- AJ Green can shoot, and shoot he did. 15 points, 5-9 from three and 2 very feisty rebounds.
- For those who were a little worried about how loose Beauchamp’s dribble was... he did throw it off his own foot in the fourth quarter. BUT! He also had a couple impressive moments driving through traffic in the lane before popping his head up and getting the ball to a Dewan Hernandez rolling to the rim. Right now it is all about instincts and we’re seeing plenty.
- Luca Vildoza and Iverson Molinar did not see any time on the floor tonight. That makes it three out of four games with 0 minutes for Molinar which is a disappointment.
- As someone who owns no package that would allow me to watch ESPN, I had to mosey on over to Mavs.com for their concurrent livestream. Imagine the shock on my face when it turned out to be far more entertaining than it had any right to be! There was even a shoutout of our sister site Mavs Money Ball and, through the transitive property known as being sub-brands under the same media parent company, I like to think Brew Hoop got a little shoutout too.
The Bucks will play a fifth game on either Saturday or Sunday; it all depends on the final records of the rest of the teams in Vegas which will ultimately determine final matchups. No matter who they play, we’ll be back here to cover it.