Where We’re At
Today, I’m not terribly interested in talking about NBA basketball. It’s not that my feelings on the game have changed, but that the environment that we’re working – and living – in is rapidly shifting...and it doesn’t seem like it’s for the better.
some personal news: this hurts pic.twitter.com/cDmMlg2Bt1— Caitlin Cooper (@C2_Cooper) January 26, 2023
I’ll withhold further comment for now, but I will say the times, they are a-changin.
Let’s get into the basketball side of things. The Bucks had finally gotten healthy before Bobby Portis suffered a minor knee sprain, so now Milwaukee is shorthanded for a little while (again). Giannis Antetokounmpo was reinstated as an All-Star Game captain, having earned the most fan votes ahead of February’s exhibition weekend. Most importantly, Khris Middleton is back and although it’s been only two games, he’s starting to look like himself again.
Meanwhile, the Pacers continue their surprising campaign; it was widely expected that they would be terrible, and they are decidedly not terrible. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin has surpassed most expectations in his initial campaign, and newcomer Tyrese Haliburton has established himself as an All-Star-level player. The Pacers might not even trade Myles Turner, if this keeps up!
On the health side, though, Indiana has a rough outlook tonight. Haliburton is out, and Turner, Andrew Nembhard, and Aaron Nesmith are all questionable. On the flip side, Milwaukee is without Portis and Serge Ibaka (as he awaits a trade to another team), while MarJon Beauchamp is questionable and Giannis Antetokounmpo is probable.
Player To Watch
With Portis out, the Bucks need to resolve the hole in their front court rotation. And whenever you have an odd basketball job that needs doing, look no further than Pat Connaughton.
Pat Connaughton put up 19 points & 12 rebounds last night.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) January 26, 2023
"Looking at the stat sheet, it would have been nice to go 20&10 because that's what Bobby does." - Connaughton
Connaughton at PF is one of the solutions for the Bucks with Portis out. What else?https://t.co/9nDYhvtBJa
With the renewed health of Middleton and Joe Ingles, the Bucks finally have size again, even with Portis missing time. However, neither Khris nor Joe is going to play Bobby’s bruising style as a forward, and that physicality is one of the hallmarks of this Bucks team. Enter Pat, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic:
“I’ve still found ways to play bigger than who I am and I think Coach Bud does a great job utilizing me in different areas,” Connaughton said following Wednesday’s shootaround, when asked about potentially playing power forward more with Portis out. “Playing the four is something that is not new to me, and when you do screen and you do roll, Jrue (Holiday) and I, Giannis and I, we all have some continuity with me screening now, it’s not just about getting to the rim and finishing, it’s about being a playmaker in the roll and I think that’s where I can be most dangerous. You got guys cutting, you got shooters around me.”
Lopez and I always joke about it,” Connaughton continued. “I’m probably the shortest guy that rolls (on pick-and-rolls) but causes the most havoc on a defense when I’m in the paint off the pick and roll. It’s fun to be in that situation and it’s a situation that no matter where I play, I’ll try to have the biggest impact that I can.”
Game 49: Against Indiana, the Bucks will...
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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)