The Milwaukee Bucks are going to struggle to defend teams that have even a semblance of ball movement. That’s the first takeaway from two games to start the year against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks.
In the season opener, while the Bucks were unable to keep their foot on the neck of the Sixers, the defense ended up hanging together alright to close when the possessions went primarily through Joel Embiid or Tyrese Maxey. Philly would end with 25 team assists to Milwaukee’s 20. When the Hawks started moving the ball? Forget about it. They had already matched Philly's 25 assists by the end of the third quarter and poured it on from there.
The early problem, so far as I can diagnose it, lies in aggression level. Milwaukee is aggressive enough to open themselves up to a total beatdown, but not collectively aggressive enough to keep the opposing offense off-kilter to force a bad decision. Switches are poorly executed or thought out, assignments are being lost constantly, and gone are the double teams or traps that pin a ball handler against the sideline above the break. Suddenly, Malik Beasley is trying to man guard Clint Capella by himself in the paint while nobody does an adequate job preventing an easy entry pass.
A vague outline of what could work was glimpsed in the preseason, but this was always going to be a scheme that was vulnerable to serious exploitation if things went sideways. It is early in the season, yes. Unless guys figure out their collective flow or Adrian Griffin can make effective tweaks, it could also be a long start to the season as well. If the offense sucks, too? Forget about it.
Milwaukee Bucks Links
I think we underrate the kind of burden Lillard had been tasked with being not only the lead scoring heft for the Portland Trail Blazers, but having to also constantly direct the offense as the point guard. While he will be given room to make reads and calls with the Bucks, he also slots in with three other veteran starters (Giannis, Khris, and Brook) who all know how to play together, when to pick their spots, and to generally function autonomously. If “play random” has a residual benefit, it’ll be to lift the decision-making load on Dame until he’s needed late.
Great long-form article detailing the background leading up to the trade for Lillard from the org’s POV, Giannis’s, and Lillard himself. Take this quote from Giannis and put it in stone:
“The city shows me a lot of love. And also whenever I go out there and have time with my family, they also give me space. When they see me on the street, they give me space. They respect me, who I am as a person, what I’ve done for the city of Milwaukee. And for that, I can’t turn my back. Not now, not in the future, not never. I want to be committed. I want to give back to the city of Milwaukee. We won one championship, but I believe that we can win a second one.”
For guys like Pat Connaughton and Robin Lopez, watching an elite offensive guard at work is something they’ve already experienced. For much of the rest of the roster and all of us watching at home, it is something completely novel. Fun to hear that Lillard’s teammates are just as enamored with what he’s capable of on the court as we are.
ESPN completely misrepresents Damian Lillard interview in social media post (Awful Announcing)
ESPN gives, and then ESPN takes. Truly just a bizarre post with zero upside, and the clarifying statement that the network is trying to connect past interviews (when players were on totally different teams) to current events is... weird? Only a matter of time until ESPN starts posting Giannis interviews wearing Knicks jerseys to advance the agenda.
Fan Post/Comment of the Week
I saw JSOC2.0’s misery at having posted a hair too late to win last week’s FPOTW award, but I’m happy to note nobody else posted in the week since, so we have a winner in, “Season Prediction Central”. While we had our official Brew Hoop predictions post go up a few days later, it never hurts to have even more questions for readers to predict on.
Also, we are going to start adding a new segment to the MMMR called “Comment of the Week”. What is the criteria for winning this new piece of hardware? It is almost completely up to my whims/those nuggets of gold my fellow staff members spot during the week.
Know Your NBA Enemy
Miami Heat - Hot Hot Hoops - Timberwolves crush Heat 106-90
- The Heat are already down a couple of guys with Jimmy Butler resting against the Wolves, Josh Richardson dealing with a foot injury, Caleb Martin a knee problem, and Kevin Love being old. Will they be able to slap something together on the road against Milwaukee?
- Wasn’t aware just how barren the Raptors roster has become. They’ll obviously give teams trouble on a night to night basis, but Pascal Siakam isn’t anyone’s image of a superstar that will win games for his team just by being out there. From what I’ve read, GM Masai Ujiri isn’t particularly interested in tossing any of his young players with upside into trades, so the Raps may be treading water awhile barring a series of big developmental leaps.
New York Knicks - Posting & Toasting - Knicks set to pick up Quentin Grimes’ team option. Is he the Chosen Guard?
- Damn fools forgot that Donte DiVincenzo is just a few lockers down from Grimes. The Chosen is here. The future is now.
The Social Media Section
Wtf was Gruber doing hanging out by the Forum late on a Monday night?
Idk, based off a sample size of one game as of writing, I think these two will probably end up totally decimating the vast majority of NBA defenses
Poor metaphor given his line of work, but I appreciate the sentiment
Brook Lopez and Damian Lillard teaming up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A dream
Riley’s 2023-2024 Regular Season Prediction Record: 1-1
Milwaukee Bucks 2023-2024 Actual Regular Season Record: 1-1
After a slow start to the schedule, the pace of games will pick up rapidly starting this week. The Bucks are back at it tonight hosting the Miami Heat, hit the road for their first away day against the Raptors on Wednesday, and then are back in Milwaukee to host the Knicks on Friday.
Having mailed in their night against the Hawks, I expect Khris Middleton to suit up again tonight against the Heat only to see the team fumble again when guys play too erratically in an attempt to “get revenge”. Then, it is on to wins over the Raps and Knicks — the latter will feature an ugly-off between Giannis and Julius Randle to get the people going.