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Monday Morning Media Roundup: Damian Lillard, Puppet Master

Milwaukee Bucks links for your perusal on December 11th, 2023

Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks: Semifinals - 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Let me get one thing clear from the start: I do not believe Damian Lillard ordered Bobby Portis to voice his displeasure with head coach Adrian Griffin. Lillard does not have a body of shock troopers on the roster to carry out his bidding.

But is it too far to suggest that Lillard glimpsed an opportunity to push the overall situation in his preferred direction and took it? I don’t think so.

In truth, we will probably never know who leaked to Chris Haynes that Portis, “passionately challenged,” Griffin. All we can do from the outside is run through a haphazard game of educated guessing. I could walk through an entire conspiracy theory here to boost my word count, but I’ll save you that trouble by simply noting that Haynes and Lillard have (allegedly) long had a constructive working media relationship.

The presence of Lillard in Milwaukee is an anomaly in countless ways — on the court and off it. As much as the players and coaching staff are working to adjust to his presence in-game, I wonder if the organization is capable of adjusting to a star who is willing to play a larger game in pursuit of his own interests as well. While his primary interest is winning, I’ve no doubt, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dame has reservations with the path the Bucks are taking to get there. If you were a superstar who publicly forced your way out of your previous team, tried (and failed) to dictate the destination, got shipped to Milwaukee instead to team up with your old HC, only to see that guy quit before the season even began, followed by an uneven start to the year... well, maybe you’d take it upon yourself to fall back on your comfort working the media to facilitate change?

This is a whole new world the Bucks have stepped into. For all the faults of the previous iterations of this team, players enlisting the fourth estate was rarely one of them. Now the Bucks have a superstar adept at that very game. It is like Milwaukee sat down at the craps table only to find out the dice are loaded and were from the start; another complication in a year full of them.

Let’s roundup!


Milwaukee Bucks Links

Giannis Antetokounmpo should’ve known the challenges he would face as Damian Lillard’s pick-and-roll partner (CBS Sports)

Thought this was a good summation of the P&R challenge (and ultimate opportunity) presented to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. In a season where we are doing a lot of compare and contrast to what came before, the change in where on the court Giannis gets the ball and needs to make a decision with it is crucial. Previously he could look around at set defenses and queue up in his mind what would come next. Now, he gets the ball in motion inside the three-point line and has to move with it, pass out, or reset with very little time to think.

Before he could determine that he would drive, try to get to the elbow or block, and very obviously knew which shooter he was going to pass out to on the way. Now the timeline is far more compressed. That’s a lot to adjust to and overcome.

Giannis Antetokounmpo urges Bucks to ‘be better’ after tourney loss (ESPN)

The latest in quotes from a team that most definitely isn’t spinning its wheels a bit. It seems from the outside looking in (even pre-Bobby blowup) like an exceedingly tricky situation to navigate out of. Obviously the talent is there, but this also wouldn’t be the first supremely talented team in sports to fail to have it meaningfully connect when it matters. In fact, the graveyard of history is littered with them. Clock is ticking!

In-Season Tournament: 5 takeaways from Semifinals (NBA.com)

I’ve liked the theory floated by some readers in the Pacers post-game pieces that there was a sense of Adrian Griffin looking to use the semifinal as something of a “playoff primer”. You’d rather you get exposed now when it doesn’t matter much v. down the road. The greater upside: Milwaukee is about to start a six game home stand. Could be a chance to paper over the cracks or start making more meaningful steps in the right direction.

The State Of Basketblogging (Defector)

Warning: this is a basketblog in the traditional sense of a post stretching out over thousands and thousands of words. To boot, it appears to be reaching for the lofty heights of the lovechild between basketball media theorizing and Marxist dialectic.

But get past all the fluff and it does a good job of boiling down contemporary basketball coverage into two philosophical camps: Geeks who have come around on intangibles in sport v. Ball Knowers (players and the enterprises around them). Further, which camp shall be ascendant may be determined in large part by who embraces video as their core offering. As a basketblogger who can barely edit the pre-recorded calls we do for Deer Diaries, that truth sure has me in a bind!

Know Your NBA Enemy

Chicago Bulls - Blog A Bull - Coby White is proving other teams’ low interest in Zach LaVine to be correct

Losing Blog A Bull in the great blog culling last year was a real shame for SBN. I’m happy they’ve continued plugging away on Substack. The dedication to shaming the org and mediocre players is worth admiring, even if it does confessing to the fact that no matter the trade return for Zach LaVine, it’ll have a better long-term impact on the Bulls prospects than LaVine ever will if he stays.

Indiana Pacers - Indy Cornrows - Pacers close out Bucks, advance to IST Championship game

Tyrese Haliburton is a great great great player. That’s my analysis.

Detroit Pistons - Detroit Bad Boys - I regret(?) to inform you the Detroit Pistons are just a run-of-the-mill bad team

453 comments on this piece from Pistons fans. 453! DBB, much like Blog A Bull, remains alive and well simply because the utter incompetence of the team generates so much heat from those suckers still invested in the operation. This is the wilderness we Bucks fans emerged from, and it is the same wilderness we shall return to eventually. The cycle of life.

Houston Rockets - The Dream Shake - Are the Rockets just plain lucky?

Thought this was a good piece dwelling on that interminable question of how three-point defense actually works. It makes you look back on Pat Connaughton’s leaping flyby defense warmly. It also drills down to the heart of what may ail Milwaukee’s current defense: If you’re going to be “aggressive” at the perimeter with below-average defensive personnel, you’re begging opponents to break you down and start pummeling you from deep with relative comfort.

Fan Post/Comment of the Week

FPOTW:

For comment of the week, I’m inclined to hand it to Jo Ma for uncovering a vein of thought that I believe we’re all going to have to embrace with these Bucks:

Maybe we should just stop worrying and learn to love offense

The Social Media Section

Our very own Gabe is making huge waves out there. This post has 107.7K likes as of writing.

@espn

#Giannis puts up numbers in the #candy aisle too (via Stolzy3/X) #nba #inseasontournament #milwaukeebucks

♬ original sound - ESPN

You know you’ve made it when you can post highlights to your own singles

Money with wings emoji = guaranteed lackluster effort in the office the day after a night in Vegas

Nobody can soliloquy quite like my God Emperor Goof

Dept. of Juco = Department of Junior College? Can you brand that? I guess so.

Imma skip the step of lugging around this lump of plastic and just continue practicing on double rims

Respect to Bobby cryptic reposting this image Adam Silver shared of Portis and Vin. The conspiracy goes deep.


Riley’s 2023-2024 Regular Season Prediction Record: 10-12

Milwaukee Bucks 2023-2024 Actual Regular Season Record: 15-7

Let all the home games begin!

  • v. Chicago Bulls, Monday — 7:00 PM CT
  • v. Indiana Pacers, Wednesday — 7:00 PM CT
  • v. Detroit Pistons, Saturday — 5:00 PM CT
  • v. Houston Rockets, Sunday — 6:00 PM CT

Tough week to guess on because this is a tough Bucks team to project forward (note the losses to the Bulls and numerous losses to Pacers). We are 10-2 at home, so I’ll guess at wins over Chicago, Indiana, and Detroit with a loss to the Rockets in order to even everything out. If you have a more reliable system of determining which Bucks we’ll get on any given night, my email inbox is open!

Happy Monday!