The Bucks are back! Well…kinda.
Milwaukee played in their first preseason game Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls. Behind double-doubles from Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe, the Bucks won, 116-82. A huge win, albeit it’s only preseason, but a win nonetheless. In case you missed the beatdown of the Bulls, here are the 5 most important takeaways from the game…
The new Fiserv Forum looks incredible. The green trim accents the lighter court color beautifully and the giant logo in the middle is perfectly sized. The court is leagues above the old and outdated, Bradley Center. I mean, the court looks even better when the Bucks dominate on the boards (won the rebounding battle 64-43) and win by 34. I’m just saying…Anyways, Bucks fans should feel good about the new stadium and watching their favorite team break it in.
The starting unit containing Lopez, Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Brogdon, and Bledsoe had nice chemistry. There were a ton of drive and kicks, and it seemed like everybody knew where each other would be. The starters seemed comfortable with the new offense, which I will be getting into later. They looked more free flowing than in the past, there was not much standing around, and they set each other up. With great chemistry in the first preseason game, I can only imagine what it will look like in game 40. These starters will give teams a reason to “Fear the Deer.”
Donte DiVincenzo was the first member of the Bucks off the bench. This shows that new coach, Mike Budenholzer has confidence in the rookie and wants to develop him. DiVincenzo shot an abysmal 1-9 from the field for only 2 points. However, the first year man proved he still belonged on the court by registering 6 assists and 7 rebounds. He played with energy, as he went for loose balls and battled for rebounds. He also showed a high basketball IQ with his ability to run off screens and with his ability to make crafty passes. Even though he did not shoot well, he was still valuable on the court. When a guy is doing all of the little things correctly, it is easy to overlook their shooting woes. Don’t worry about his shot considering he has picture perfect form, the threes will start to fall.
New Look Offense
Milwaukee’s new offense, set up by Mike Budenholzer, looked fantastic in the first game. The theme of the night was “pace with space with purpose” and that is exactly what the Bucks did. The offense was fast paced and focused on off-ball movement while filling in lanes in transition. There was great ball movement whether it was Ilyasova, Brogdon, Maker, everybody made quick, crisp passes. Finally, if this game was indicative of the entire season, expect the Bucks to shoot a lot of threes per game. Like A LOT. In this game alone, Milwaukee put up 45 shots from the beyond the arc, even Henson and Zeller were putting them up. If players are going to want minutes this season, they are going to have to hit threes.
Even with the addition of Brook Lopez in the offseason, the Bucks are still inconsistent at the backup center position. The Bucks have options at the position but none of them are very appealing. In last night’s game Henson had 10 points (4-5 from the field), 1 rebound, and 3 blocks in 9 minutes of action. Henson looked fast and seemed to play with a better flow in this offensive style compared to last season’s. If Thon Maker could constantly access “Playoff Thon” then he would be the clear backup to Brook Lopez but as we all know, he doesn’t do that. Maker ended up with 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and looked athletic as usual. He hit a wide open corner three set up by Donte DiVincenzo and seemed to look comfortable expanding his range. Tyler Zeller looked like the odd man out in this backup center equation. He ended up with 4 points (2-5 from the floor) and 1 rebound. He looked slow, out of place, and registered a travel in the fast paced offense. Moving forward, look for the backup center position to be a battle between John Henson and Thon Maker.
Milwaukee’s next preseason game will be against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:00 pm (CT) this Sunday night.