An Uninspiring Start: Bucks 86 – Sixers 99
The slightly build rookie point guard finishes just shy of a triple double in his NBA debut. Needless to say, people are excited about the prospects of his pro career.
And we all know how TJ Ford turned out.
While I’m hoping Brandon Jennings has a longer more positive lasting impact on the Milwaukee Bucks, I’m reminding myself today that one game doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, as proven by Ford’s 2003 opening night line of 11 points 11 rebounds and seven assists. Reminding myself that Jennings one good night doesn’t guarantee a stellar season helps me remember that the rest of the Bucks bad night Friday doesn’t guarantee a last place finish or a 26 win team.
The Bucks looked tentative from the get-go on Friday. Philadelphia played younger, more athletic and more aggressive all night. The Sixers had more fastbreak points (19-11), more free throws (34-19) and more combined steals and blocks (19-9) all signs that they controlled most aspects of the game. When the Bucks were able to hang around it was more due to timely three point shooting than actual out playing of the Sixers.
- The Bucks reliance on the jump shot especially hurts them when teams like the Sixers start rolling off consecutive baskets and get on a run. At time like these it would be nice if the Bucks had a go to guy who could get to the rim and finish or get fouled. Jennings can break guys down, but after he gets past the first defender he is met by someone much larger at the rim and it ended up in him getting blocked more often than not. One day when he develops an in between shot for the times he gets by the first guy and doesn’t want to meet the next one he’ll be lethal.
- If Luc Richard Mbah a Moute isn’t making an impact on the defensive end, he turns into something of a liability. Zero steals and blocks to go with just four rebounds is not the kind of impact we’re used to seeing from LRMAM. When the other team is getting out in transition a lot it also neutralizes him as a defender. And offensively LRMAM can’t contribute much. His jump shot is still not very good and he’s a bit slight to do much work at the rim. I’m sure in time these things will come and he’ll typically offer much more on the defensive end of the court, but Friday was not his finest showing.
- The second unit was every bit the problem everyone feared it would be. Charlie Bell hit two threes in the first half and then failed to score again, Ersan Ilyasova looks very unsure of himself whenever he gets the ball and Dan Gadzuric missed a dunk with no one within five feet of him. Hakim Warrick at least was semi-productive with nine points and four boards, but that pales in comparison to what he was doing in the pre-season.
- The Bucks biggest problem defensively was their own offense. Getting shots blocked into transition buckets and getting up one bad shot leading to a long rebound will usually result in a defense that’s playing back on their heels. The Bucks were able to force 20 turnovers, but a lot of them were the Sixers own doing. The Bucks had just two blocks and seven steals.
- Andrew Bogut struggled offensively, but took a few charges and looked good on the defensive side. He didn’t have a great rebounding night, but didn’t allow many offensive boards to the Sixer big men either. He and Ilyasova look like their going to engage in a battle to see who can take the most charges this year.
- Free throws allowed were again a problem for the Bucks. The Sixers shot 29-34 from the line, giving them nearly as many free throw makes as field goal makes (32). This already looks to be a continuing theme for this year’s version of the Bucks, just like it was for last year’s version.
Obviously Friday was not a strong start. But it’s important to remember it’s just one game and it was on the road. The Bucks haven’t been strong on the road over the last few years and the Sixers have owned them over the past few years. Just like we shouldn’t be ready to anoint Jennings the best point guard in Bucks history, it would be premature to press the panic button.