It’s Only Exhibition: Bucks 103 T’Wolves 117

In 2009, seeing no evil and hearing no evil does not prevent us from speaking about evil.  Not with all of our fancy forms of media these days.

The evil?  The Bucks first (kind of) loss of the year, a 117-103 drubbing at the hands of Minnesota in their exhibition opener.  Just over four thousand attended and virtually no one listened or saw outside of the arena as there was no radio or television coverage.  Perhaps they don’t allow cameras in Mankato.

Few things matter less than NBA exhibition games, the NFL and MLB warm-ups strike me as less important for the record, but they do still bare some relevance.  With that in mind it is disheartening to see the Bucks foul like an intramural league squad, especially after they practically spent all of last season doing the same thing.  But with seven new faces making their Bucks debut on Sunday it’s a whole new crew getting used to Scott Skiles defensive driven game plan.  The T’Wolves shot a whopping 56 free throws and made good on 50 of them.  Hopefully Skiles and staff will be able to corral the fouling before the last week of October this time.

On top of the foul trouble the Bucks were destroyed on the boards, 49-24.  A strong rebounding team last year, particularly before Andrew Bogut went down, the Bucks had loads of trouble keeping the beefy Minnesota front line off the glass.  Kevin Love and Ryan Gomes both had double doubles in less than 30 minutes of work each.  Losing that badly on the glass does not help a team that wants to run (more on that later).

What was done right (from looking at the box score)

Box scores can be mischievous, but looking at this one tells me just a few things.

  • Hakim Warrick was fairly active.  Warrick got to the line 15 times and converted successfully on 12 of those attempts.  Combine that with a tidy 6-8 effort from the field and we have an offensively productive 24 point effort in roughly 29 minutes.  Not bad numbers off the bench.  But remember all that talk about Hakim being a better rebounder?  Still a work in progressm, Warrick finished with five boards.
  • It seems every year during camp there is lots of talk about teams “being more uptempo” and “trying to get out and run”, usually it’s just lip service and stuff being said to fill up stories.  While that may be the case this year at the very least the Bucks did move faster this game than they typically did last year.  The Bucks Pace Factor was 101 after an average of roughly 92 last year.  That’s essentially a calculation of possessions per 48 minutes, and may be due to the fact that in the T’Wolves the Bucks played a team that has all the personnel of a running team, but it is worth monitoring.  For the Bucks to win they are likely going to need to get easy buckets in transition.
  • Brandon Jennings made his Bucks debut and chipped in 14 points on a team leading 15 shots.  Not sure if that’s quite what everyone has in mind for Jennings, but I suppose it’s good to see early aggression out of the rookie.
  • Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut were back on the court together in an actual game for the first time since January.  In a losing exhibition opener, it’s the little things that make you smile.

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