Milwaukee Bucks 96 – Washington Wizards 88
Day in and day out, I preach on this site not to get too worked up by the pre-season. The Bucks don’t have their first unit together on the court yet, they’re being cautious and are playing players who won’t get a lot of time this season heavy minutes. It’s way too early to get overexcited about one thing or another, that’s what I’m always saying.
And then John Wall comes around and tips everything I’d been telling myself on its head. How can I not overreact when he comes out with stretches like this one Ben Golliver profiled at CBS Facts and Rumors.
Wall can be kind of a monster and does it so effortlessly. The difference between Brandon Jennings and Wall or even Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans is obvious on sight. Those guys have physical capabilities that Jennings just hasn’t displayed yet on the NBA level. We’ve only seen Jennings dunk once since entering the NBA; we saw more dunks than that tonight from Wall. Jennings is fast, but Wall is significantly more destructive with his speed. By the end of the first half, I was worried Jennings may not be cut out to compete with the John Walls of the world. That’s how good he looked.
I fell into the trap of overreacting.
Jennings missed a few more shots at the rim Thursday night and it seemed like we were back on the same slippery slope Jennings rode for the last four months last season. Wall was so good he made me overlook a few things.
I overlooked a few things though. I overlooked Jennings free throws. In the Bucks last three pre-season games, Jennings is averaging just 24 minutes a night, but has managed to hit 17 of 20 free throw attempts. For a guy who shot just over three per game last season, that’s a pretty significant improvement. Maybe this is Jennings answer to lacking the breathtaking athleticism of Wall or brute strength of Evans.
I overlooked a passing nature that wasn’t so blatant last season too. Repeatedly off pick and rolls with Drew Gooden, Jennings was looking for his rolling big man in a way he didn’t quite so often last season. When Jennings is acting as a playmaker and not looking for his own shot quite as much, he can be a very heady point guard. With all the talent that will be around him (eventually) this season, this is a role Jennings should be able to thrive in.
And what’s funny is that I’d told myself that late this off-season and heading into this pre-season. But John Wall made me forget all about that, just like he made me think the Wizards were going to win going away Thursday night.
So I guess I overreacted twice Thursday night.
- Gooden scored four baskets off Jennings assists in the first quarter and he was just getting started. They seem to already have a good chemistry on the pick and roll, something Jennings also developed quickly with Andrew Bogut last season. Gooden did everything everyone hoped he’d do for most of Thursday’s game. He did a great job getting to the line (7-7 on the evening) and was very sharp on his jumper. He ended up with 25 points and six rebounds on 9-15 shooting.
- If there is one player that could use the rest that an injury afforded him, it was Carlos Delfino. Delfino had his hands full this summer playing for Argentina and still looks to be in good form. Delfino had a lot to do with the Bucks better defense in the second half and was creating effectively. He finished with 19 points, five rebounds and two steals. Delfino struggled at the start of last season at times, but hopefully will be able to stay sharp all season now that he has no rust to shake off.
- Milwaukee’s defense was putrid in the first half. The Wizards scored 57 points and scored 22 points off turnovers. They looked to run constantly and did it effectively. Milwaukee was completely unable to keep up with them in transition and weren’t very effective in the half court either. Things changed in the second half though. The Bucks held Washington to just 31 second half points and were much more effective in bottling up John Wall, holding him to just seven points and three assists in the second half. Stopping Wall goes a long way towards stopping the Wizards.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts had an interesting game. He did everything he could to get to the rim on a number of occasions in the first half, but couldn’t finish a one of them. If CD-R isn’t finishing, he’s considerably less appealing a player to have on the court. Things started to go his way near the end of the game though and he had one steal taken coast to cost for a very nice and-1. He’s a little slow footed, so defensively it seems like CD-R is always going to have to battle for everything. He reaches and gambles, sometimes more than he should, but those might be habits he’ll work out in time. He still has the ability to score effectively. Hopefully he’s tapping into that enough to keep himself on the court.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter.