The Milwaukee Bucks so overmatched the Detroit Pistons, I found myself saying at the end of the third quarter, “There’s another quarter of this?” Milwaukee was up 95-72 at the time. More of the same would go on in the fourth quarter and the Bucks found themselves with a very comfortable 108-91 victory. Again, they looked largely cohesive, though they did turn the ball over quite a bit more than they did in their opening game in Cleveland.
Basically though, through two preseason games, Milwaukee’s had the look of a team that’s addressed all of its offseason problems without detracting from anything that they did well last season. Let’s just cancel the rest of this preseason and get the regular one started while things are still going so smooth.
Saturday was another balanced affair. Six players scored in double figures, the bench contributed 48 of the Bucks 108 points and every player that played more than five minutes scored.
As far as what’s going the smoothest of all: BLOCKED SHOTS! Through two games, the Bucks have blocked 25 shots. 12.5 per game. Last year, they averaged just over five blocks per game. This isn’t a defensive cure all, but it certainly should help Milwaukee improve as a defensive group. Larry Sanders starting for Samuel Dalembert, blocked five, and rookie John Henson had four. Many of them lead to fast breaks, many of those led to baskets. If this team was fast last season, they could be blazing this one, so long as those blocks lead to Milwaukee getting back the ball.
Scott Skiles was realistic, but optimistic about the shot-blocking on Saturday.
“Not going to have 14 blocks very often, but we’ll take it,” he said. “We relied almost exclusively on Bogues (Andrew Bogut) to protect the rim for us and now we have multiple guys, and Ekpe (Udoh) didn’t even play for us tonight and neither did Joel (Przybilla). Two other guys that can block shots and protect the paint. So we definitely have plenty of guys taht can do that and then the other guys take charges.”
“And I feel like our perimeter defense was good. Most of our blocks tonight came on busted plays and then we just kind of hustled and knocked out a shot. It wasn’t so much that we let them penetrate all over the place.”
- It’s cool to see the aforementioned Henson make long jump shots. It was cool to see him cross over Andre Drummond on a take to the hoop too. But it’s way more important to see Henson block shots and rebound. Those are the things Henson is going to have to do on a nightly basis. The shooting and the ball-handling, that’s just icing on the Henson cake. If he does those things, they’re a bonus. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t really detract from the Henson package. But the shot-blocking and re bounding, those are the necessities. Milwaukee needs Henson to finish possessions defensively. For the most part, he did a good job of that Saturday night, but you can see, especially as far as the rebounding goes, he’s got some room for growth there.
- Also, someone at the end of the game yelled to Henson on the free throw line, “Way to go Henson! Thanks for the Muppets!” That wasn’t all the clever, or accurate, but it did make me chuckle. Hopefully it did the same for you.
- Ersan Ilyasova scored 18 points in the third quarter after scoring four in the first half. He did so by running the court for easy baskets, tipping in an offensive rebound, finishing in the half court and hitting a three. In other words, Ilyasova did everything that he did last season. Last season looked like his previous seasons, but much better, leaving people like me to wonder if he’d be able to replicate it. So far, so good.
- Brandon Jennings – picture of efficiency. 17 points on six of nine shooting. All those shots and all those points came in the first half. In the third quarter he dished out six assists. Points early, passes late, success everywhere.
- Dalembert only played nine minutes, but he played really well in all nine of them. 5-6 from the field, 2-3 from the line. A couple of dunks and four rebounds too. He delivered a hard foul when Charlie Villanueva went in for a dunk, the kind of foul we never saw from Bucks big men not named Drew Gooden last year. Don’t get me wrong, we saw plenty of fouls from them, but few were as authoritative as this. Plus he boxed out in a way that many of the Bucks young bigs struggled to do.
- Alando Tucker! Two points for the former Badger in his debut as a Buck.