Preseason is here! Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers Preview

Swish. Probably. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

I’m changing the Bucksketball game previews format. Spicing things up, making things pop and moving to a format with a free-form beginning that’ll address an issue of the game. That’ll be paired up with regular categories to keep things familiar. It’s still preseason, so the format is a work in process and I’d love if you guys could come up with fun category ideas like Cats that Look Like Drew Gooden that I could have in every preview.

Any readers who are upset with this, I apologize. But Scott Skiles makes predicting matchups on a game-to-game basis impossible. I’m just very tired of predicting Gooden will start, then Ersan Ilyasova starts at power forward and I look like a jerk. Here’s how impossible Skiles is with starting lineups:

Charles Gardner at the JS Bucks Blog:

And Bucks coach Scott Skiles answered “I might” when asked if the 20-year-old would be in the starting five for the team’s preseason opener against Cleveland on Tuesday night in Canton, Ohio.

This is stupid. What is Skiles expecting here? That he has some huge tactical advantage by acting coy about who’s going to be starting small forward. All coaches are jerks like this. I bet they all lay in bed cackling while they imagine the opposing team wetting themselves because of their covert tactics. “Oh no, you’re starting three guys who can dribble. We’re so unprepared! How will we ever adjust?”

You know who really suffers here? The bloggers.

The Bucks have two small forwards better suited to come off the bench. Last year, Skiles started Tobias Harris nine times to Mike Dunleavy’s three times. Harris struggled in all of his starts while Dunleavy was his usual super-sub self in those games.  This isn’t necessarily a question of sacrificing Harris to get great production out of Dunleavy or vice versa. A year older, Harris won’t necessarily struggle as a starter anymore. As a year passed, Dunleavy will probably regress, sooner than later.

Harris should be in the high post. If he shows even a slight aptitude for passing, then he’ll be devastating when paired with the cuts the Bucks used last season. If not, he’ll still get buckets. The problem is that Harris in the high-post (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it) cuts off dribble penetration which is big no-no when Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are on the court. Playing with Ellis and Jennings, Harris will be asked to space the floor and cut. Those are things that are much more apt for Dunleavy.

Start Dunleavy, bring Harris off the bench.

Choose the form of the Destroyer (or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Player of the Game)

I found a video of Jon Leuer highlights set to 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P. I’m not posting it because the song is inappropriate and this is a family site. But I can’t stop you from googling “Jon Leuer pimp.”

It makes no sense that as the Bucks amassed an army of power forwards, the odd man out was the cheapest guy with the best jump shot.  Now Kyrie Irving has a guy who can run the pick-and-pop and he has a third option off the pick-and-roll. Everyone is going to pay.

 Leuer’s percentages from 16-23, 10-15 and 3-9 feet away, respectively: 40, 44, 35. Larry Sanders from those same distances: 31, 15, 24. There’s going to be a sequence where Larry Sanders clanks a 15-footer off the rim and then Leuer responds with a lovely swish. This will happen about five times. I will be absolutely apoplectic.

Grasping for straws

There are too many good point guards. They all take turns lighting each other up. Today’s pick-and-roll heavy game makes point guard defense a team effort more than it used to be. The hand check rules stripped perimeter defenders of their most effective tool. So it’s questionable if one-on-one point guard defense is impactful or even possible.

All that said, Irving has to stop getting lit up and fouling people. In isolations, Irving allowed 0.99 points per possession. That’s significantly worse than the less than stellar defender Steve Nash.

Irving posts very Sanders-like personal foul numbers (for a point guard). Sanders fouls are because he really, really wants to impress. Other players foul because they simply don’t have the physical tools to keep up. Irving has the athleticism – that’s unquestionable. And his fouls never come as he’s trying to make a play. They’re usually in desperation since the play has passed him. Simply reacting sooner on defense will be a huge improvement for an already great player.

Or maybe he just lets guys score so he can do something nasty sooner.

Matchup of the Game

Samuel Dalembert vs. The Bucks offense

Everything that made last year’s Bucks offense good and wholesome and fun was enabled because they were a small team. Typically, adding a slow, traditional center to a smallball team makes things a lot less dynamic. If I remember correctly, the last time the Bucks had a true center, their offense made me question whether man was good.

Dalembert isn’t going to halt the Bucks offense like Andrew Bogut did. Bogut had to get 20 touches a game. And everyone had to stand completely still while he operated. Dalembert will never take that many touches, but he will restrict movement while not providing an equal return on offense.

Advantage: Dalembert

Ekpe Udoh All-Star Watch

Ekpe Udoh is currently tied for first in points, assists, steals, blocks and every other statistical category.

My favorite maxim about basketball: the team with the best player will usually win unless the supporting cast on the other team is significantly better. I probably heard this from a vagrant, but it seems about right.

Who has the best player? The Cavs

Who has the best supporting cast? The Bucks

Significantly better? Yes

Prediction: Bucks win. Tobias starts. I’m unhappy.

Categories: Game Previews

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    • NVM, lol, I forgot this was a pre-season preview. I just got caught up reading about the Bucks then all of the sudden Irving is brought up with the likes of Larry Sanders.

    • I’ll make different sections headlines bigger than normal text so we can avoid confusion in the future. Thanks!

  1. Why are u sad that Tobias harris will start? he seemed pretty good playing in the Summer League and he posted rather solid numbers in limited minutes last season.

    • Because Dunleavy’s skills fit better with being the third/forth option who is in the game to space out the floor. Then they can bring Harris in off of the bench and he can be the go to guy for the second, as he was for the Summer League team. This is not unlike how the Thunder use Harden.

  2. I don’t think summer league performance makes an argument for Harris to start. The case for Harris to start is Mbah A Moute’s absense and knowing that Dunleavy is better coming off the bench.

    Big erection for this coming season. Can’t wait