A win in the season opener? Serious: Bucks 99 – Celtics 88
A cool new banner and the formatting from last year will return. Just some technical stuff to work out. That being that, here is the box score from the Milwaukee Bucks season opening win over the Boston Celtics and the grades:
Ersan Ilyasova – B
Ilyasova took at least three charges and led the team in rebounding with 11. It was a very regular power forward night for him, minus the three he chucked in. He even found time for a patented Ilyasova, off balance offensive rebound make. His production was fairly consistent with what he did on a regular basis last season, which is all the Bucks are asking out of him. There’s enough on this team scoring wise that Ilyasova can get by on any given night with seven points, because the team has other options.
Tobias Harris – B+
Harris caught the ball in the post with Paul Pierce on him early in the first quarter. He worked hard to get a below average shot that had little chance of going in.
That would pretty much be the last time he forced the issue. 18 points on 8-11 shooting. Two threes too. This is the Tobias Harris that played so well in Summer League, only now he has much better teammates around him. A higher percentage converter on the wing next to him (higher than Carlos Delfino specifically) might really be something Jennings will enjoy.
Samuel Dalembert – C
Dalembert was brought in to be the starting center and help remake a Bucks defense that struggled last season. When he was acquired, the development of Larry Sanders was still VERY much up in the air, same with Ekpe Udoh, though possibly to a lesser extent.
If those two give the Bucks what they gave them Friday night, fairly invisible offensive nights from Dalembert won’t have anyone shedding tears.
Monta Ellis – C
Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. Friday, Ellis was 6-20 from the field because they didn’t.
Brandon Jennings – A-
Wow. Talk about answering doubts about yourself. This was like Jennings’ rookie opener all over again. Except better. Those 21 points and 13 assists came in just 29 minutes too.
Jennings had the ball in his hands a lot and looked to push the ball up the court pretty quickly when it was there. That’s a thing the Bucks did well in the second half last season and it looked good again Friday night. When he wasn’t pushing the ball, Jennings was doing plenty of shooting, passing and stealing. Milwaukee’s guards aren’t known for their defense, but their known for their gambling. The gambles were successful for Jennings on Friday, but we all know that’s not what we’re relying on Jennings to do.
The scoring and shooting accuracy is what people want to see nightly. 9-17 from the field? A season even approaching that will have citizens of Milwaukee all but erecting monuments in his name.
And the assists, goodness. He tied his career high, while turning the ball over just twice. Four of his assists went to Ellis, who had a rough shooting night. If he makes a few more jumpers, Jennings could have had some HUGE assist totals.
Larry Sanders – B
Dunks on dunks on dunks. Larry Sanders stayed in the paint and kept converting at the rim. It was everything everyone wants from Larry Sanders offensively. And he did the whole shot-blocking, quick moving thing on defense. The five fouls are a bummer, but it’s hard to argue with his night overall. He grabbed rebounds with some real energy and helped keep the Celtics off the glass, seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
Solid game from Slamders (Pretty slick, I know) who was 5-6 from within about a foot of the rim. One of his misses was a heave at the end of the second quarter. Bucks fans can live with that sort of freedom.
Ekpe Udoh – B-
SPIN MOVE IN THE POST. Ekpe surprised the hell out of me with a spin move in the fourth quarter on Kevin Garnett in the post. It was crazy, it was shocking and it was successful. At least, it was a goaltend on Garnett and two points for the Bucks. Ekpe tried again later and failed miserably with a spin move, but I applaud the effort.
Drew Gooden – C
DNP-CD. I sense most people are very excited about this development.
1. 46-36 rebounding edge for Milwaukee. Safe to say that was difficult to see coming after a difficult preseason played more in line with late last season that I ever would have expected. But that brings me to my next point …
2. Preseason: You mean nothing to me.
3. Defense is where it needs to happen for the Bucks this year. And defense is where it happened for them Friday night. 30 points for the Celtics in the first half and plenty of more defensive plays for Milwaukee in the second. When the Celtics “cut” the Bucks lead to 14 half way through the third quarter, Milwaukee rolled off six straight points, capping the mini-run with a forced turnover leading to a Monta Ellis fast break layup. That pretty much summarized the night.
4. The Bucks look like a team that’s been together for a while. It’s not like they’re some multi-season dynasty or anything, but compared to the last two variations of the Opening Night Milwaukee Bucks, these guys have been through it all. After pretty much completely remaking their roster before each of the last two seasons, the Bucks made virtually only one major addition this past summer, starting center Samuel Dalembert. So it makes sense this team looked a little more in sync than the club that dropped the opener to the lower than low Charlotte Bobcats last December. Good start.