The daily, who’s going to be able to play and who isn’t going to be able to play game has yet to finish for the Milwaukee Bucks. At last report, Caron Butler would be out Friday night and probably for a few games after that. As for the rest of the (not) walking wounded on the Bucks roster:
Luke Ridnour: Game time decision
Brandon Knight: Out
Zaza Pachuila: In
Gary Neal: In
Ersan Ilyasova: Out
Carlos Delfino: Out
Larry Sanders: Out
So if you like watching young, inexperienced NBA players learn what it’s like to play against the league’s best defense, then you’re in for a treat on Friday. The Bucks rotation should feature plenty of Nate Wolters, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and even Miroslav Raduljica. And when I say the league’s best defense, I’m not speaking in hyperbole. The Pacers lead the league in defensive rating, allowing just 92.3 points per 100 possessions per Basketball-Reference.com.
What to Watch For: Bucks
More Giannis. The exciting rookie said he was excited when he got to match-up against LeBron James in Miami, not that it went overly well for him, or anyone else on the Bucks Tuesday night. He’ll probably be equally as excited to face Pacers star Paul George, who’s tallied a Lebron-like PER of 25.7 through eight games this season. George appeared to be taking a leap forward in the playoffs last year and he’s carried that over this season.
Giannis, physically, seems like the player most capable of giving George an issue, especially sans Butler on the wing for Milwaukee, but the Bucks rookie’s understanding of where he’s supposed to be and what he’s supposed to do on defense appear significantly behind his athletic prowess. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how featured Giannis will be on Friday.
Also watch Middleton, who has played pretty well as a small ball four, especially on offense. He’ll have to shift down to the wing full time without Butler now, so it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up under more extensive minutes, with even more responsibility.
What to Watch For: Pacers
When Zach Lowe over at Grantland writes about something, I’ve learned to pay attention. He knows what he’s talking about, not because he’s some sort of genius or predictive savant, but because he watches the hell out of everything NBA and knows what questions to ask and how to break down film. If there’s a tendency a team has, he’ll pick up on it. If there’s a player that’s under the radar of most, he’ll find him. If there’s someone maturing as a player on the court, he’ll alert the rest of us.
He put out a notice regarding Lance Stephenson on Thursday. In Lowe’s words, he’s playing like “a point guard with killer 3-point range.” Unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, Stephenson is a powerful 6-foot-5 wing. Stephenson posted his first career triple-double on Monday and seems primed for a monster year heading into free agency. Given Milwaukee’s dire health situation on the perimeter, Stephenson may be a big problem Friday night.
Everyone on the Bucks is hurt except for Bango and Jim Paschke.
Pacers: Danny Granger (calf/illness; out)
PG: Nate Wolters
SG: OJ Mayo
SF: Khris Middleton
PF: Ekpe Udoh
C: Zaza Pachuila
PG: George Hill
SF: Paul George
PF: David West
C: Roy Hibbert
Choose the Form of the Destructor:
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) November 13, 2013
GET YOUR BOARDGAMES OUT OF ROY HIBBERT’S FACE. He rejects them with the same ferocity he attacks basketballs shot by players not on the Indiana Pacers.
Through eight games, Hibbert is averaging 4.4 blocks per game and sending backwards 10.9 (!!) of shots taken while he’s on the court. Those numbers are better than what even Larry Sanders did last season. When opponents are able to get off a shot, they aren’t finding much success either, as we learned earlier today when Preston dropped SportVu knowledge all over our heads.
Pacers 98 – Bucks 82