Giannis starting?: Bucks vs. Knicks Preview

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

When these two teams met on Opening Night, no one could have guessed that they would reunite under these circumstances. I don’t think anyone really expected the Bucks to be much good, but watching the Knicks fall apart since then has been stunning. Now they limp into the BMOBC without Raymond FeltonPablo PrigioniKenyon Martin, and likely Amar’e Stoudemire. In addition, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have been nursing knee injuries and Tyson Chandler will be playing in his first game back from a fractured fibula suffered in early November.

What to Watch For: Bucks

Adrian Wojnarowski, he of the #WojBomb breaking trade news, has #WojBommbed us in a different way Wednesday, announcing that Giannis Antetokounmpo potentially will move into the Bucks starting lineup. This isn’t too shocking, as an article from Charles F. Gardner at the Journal-Sentinel strongly hinted this move was nearing over the weekend. At any rate:

Giannis Celebrate
via Jon Hartzell, obviously

John Henson has been just about the only Buck making an impact in recent games and if Chandler is still limited he’ll have the chance to ply his trade against Andrea Bargnani, who is an absolutely wretched defender. I mean, he’s really, really bad on defense. Which is exactly the kind of remedy the Bucks need. But even a barrage of beautiful hook shots won’t provide enough firepower to push this team past the Knicks.

Someone else on the team needs to develop a consistent offensive presence. This would be a great time for O.J. Mayo to step up and start hitting shots like he did at the beginning of the season. Or for Brandon Knight to start developing into the drive-and-kick point guard we all want him to be. Or, failing those two things, some extended playing time for Miroslav Raduljica and a continuation of consistent minutes for Giannis. The Knicks are beat up and playing poorly, which represents an opportunity for the Bucks to regain some traction and start playing like an NBA team again.

What to Watch For: Knicks

Tyson Chandler is returning this evening, which will probably be a problem for an offensively inept Bucks team.

J.R. Smith has been doing some very J.R. Smith-esque things since returning from knee surgery and an early-season suspension. He doesn’t pass, doesn’t defend much…. no, J.R. prefers shooting. And he’ll take as many shots as possible, it seems. Even in a year when he’s shooting 33%, he’s finding ways to take over 11 shots per game, including almost six per game from the 3-point line. That’s probably a good thing as he’s actually better from 3 (34%!) than his overall shooting percentage.

Nevertheless, Smith has the ability to get hot seemingly at the drop of a hat and swing the course of a game. It may seem strange, but both the best and most terrifying scenarios for the Bucks involve Smith taking a large number of shots. If he eats up a large number of Knick possessions and shoots poorly, Milwaukee has a chance. If he makes those shots… yikes.

Oh, yeah. Carmelo Anthony. That guy can shoot the ball too. The best outcome for the Bucks involves forcing Smith and Anthony to hoist contested jumpers and hope that they don’t start making them.


Time – 7:00 PM Central

TV – FS-Wisconsin

Radio – 620 WTMJ

Injury Report

Bucks: Zaza Pachulia (right foot fracture; out), Caron Butler (sore left knee; out), Gary Neal (left foot plantar fasciitis; out), Larry Sanders (thumb; out), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out)

Knicks: Pablo Prigioni (fractured toe; out), Amar’e Staudamire (knees, differing opinions), Raymond Felton (hamstring; out)

Projected Lineups


PG Brandon Knight

SG O.J. Mayo

SF Giannis Antetokounmpo

PF Ersan Ilyasova

John Henson


PG Beno Udrih

SG J.R. Smith

SF Iman Shumpert

PF Carmelo Anthony

C Tyson Chandler

Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball)

Line: Knicks -3

Over/Under: 186.5

Short and sweet today: Knicks -3 and the under.

Record: 16-14 (6-9 ATS and 10-5 over/under)

Choose the Form of the Self-Destructor: Mike Woodson

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Dude can’t even manage his end-of-game timeout strategy any more.

I’m incredulous that Mike Woodson still has a job. So are a lot of Knicks fans. We’ll see how long he retains it.

Prediction: Knicks 95, Bucks 88

Categories: Game Previews

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  1. “Line: Bulls -3”

    Totally caught the Bulls line copy and paste job before editing… just wanted to point that out.

  2. Yikes! another dis of Khris, and something seems terribly amiss!
    I know Khris is not the darling of the Bucksketball staff, but to overlook him completely in favor of O.J., Brandon, Miroslav…?
    Although not having an effective point guard (Brandon looked suspiciously like a shooting guard against the Mavs), and being thrust into the midst of tumult and ineptitude, it seems to me that Khris has been (along with John and Giannis) a rare bright spot this year for the Bucks.
    Would we prefer — rather than Khris — a J.R. Smith, a Josh Smith, a Caron or Gary, someone who will shoot the ball no matter what? Meanwhile, we dismiss the unselfish guys like Khris and Tobias?
    I’m not saying that Khris is our next all-star, but why downplay him or even snub him so very early in the season, and so very early in his career?

      • Paragraph 4. Re: Consistent offensive presence.
        Maybe I’m a little oversensitive, but it seems like there has been a decided lack of a positive presence of Khris in the writings of the Bucksketball staff (not a total lack). Besides the aforementioned paragraph, see Ian’s latest piece.
        No hard feelings to you guys, but I just continue to sense a reluctance to show the guy much in the way of encouragement. If Giannis scores 15 points mostly in gargage time, he gets an entire article; if he makes a spectacular play, he gets a separate piece — and I kinda get that because he is really exciting and does look really promising (and I’m rooting for him, too, in a big way) — but he hasn’t done as much as Khris, at least not yet. Even Nate (and I’m rooting big time for him, as well) got an encouraging feature of late — and to me, he’s done much less than Khris, and has shown much less potential.
        Once again, maybe we just have to respectfully disagree on this one. I still like reading the opinions of all of you at Bucksketball.

        • Everyone loves to see Giannis highlights. That’s why we put up pieces dedicated to them. There’s little demand for Khris Middleton highlights. When he plays well, we certainly highlight him in recaps. I posted an entire preamble before a recent preview gushing about how well he’s played and how wrong I’ve been.

          But for the most part, he’s struggled a bit of late. Over his past five games he’s hitting fewer than 40% of his shots and scoring less than 10 points a game. But we haven’t really commented much on that, because players are going to have ups and downs. When he goes through another up, we’ll dig into it or if he keeps on a down, we’ll dig into it.

          • I did read the Recap where you gushed about Khris and admitted misjudgment on your part. We all get it wrong some of the time, and hope we’re right more often than not. I’m working on the fine line of being opinionated and also being humble.
            Anyway, we’re both probably rooting for all of the guys on the Bucks, and that’s a good thing to remember, and a good place of commonality for starting any dialogue.
            I really liked what I saw of Khris tonight against the Knicks; he seems to be the kind of competitor and team player we both can get behind — though he is still developing, including his offense off the dribble. Jon McGlocklin praised his defense on Carmelo.
            I’m guessing our major players were all gassed in the overtimes from monster minutes; maybe that accounted for some missed shots, but I also still wonder about our lack of a facilitator (again, I’m not ruling out Brandon at point guard; just want to try some extra help, as well).
            Anyway, Jeremy, thanks for the discussion and take care.

    • Because there’s not anything interesting that I thought of to say about him? He’s neither the bright spot (like Henson) nor the problem (like the other guys I called out). He’s played solidly if unspectacularly of late and that really doesn’t make the cut for what I was talking about. Trust me, I’m not “dissing” him, nor do I have some kind of agenda against him. Simply because we’re not talking about a player as much as you want doesn’t mean we have some kind of vendetta against that player.

      And frankly, if I (can’t speak for the others) seem to come off negatively about Middleton, it’s as a reaction to the increasing fetishization surrounding him. From what we know about him right now, he’s a solid player. To label him as anything more than a solid role player with starter potential right now just seems like projecting far too much. I personally feel like there are more interesting and relevant things to talk about at this point.

      • Fair enough… we can each have our opinion of different players, and I appreciate your comments, Mitch.
        I haven’t sensed that any of the staff at Bucksketball has a vendetta against Khris; nor have I sensed from fans on this site any fetishization around him.
        My hunch is that what people do like about Khris is that they see a very young guy with some nice skills and a good demeanor on the court. My impression is that fans on this site aren’t going overboard about Khris, just enjoying him as a pleasant surprise who maybe, just maybe, could go far in the NBA.
        Khris may not have as much raw physical talent as other players, but one of my points is not to forget about the quiet and unspectacular guys who don’t thrust themselves into the spotlight and who seem to be good character guys.
        For example, a guy like Carmelo is a headliner, but he would drive me crazy with all of his shooting, and there hasn’t been much in his career in terms of playoff victories. Then there’s Tobias… I don’t think people were negative about him last year; and most people were disappointed to see him get traded to a greater or lesser extent; but I do think that he was overlooked at least a little because he wasn’t flashy.
        Finally, to go back to another matter but briefly, I think guys like Khris and Tobias on the Bucks have been hindered the last couple of seasons for lack of a point guard who is adept at distributing the ball and directing the court. I know there might not be anyone out there at that position who catches the eye as a difference maker for this season, but I still think we should try someone to go along with Brandon who might make at least a little difference, and might surprise in the long run.

          • Well, just above, Jeremy said that you guys at Bucksketball do a lot of stuff on Giannis because that’s what people want. In the same way, if people bring up Khris alot, why not go with it and do some stuff on him, too, instead of reacting negatively?
            I get it that Giannis is an incredible athlete with tons of upside and a special charisma — probably way more so than Khris — but, then again, there’s no guarantees for any of our young guys to become stars.
            Larry, John, Brandon, Khris, Giannis, Nate… all are works in progress, and all have a long ways to go to make it big in the NBA. Here’s hoping they all do so! What I’m happy about is that all of them seem like good guys and team players.
            I’m not saying there should be equal coverage for Khris and Giannis; but, please don’t neglect the quiet and solid types who can add a lot to a team, and especially not when they’re so young and might have more star power than meets the eye.

    • Do we want Jabari? I feel like Jabari would play a very similar position to Giannis..I think Wiggins, Smart or Exum would be the most beneficial picks for Milwaukee…anyone else have other thoughts?

      • Jabari is a flat out scorer which we need. We need a closer. We can make Parker and Giannis work together on the wings. Wiggins is talented but doesn’t seem to be all in.

        • I agree. Parker over Wiggins. But rather having them both with Middleton (or Mayo, whoever is better) on the perimeter. So that means one of them (Jabari/Giannis) is playing/defending the point.

          I believe they will be All-Stars minimum.

          Sorry Middleton fans, he is good but not special, and stop being so defensive about it.

          Bucks Dream Team
          Jabari Parker
          Giannis Antetokounmpo
          (fill-in your favorite buck player)
          John Henson
          Larry Sanders