What to Watch For: Bucks (11-11)
On Sunday night after a rocky game against the Mavericks, Jason Kidd called his team out for a lack of effort in the 125-102 loss.
“We didn’t play hard tonight. The one thing we’ve laid our hat on is coming out and playing hard the first 21 games. When you look around the league and you hear people talk about the Bucks, the first thing they say is we play hard. We didn’t do that.”
Things aren’t going to get any easier schedule-wise for the Bucks as they’re only beginning a seven-game Western Conference road trip. Now we’ll get an early indication of the character of the team (and its coach) as they respond to their first real spot of adversity. As KL noted in his Bucks-Mavericks recap, one of the hallmarks of Larry Drew’s tenure with the team was a repeated emphasis on improving effort without any real results. Now we’ll see what Kidd can draw out of his team for a particularly tough stretch.
The last time these two teams lined up, the Thunder shot a miserable 33% from the floor and, outside of a bright showing by Reggie Jackson, looked exactly that bad. But this isn’t the same Thunder team. Defensively, the team will have its hands full with all-NBA scorer Kevin Durant and general wild man Russell Westbrook. After a strong start to the season, the Bucks have now given up more than 107 points in 4 of their last 5 games, a streak that will continue if they don’t figure something out against a now-potent Thunder lineup.
What to Watch For: Thunder (7-13)
Well, Durant is back. So is Westbrook. While a brief look at the standings would make you think this Thunder team isn’t anything to write home about, they’re gearing up to make a run at a Western Conference playoff spot now that they’re back to full strength.
Russell Westbrook is a player you should watch, because he’s such a ridiculous amount of fun. Questioning Westbrook’s “point-guardiness” has basically been a part-time job for anyone who watched the NBA in the last several years, but I can’t help but feel like that overlooks the point. When you have a player that can do this:
In his FIRST GAME BACK from injury, you just sit back and enjoy it. Unless you’re on the other team. Then, uhhhhh….
Good luck defending it.
The Bucks will need all the luck they can get, especially because Durant and Serge Ibaka will also be lurking. Did I forget to mention them as well?
Time – 7:00 p.m. CST TV – FS-Wisconsin Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova (nasal fracture; out); John Henson (foot; out); Damien Inglis (post-surgery — right ankle; out);Johnny O’Bryant (right knee sprain; out)
Thunder: Mitch McGary (foot; out); Perry Jones (knee; out)
Bucks: Brandon Knight – O.J. Mayo – Jabari Parker – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Larry Sanders
Thunder: Russell Westbrook – Andre Roberson – Kevin Durant – Serge Ibaka – Steven Adams
Choose the Form of the
Moustache Destructor: Steven Adams
I feel like not enough players in the NBA today have great moustaches. Adams and rookie Spencer Dinwiddie of the Detroit Pistons have both given me hope that we might yet see a resurgence of strong facial hair, but I’d love to see more players pick this up.
The other thing for which Adams has gained a reputation is being an annoyance to opposing big men. So it will be worth keeping an eye on the matchup between Adams and Sanders to see who loses their cool first. I’ve got my suspicions about who will take the first swing, especially if things start going sideways for the Bucks.