1. Well it appears that the Eric Bledsoe era has gotten off to a promising start for the Milwaukee Bucks as he poured in 13 points to go with 7 assists in his debut with the Deer. On Tuesday, Bledsoe was traded to the Bucks in exchange for Greg Monroe and a pair of picks in a move that has seemingly jumpstarted a surprisingly stagnant Milwaukee team up to this point. In his first game against a big time opponent he meshed well immediately and probably most importantly appears to match well with their star player.
With Bledsoe, the Bucks ran some very interesting rotations credit to coach Jason Kidd. The one that struck me the most included Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon. It proved to be a perfect foil against the smallish Spurs lineups. This trio in particular defended incredibly and gave the normally stout San Antonio defense fits as they found it nearly impossible to defend three facilitators (27 assists on 41 field goals) and contend with Giannis at the same damned time. I am curious to see how commonplace this grouping will become in the future because it surely worked like gangbusters last night.
2. While this served as a proper introduction for their new addition this was still Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo’s show. Finding instant chemistry with Bledsoe as evidenced by being the recipient of a first quarter alley oop Freak took full advantage of San Antonio’s lack of interior defense to the tune of 28 points on 50% shooting. As good as LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay has been playing they were clearly outmatched time and time again when tasked with containing him. Giannis was also a force defensively as he snagged 12 boards and swatted 4 shots.
Another big night from the Freak was absolutely a plus yet I was far more impressed with the balanced play of the Bucks. Khris Middleton was solid finishing with 13 and 8 in 38 minutes and John Henson really impressed with a line of 10-7-6 with a pair of blocks. As mentioned earlier Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon we’re effective AF. The M&Ms chipped in 9 points a piece along with defending remarkably with Brogdon pulling down 7 boards to boot. If tonight is a glimpse into what is to be expected by the new look Bucks I definitely expect to keep hearing them mentioned as challengers for Eastern Conference crown.
3. While this was not a complete dud of a performance there are definitely a few things that can be identified as factors in this loss. First thing that jumped out at me was how uncharacteristically callous the Spurs were with the basketball as they coughed up the ball a surprising 18 times. Rudy Gay had an off game which has been a rarity in his short tenure as a Spur with 6 points on 3 of 12 shooting (and he continuously looked helpless defending Giannis). Also, the three ball didn’t fall for them hitting only 9 of their 29 attempts a far cry from their 36% make rate thus far.
There was some good here. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to look great leading the Spurs sans Kawhi Leonard. His 20 and 12 with 4 assists and 2 blocks put the Spurs on track to pull out a tough win. Manu Ginobili gave us shades of 2010 him dropping a season high 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting and Kyle “Slo Mo” Anderson continues to grow into his role getting a 10 and 10 double double.
This was a game that could have gone either way but the concern is that a large part of Spurs lore shows that they are far more often than not on the right side of these contests. With two vital parts of their operation out there’s no need to panic of course but in what is already shaping up to be another wild season out West it would help to be in a good position when they come back.