Monday Night NBA Action- Bucks vs Nets Preview
The 3-2 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 3-3 Brooklyn (New Jersey/Jay-Z) Nets Monday night in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. This is the first time these two teams have played this season. The game will be on Bally’s Sports and on NBA TV. (My Bally’s Sports Plus better finally work!)
Milwaukee is sorta muddling along here at 3-2. The Home Opener against the 76ers was a fun win. Then the loss to Atlanta was pretty ugly. This is a very different team from last year. Gone are the days with an emphasis on defense and rebounds. Instead, we now have a team where the fans, the opponents, NBA on-lookers, and even the kids I coach for my kid’s 3rd-grade rec team wonder, “When are Giannis and Dame going to run a bunch of pick-n-rolls?”
That moment still remains to be unseen.
The party’s over in Brooklyn. The Nets appear to now be in rebuild mode.
Because the Nets were playing so well before they started trading everyone last season they still made the playoffs. They then were swept in the first round by the 76ers. (4-0) But it was no surprise to anyone here that the Nets, and so many Eastern Conference teams in fact did implode.
Milwaukee Bucks Keys to Victory
Play like you have Dame Lillard
Lillard needs to shoot more.
Milwaukee and the guys on the team seem to forget that they do, in fact, have Damian Lillard on their team. Lillard is one of the 75 greatest NBA players of all-time.
I was blessed to be able to be at Friday’s game. The offensive sequences almost always went something like this: Lillard brings it up, passes it off to Giannis or Beasley, they pass to someone else who then shoots. Lillard would stand there, wide open and everyone would kinda wonder why is Brook Lopez or Patty C. or Crowder (who did have a good game) shooting and not Damian Lillard?
There was a sequence in the 3rd quarter when Lillard had two shots in a row. Both went in. Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau immediately called timeout to try to get Milwaukee to forget that having Lillard shoot the ball like that is a really good idea.
The Bucks did seem to forget. Lillard shot twice in a row, again, to close out the game. The Bucks won.
Lillard would routinely take more than 20 shots a game last year for Portland. (He also did that in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 season.) This season he is averaging 14 shots a game. Lillard needs to shoot more.
Milwaukee led the NBA last year in team rebounding with 48.6 rebounds a game.
This season they are second to last in the NBA and average 39 team rebounds a game.
That is a huge difference. Why isn’t Milwaukee controlling the glass like they have in the past? As guys continue to learn their roles, they must improve at rebounding the ball. They barely average 30 defensive boards a game. They need to box out. They all need to create missed shots to generate rebounds.
This team rebounding stat will be an interesting one to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Overcome the home court advantage?
It has been fun researching if the Nets, do in fact, get any type of home court advantage. Similar to So-Fi stadium in LA, rumors abound that the Barclay’s center can be quiet as a church mouse. The Nets have never had a tremendous advantage there, record-wise.
The Nets were fine at home last season 23-18, but playing at the Barclays has never seemed like much of an advantage for them. Ever. If the Bucks can get off to a fast start, they should be able to negate any advantage even more.
The Opponent: The New-Look Brooklyn Nets
I know at the beginning of this piece we poked fun at Jay-Z owning the Nets. He sold his share of the team back in 2015 for a TON of money.
The Nets are in a little bit of a rebuilding mode. But the Eastern Conference isn’t as strong or as powerful as the west so they still could make the playoffs. They have some decent players. They are also coached by Jacque Vaughn, the former University Kansas point guard who could flat-out play.
Mikal Bridges can play. He is long, lean, and can score. Acquired in the Kevin Durant trade, he could truly blossom this season into an NBA star.
Cam Thomas is having a great start to his season. On pace to average a career high 26 points per game, Thomas is the starting shooting guard for the Nets. He is playing a ton- 33 minutes a game- and doesn’t turn the ball over much (less than a turnover a game).
Ben Simmons is back. However for the game he is listed as a “game time decision”.
Cam Johnson is off to a slower start. He plays but hasn’t scored a ton yet (12.0 per game) Also, it was rumored that Johnson taking over the starting small forward role in Phoenix was the reason Jae Crowder sat out with the Suns.
Spencer Dinwiddie is the new-”old” point guard. (He is on his second stint with the Nets.) He can play.
Nic Claxton mans the middle but has been injured to start the year. He is out with an injured ankle.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- It is always worth remembering game seven of the Nets playoffs series in June of 2021. Clink glasses and be thankful that Durant has such a big foot (size 18) and that shot only counted as a two. What a game!
- Ben Simmons is playing again. He leads the Nets in Rebounding (10.0) and Assists (7.2). He is in pretty exclusive company: Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic also lead their team in rebounding and assists.
- Follow me on Twitter at @authorrudylb and check out my other writings at www.rudylb.com. Follow us at @WiSportsHeroics for all things Wisconsin sports. Also, check out our merch store for some amazing WSH merchandise!