Milwaukee Bucks vs Knicks Regular Season Game Preview
The (2-2) Milwaukee Bucks take on the (2-3) New York Knicks Friday Night in downtown Milwaukee at the beer keg. This is the third time this season these teams have played. This will also be the first time the Bucks Franchise has ever played in the NBA regular season tournament. This is the first ever NBA In-Season Tournament. It is anyone’s guess how it will all go. Some critics have said teams will “blow it off”; others have said it’ll add excitement to what can feel like a long NBA regular season. That the excitement will be similar to the NCAA March Madness tournament.
In this space what matters more is the slower start compared with last year the Bucks are going through. It can be tough out there! This was a franchise that started the season last year with a “perfect October” going 6-0 and looking unstoppable with a 16 game win streak in January and February. Now, many fans are worried this team won’t win 50 games.
Patient fans understand, with a new coach and a new star, all of this will take time; impatient fans and impatient “Bucks Twitter” wants head Coach Adrian Griffin fired and Brook Lopez traded, along with Jack Sikma coming back to run the show?!
Vegas has the Bucks at a 61% chance to win this game against the Knicks and 5.5 point favorites. This is a game the Bucks should win. A win will help them continue through “group play” for the new tournament format. If the Bucks do well in “group play” they can then advance to the “knockout round”. They could still lose and stay “in”. But it’d be better to win.
Keys for the Milwaukee Bucks
Get stops on defense
Milwaukee can play defense, they just aren’t playing well right now. They kept opponents under 100 points twelve times last season. For the Milwaukee Bucks, good defense triggers an attacking, three-point shooting offense led by Lillard and Middleton. Milwaukee needs to get stops against the Knicks. There must be a renewed focus on playing defense for this team to win games.
Effort is a big part of playing good defense. What hopefully will help the Bucks in this game against the Knicks is traditionally, New York can play “slow footed”. If Milwaukee Buck defenders can beat guys to their spot, this game could get out of hand.
Run an Effective Pick N Roll
Milwaukee just does not seem to be running this play very much. Unlike football where you have eleven moving players in the NBA, the pick-n-roll can be a play that works to a huge advantage. Because teams rarely attempt to play zone defense, most teams just need to get three guys out of the play and run two players at the defense.
Lillard averaged 32.2 points per game last season; Giannis averaged 31.1. To think that two players could routinely score 60+ for the team on a nightly basis is profoundly scary for the rest of the NBA. There is always talk of the “big three” or “big four” even, but Milwaukee’s “big 2” could really wreak ruination on NBA defenses via the pick n’ roll.
If Giannis and Lillard run more than 8 or 9 truly effective pick n’ rolls, that might be lights out for New York (and the league). It is a simple and effective play. Let’s imagine they can generate 15-20 easy points off it. That puts a ton of pressure on opposing defenses. Right now they seem to barely run it at all.
The Opponent- The Knicks
The Knicks have already played Cleveland twice and split the games losing at home but beating the Cavs on the road. Tom Thibodeau is still the coach of New York.
The Knicks have some good players. Jalen Brunson has been a better than advertised addition. He is second on the team in scoring 20.6 points per game. He is a floor general who attacks the basket.
RJ Barrett is also off to a good start. He is leading the Knicks in scoring with 21.0 points per game.
Julius Randle is another good player, but his season is not off to as fast of a start as Brunson’s or Barrett’s has been. Interestingly enough Randle leads the team in assists with 5.2 a game. However, because of a couple of “cold shooting games” he is only averaging 13 points a game.
The Knicks added former Buck Donte DiVincenzo over the offseason. He is averaging 8 points a game and 20 minutes per game. He is not playing a ton but he is playing.
Things to tell your buddies while you are watching the game
- Donte DiVincenzo was the 18th overall pick for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2018 draft. He played his college ball at Villanova.
- The Bucks beat the Knicks on Oct. 28th last year at home 119-108. Let’s replicate that for this game.
- During the regular season, the 2022-23 Milwaukee Bucks went 3-2 in overtime games.
- The Milwaukee Bucks finished the regular season with a 58-24 record. They went 32-9 at home and 26-15 on the road. Including the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks went 59-28. Their final game was a loss in the Eastern Conference First Round to the Miami Heat.
- Over 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. Adios!
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