This Veteran’s Day, the Milwaukee Bucks will be taking on the San Antonio Spurs. This inter-conference matchup is the first of two meetings between two teams who are seemingly playoff bound.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been streaky to begin the season. After starting off 4-0, San Antonio dropped four straight games, only to rebound and win three straight going into Friday. The Spurs are looking to continue their current success in the absence of forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Tony Parker, led by forward LaMarcus Aldridge, center Pau Gasol and forward Rudy Gay.
LaMarcus Aldridge is the anchor on offense, averaging 22.6 points per game. Aldridge is also making his size known, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game and 1.3 blocks per game. Pau Gasol offers the same presence that Aldridge does in size, averaging 8.2 rebounds per game and 1.5 blocks per game himself. The most important factor to the Spurs success so far, however, is forward and sixth man Rudy Gay. Gay is averaging 13.5 points per game coming off the bench, and is making it obvious that he has recovered from his previous achilles injury. As always, the Spurs play great team basketball, and focus their game on solid defense under head coach Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs’ biggest concern against the Bucks is going to be on defense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an early favorite for MVP, and for good reason. His size and scoring ability is going to be difficult for San Antonio to stop, especially without the services of two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. Another struggle the Spurs will have to work around is Milwaukee’s acquisition of guard Eric Bledsoe. This will be Bledsoe’s first game with the Bucks, and the extent of his involvement on offense for Milwaukee will remain unknown until tonight. The Spurs will have to focus on contributions from their bench, mainly Rudy Gay, in order to win against the Bucks Friday.
The Bucks started off the season hot. Milwaukee began the season with a 3-1 start, headlined by dominant performances by forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Though Antetokounmpo continues to lead the Milwaukee offense, the Bucks have had issues finding a true second option on offense. For the time being, that second option has been Khris Middleton, averaging 19.1 points per game. However, this average is deceiving, given that Middleton will often score less than 15 points, balanced out by occasional big performances, like the 43 point performance Middleton had against the Charlotte Hornets.
The Bucks have a lot to look forward to this game, with the debut of guard Eric Bledsoe. A look into how Milwaukee acquired him can be found here:
Bledsoe is an explosive point guard who has ability driving to the basket and distributing the basketball. Though his passing ability will be appreciated, the strong possibility of Bledsoe becoming a viable second scoring option is huge for Milwaukee. The Bucks will also take great pride in Bledsoe’s defense, something much of the Milwaukee team lacks.
Milwaukee’s biggest concern against the Spurs will be how their second unit matches up. The Bucks have depth issues, lacking a true sixth man on the bench. To go along with that, the Eric Bledsoe trade saw the loss of forward Greg Monroe, arguably the Bucks’ biggest contributor on the bench. This depth issue will become especially difficult with the presence of Rudy Gay, a constant scoring threat off the bench for San Antonio. Another struggle for the Bucks will be adjusting the offense to accommodate Eric Bledsoe. This adjustment could either go really well, where fans will see the Milwaukee offense truly click. On the other hand, the adjustment could come with a lot of growing pains, and the offense will struggle in trying to find a good distribution in scoring.
This game should be very interesting. The debut of Eric Bledsoe and Milwaukee’s adjustment on offense should be a sight to see. However, the Spurs have it together right now, and the lack of depth on the Bucks bench will be their downfall as the Spurs should take this game, barring another MVP performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo, which is more than possible.
When is the Game?