Tipoff: 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
TV: CSN Bay Area.
Records: Warriors 10-2, Bucks 5-6.
Blog Buddy: Brew Hoop
Fresh off their 104-88 drubbing of the Boston Celtics (recap here), the Golden State Warriors (10-2) head into Milwaukee for today’s game against the (5-6) Milwaukee Bucks. Even though the game against Boston was relatively mild, this will still be the Warriors’ 3rd game in four nights, and with the Pacers coming up on Monday, it’s fairly likely that Kerr will rest a Warrior or two (but no announcements have yet been made). These teams split the series last year (going 1-1), but the matchup sticks out a bit because the Bucks handed the Warriors their first loss of the season last year, ending the record-setting 24-0 start to the season.
The records may be different this year, but the set-up is the same, with the Warriors coming in off a back-to-back in Boston the night before and hoping for a win. Only this time, the Warriors have even more elite talent on the wings and are likely to come in with a chip on their proverbial shoulder.
Warriors hitting their stride
After a somewhat slow start, the Warriors have reeled off six straight wins and are starting to hit their stride as a team now. In case you missed it, the Warriors put the Celtics away with a 31-9 3rd quarter last night, showing one of our first extended glimpses of what this team can be. I know it’s the Celtics – who are struggling offensively without two of their key players right now - but any time you can hold an entire team to 12.5% shooting for an entire quarter it bodes well for you. The Warriors #1 league offense can hold its own, but when they string it together on both ends, the full firepower of this roster is on display. Looking at the gameflow now, it is rather telling that we are all overlooking the dominant 21-2 run at the end of the 2nd quarter but such is life when talking about this iteration of the Warriors.
“To stay locked in like that the entire quarter was also another things we’ve been talking about. We’ve been getting 16- and 17-point leads the last four or five games – and blowing the lead. We said tonight we wanted to protect the lead and continue to raise it. And we did that.”
These are the types of moments that have helped coach Steve Kerr be the fastest coach in history to get 150 wins (it only took him 176 games!).
What the… Zaza “dance” break!
I am torn here. Part of me wants this awkward dance to become his “thing,” like the Merton Hanks big bird floppy neck dance, just embrace the weirdness. The rest of me is a rational human that hopes for this dance to never be seen in public ever again! My love for our pedestrian centers is no secret around here, so none of you should be surprised when I say that Zaza is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch.
Bucks recent struggles
Although this Bucks team is struggling through two straight losses, and a subpar record overall, that didn’t stop them from beating us last year. The Bucks are an odd team on paper. Coach Jason Kidd has one of the most intriguing players in the NBA on his roster, and has taken to using Giannis Antetokounmpo in a number of ways and at multiple positions. Paired with rim-attacking dynamo Jabari Parker, this team has essentially abandoned the three ball. Some of this is necessitated by injury, since Khris Middleton (their leading three point shooter last season) has been unavailable all season due to injury, but whatever the cause, the contrast in style will be evident. The Bucks rebound well, but are nearly dead last in three point shooting percentage; the Dubs are almost the polar opposite. It should be noted that the Bucks themselves are coming in off of a back to back on the road, having lost to the Miami Heat before heading back home. I’ve been told that the first home game in a situation like this is akin to another road game, but what do I know? I’m a 40 year old with a belly, not some spry, young, professional athlete.
What to watch for
Look for some interesting matchups in this game as both teams have an abundance of players that can play multiple positions. For me? I’m most excited for a small ball center matchup between Draymond Green and Antetokounmpo. Steph Curry played heavy minutes last night (over 37) and didn’t play great, but that is unlikely to prevent him from going off tonight since he hasn’t strung together two bad games all season long. Another fun factor tonight will be the emergence of Patrick McCaw. The young rookie played over 20 minutes last night and has pretty clearly supplanted Ian Clark on the depth chart. Given the length of this Bucks roster, it is likely we see even more of McCaw this evening.
Also, watch for Kevin Frickin’ Durant. In spite of what the shirts they were selling in Boston would tell you, this man has been absolutely dominating so far.