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Preview: Green, Livingston out as Warriors host Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is a monster on the court, but he and Milwaukee will have to keep up with Kevin Durant and Golden State on both ends if they hope to win in Oakland.

After a couple of days off, the Golden State Warriors blessedly return to the world to remind us of what beauty is. We’ve got a good one coming up — the Warriors are missing a couple of key players, and the young Milwaukee Bucks team is coming in hungry to prove they belong among the elite after getting crushed in Portland.

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

When: 7:30 p.m. PST - Thursday, November 8, 2018

Where: Oracle Arena — Oakland, California

How to watch: TNT, CSNBA

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Blog Buddy: Brew Hoop

Injury bug may force Kevin Durant into a role at Center

They’ve been playing well, so we’ve all chuckled our way (mostly) through early season dings. But the Warriors have really begun to pile up injuries. Shaun Livingston has only appeared in four of eleven games so far, and Demarcus Cousins is out indefinitely.

Andre Iguodala, seems to be back in action after a one game vacation, but won’t entirely be able to make up for the absence of Draymond Green. The problem with Green’s absence is that our opponent features one of the few guys that the Warriors struggle against, Giannis Antetokounmpo. And given the shorter rotations with all of the injuries, I’d like to point out an issue with our fouling — specifically as it relates to players who we may need to fill in down low:

Many, many fouls

Now, there are some correlation issues (because post players tend to pick up more fouls), but you can see that a lot of the guys Golden State may want to slot in the middle are foul magnets. Unless they can stay out of foul trouble, this likely means that we are going to get some Durant at Center. Given our opposition, this could be really fun if it works out — and equally not-fun if it doesn’t.

Either way, the matchup between Durant and Antetokounmpo is going to be something you’ll want to see. Both are incredibly skilled, unique players. While Durant isn’t known for his defense, he is certainly capable on that end. Both players thrive in transition which will almost certainly provide some nice highlights in both directions.

”They’re very similar to four years ago here”

-Stephen Curry on the Bucks

A revamped system

Four years ago, the Warriors switched coaches and brought in Steve Kerr’s free flying scheme. Switch everything, run fast, and spread out. No more isolation plays because now it’s all about movement off the ball. The Warriors instantly went from the worst passing team in the NBA, to the best, and their offense (and defense) exploded right along with it.

Under new coach Mike Budenholzer the Bucks have reworked their isolation offense into a Warriors-esque run and gun system. With a three point shooting center in Brook Lopez (someone the Warriors reportedly had their sights set on last summer) and adaptable wing players in Kris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, the team has looked much more dangerous offensively — at least so far in this young season.

In addition to all the players listed above, Stephen Curry’s nemesis, Matthew Dellavedova, is on this team. Good ol’ Fat Jimmy. They are a very good team playing extremely well.

The league at large has begun to adopt the Warriors model — or at least, try. You see, not every team has the personnel to run something like this and the Bucks are no exception. After looking really nice to open the season, they’ve dropped two of their last three games (to two good teams in Portland and Boston). But it does beg the question of if there’s a critical design flaw in the Buck’s model. Namely, are teams with a bevy of dynamic ball handlers going to be a problem for them? They dropped a close one to Boston, but were just broken down by CJ McCollum and the Trail Blazers.

While I wouldn’t say Antetokounmpo is struggling, you can see from this quote from The Athletic that even the Buck’s star is having to adjust to their new scheme, which is to be expected:

“It’s hard to find (my spots) because our offense is not an ISO offense,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s more like move the ball, move your body, set screens, a lot of ball movement and a lot of movement, so it’s hard to find spots.

You can imagine that there is an equal pressure being applied on the other end, where players like Eric Bledsoe and Lopez are vulnerable to plays that are designed to attack off of defensive switches.

Still, it has been working for the Bucks, they are top five in most statistical categories, including the all important net rating, where they are second only to the Warriors.

It’s still early, but the Bucks are looking real nice.

Whether or not Milwaukee’s players can live within this new system will define how far their team goes. But either way, both Curry and I agree that this Bucks team seems poised to break into the elite echelon of the NBA under new coach Mike Budenholzer.

Prediction:

I think this is going to be a close one. Warriors pull out a tight one: 120 - 118