The Milwaukee Bucks’ next contest will be the toughest test for any team in the modern NBA. I am eluding to the Bucks’ November 8 visit to Oracle Arena, to face the Golden State Warriors at 9:30 CT on TNT. For every team, game planning against the Warriors is no easy task. In this article, the discussion will focus on what the Bucks will need to do to beat the defending back to back champs.
The Milwaukee Bucks are off to an 8-2 start to the year, now placed 2nd in the Eastern Conference. This game against the Warriors will be the second game of a four game Western road trip for the Bucks. The first game came on Tuesday, November 6th against the Portland Trailblazers who took down the Bucks with a final score of 118-103. The win was led by Blazers’ Shooting Guard C.J. McCollum, who had a career night dropping 40 points on 65.4% shooting, adding 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. The Bucks biggest issue in this game was the disappearance of the supporting cast. Bucks players (not named Giannis, Middleton or Lopez) scored only 36 points and made only 13 of 41 shot attempts from the floor, which boils down to an abysmal 31.7% shooting percentage. If this happens again at Oracle Arena, everyone can stamp a 20+ point loss on this next game for the Bucks. This Warriors team is on the elite level of competition. With this caliber of opponent, everyone needs to step up for the Bucks on both ends of the court.
The two Bucks players I’m putting my Step-Up Spotlight on are the two guys up top, Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe. Here is my rationale. Khris Middleton will most likely draw an extremely tough matchup against Klay Thompson, arguably the best “3 and D” wing in the league (personally I have Kawhi Leonard as the best in this category, but that’s a discussion for another day). Giannis will continue “Get His” in this game, but the moral of the story is the Bucks will need an uptick in buckets from somewhere else besides Middleton. Bledsoe and Brogdon will probably get the likes of Steph Curry and possibly Alfonzo McKinnie* as defensive foes for a majority of the game. These are two matchups both guards can expose for easy buckets throughout the game as neither Curry or McKinnie are particularly stellar on the defensive end of the court.
*Draymond Green has been ruled out for this contest with a right foot contusion
As for the Bucks’ team strategy, this is a game they will want to control the shot clock on defense. What I mean by this is not giving the Warriors any quick and easy buckets. The more possessions each team gets the better the chance the Warriors will have to win this game handily. On the other side of things, the fewer the possessions, the better the chance the Bucks have at stealing a win. This mind set comes down to the Bucks wanting to play “the winner is the team who is more efficient on both side of the floors”, not “whichever team gets the hot hand wins”. The Bucks’ best chance to leave Oracle with a win is to slow down the pace of this lethal high scoring Warriors’ offense. This is so much easier said than done, but a task the Bucks can accomplish as a strong defensive unit.
The marquee matchup to watch Thursday is Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant. It’s very rare we see these two generational talents battle head to head. These guys are both competitors who play to win on both ends of the court, which can’t be said for all NBA superstars now a days. Both are built rarely similar so it will be interesting to see how they play each other in what should be a great game of NBA basketball. Do not take this matchup for granted, these are two players that will still be household names for decades to come. Yes I said decades.
The Bucks have given the Warriors troubles in the past, including last year as the Bucks marched into Oracle to steal a 116-107 victory. This will most likely be one of the toughest games the Bucks will play all year. Bucks fans should pay close attention to this game as it may serve as a predictor whether the Bucks hot start will continue as a seasonal trend.