Suns-Bucks preview: Eric Bledsoe returns to Phoenix for first time since trade

Eric Bledsoe is averaging 11.8 points in six games since being traded from the Suns to the Bucks.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — Eric Bledsoe’s “I Dont wanna be here” tweet Oct. 22 signaled his early departure from the Phoenix Suns this year.

But he did not say anything about playing here.

Bledsoe, who was fined $10,000 for his tweet and held out of nine straight games before being traded to Milwaukee on Nov. 7, will make his return to Talking Stick Arena when the Bucks make their only visit to Phoenix on Wednesday night.

“It’s just another game, another game we just got to win,” Bledsoe was quoted as saying by ESPN.

“I just got to come out and play my game and don’t worry about nothing else. I’m on another team, focused on what we can build here.”

The Bucks (8-8) are 4-2 since acquiring Bledsoe but have lost their last two. Bledsoe had 14 points, six steals and two assists while playing a season-high 35 minutes in a 99-88 loss to Washington on Monday.

The Suns (7-11) have won two in a row behind guard Devin Booker, forward TJ Warren and strong play from the second unit.

Bledsoe averaged 20 points, six assists and four rebounds in his last two most recent seasons with the Suns, the first in 2015-16 cut in half because of a knee injury. He and Booker were the Suns’ 1-2 punch last year, when Booker averaged 22.1 points and Bledsoe 21.1.

“Book’s a talented player, man,” Bledsoe told ESPN. “I got a lot of respect for him. He works hard. It’s all love off the court, but on the court we’re definitely going to compete against each other. … They got way better players than their record shows.”

Bledsoe is averaging 11.8 points a game with the Bucks, who feature All-Star and MVP candidate forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and forward Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.7 points a game, second in the league to James Harden, who scored 48 against Phoenix last week.

Antetokounmpo also is averaging 10.3 rebounds a game and is fourth in the league in blocked shots. He and Middleton (18.7 points) are averaging more than 37 minutes a game, second and third in the league behind Cleveland’s LeBron James. Part of that has to do with the Bucks’ bench, which is averaging a league low 23.9 points a game.

After an 0-3 start that got coach Earl Watson fired, the Suns are 7-8 under interim coach Jay Triano. Warren had 27 points and Booker had 15 in a 113-105 victory over Chicago on Sunday.

The Suns’ reserves scored 50 points against the Bulls, including 11 of the first 15 in a decisive 15-5 run in the fourth quarter, and have scored 50 points in three straight games since Triano juggled the lineup to move Tyler Ulis into the starting point guard spot and bring erstwhile starter Mike James off the bench. Reserve shooting guard Troy Daniels, who has seen his minutes increase recently, has scored 47 points and make 13 3s in the last three games.

“I play who plays well,” Triano said. “If you give and effort and things are rolling, I’m going to let you go. I think we’re getting more familiar with each other, and I think our guys are understanding that it could be a variety of players in there.”

Center Greg Monroe, obtained in the Bledsoe trade, has started recently, which has enabled forward Dragan Bender and center Alex Len to stay together on the second unit.

“I think we’re starting to figure it out, and I think the starters and the second unit (are) both starting to get good chemistry,” said James, who had 15 points off the bench Sunday.