The Milwaukee Bucks wrapped up their preseason with a win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, but what are the key talking points from the action?
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Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
It may not have been the best Milwaukee Bucks performance of the preseason, but if you could choose just one preseason game in which to grab a win, the finale acts as the best chance to create some meaningful momentum.
Having been overwhelmed by dramatic runs from their opponents in the third quarter in their two previous outings, Wednesday’s game at the Bradley Center once again saw the Bucks present their opponents with an opening at that juncture.
On this occasion, the difference was that Milwaukee’s players ultimately weathered the storm and then slammed the door shut on the Pacers’ chances.
High scoring games from both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker should be enough to continue the positive feeling among Bucks fans about their star duo, but in picking up an all important win, there were other key contributors too.
In spite of plenty of positive play in recent games, the Bucks had made a habit of choking with big leads and allowing their opponents to get back into it. What has been needed during those spells is the composure and vision to slow the game down, and that’s exactly what Matthew Dellavedova provided against the Pacers.
The Australian’s ability to fit in so seamlessly throughout the preseason has impressed many Bucks fans, but he has never looked more at home than he did in this game.
Although Giannis Antetokounmpo remained the primary ball-handler on Wednesday, the team’s approach looked a little different when Delly had the ball in his hands. Dellavedova assisted on Milwaukee’s first three scores of the game, letting his teammates know that if they got to the right spots he’d find them.
On top of his stellar distribution, Dellavedova also scored the ball exceptionally well. A mixture of floaters in the lane and a smooth three-pointer saw the Aussie rack up nine points on four field goal attempts, without a single miss.
A reliable two-way presence, it’s already apparent just how much the Bucks could benefit from Delly’s presence this season.
While the headlines (and often the Vines) from Bucks games often seem to belong to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker acquitted himself exceptionally well, as arguably his team’s most consistent performer throughout the preseason.
Parker closed out the preseason with a 19 points, 10 rebounds, double-double on Wednesday, which was very much in line with his reliable production through his team’s previous six games.
Parker finished the preseason as Milwaukee’s leading scorer and rebounder, coming in second in terms of steals, and shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.
The Chicago native managed to score in double digits and amass at least five rebounds in each of the Bucks’ games, while showing significantly improved defensive effort compared to his previous two seasons in the league, and glimpses of his playmaking talent.
Maybe, it suits Parker to be a little out of the limelight, as that’s not his character, but make no mistake about it, his play looks set to draw no shortage of attention in the coming months.
It’s always important for a player to start the new season on form having signed a big money contract in the offseason, and it will be no different for Milwaukee’s Miles Plumlee in the coming weeks.
The Bucks showed incredible faith in Miles Plumlee, investing over $50 million in the former Duke Blue Devil, as they were confident he could do what the team needed from him to get the best out of his teammates.
In a spell as a starter after the All-Star break last year, Plumlee had little difficulty in performing to the level expected of him, but his preseason was a little underwhelming on the whole.
Plumlee played in each of Milwaukee’s exhibition games, but in just under 15 minutes per game put up numbers that could generously be described as pedestrian. 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game won’t be enough for Milwaukee, and in reverting to his comfort zone on Wednesday, he gave a sign of what he needs to do throughout the season.
Against Indiana, the 28-year-old posted 10 points and eight rebounds, while making 4-5 field goal attempts. Even more important than the numbers, was Plumlee’s energy level though.
He was active on defense, running the floor looking for alley-oops, and competing for offensive boards. If Wednesday’s performance can carry over into the season proper for Plumlee, there should be few problems for him and the Bucks.
The arrival of Tony Snell has added a different dimension to Milwaukee’s roster shape, but as he battles a minor injury, the rotation itself is still in a shape of flux.
On Wednesday night, there were positive signs from those who are expected to settle into second unit roles as the year progresses though.
Mirza Teletovic started on this occasion, but if he’s to be called upon as a second unit scorer throughout the year, he gave exactly the type of performance Milwaukee will look to see from him again. Previously lacking players who could not only make three-pointers, but would be happy to take them in volume, the Bucks could only have been satisfied as the Bosnian scored 14 points while making 3-8 shots from distance.
Having shot 42 percent from distance in his preseason action, Jason Terry also seems up to the challenge of delivering shooting for the Bucks, even at the age of 39. Terry picked up six points of his own against Indiana, including a three quickly after his initial introduction.
Then, as for rookie Malcom Brogdon, although the Virginia man has been asked to do a lot relative to his experience, he showed his own glimpses of getting a handle on the NBA range on Wednesday. Brogdon shot 4-9 from the field, including 1-2 from distance.
With spacing challenges still a factor in Milwaukee’s starting five, they’ll need all the help they can get from a bench who at least in preseason, seem as if they might be up to the challenge.