Bucks Thursday: Jennings faces tough foes

The regular season opener is finally just one day away.

One of the Milwaukee Bucks’ early-season goals is to start fast. They haven’t been able to do that in the past few seasons.

In 2011-12, the Bucks started 2-6, and in 2010-11 they were 2-5 out of the gates. Through 16 games in each of the past two seasons, Milwaukee was 6-10.
This year, coach Scott Skiles wants to avoid an early hole.

“We’d like to have a good month to start the season,” Skiles said. “Most of the time in the past few years, we’ve been having to play catch up. We’d fall behind and have been able to hang in, but you’d like to get off to a good start so you aren’t playing from behind.”

The season opener will be a good test to see where this team is at. Boston will be motivated after being blown out by Miami in its season opener Tuesday.
“I haven’t read anything that (Celtics coach) Doc (Rivers) said (after the game), but I’m sure he wasn’t real pleased with their overall defense,” Skiles said. “I’d imagine they are going come out and stick us pretty good. We have to be ready for that.”

The Bucks went 0-3 against Boston in each of the past two years. Milwaukee’s last win against Boston came April 14, 2010, a 106-95 victory at TD Garden in Boston. The Bucks are just 3-14 against Boston since 2007.

Tough assignments early: Rajon Rondo on Friday and Kyrie Irving on Saturday.

Not the easiest start to the season for Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings.

Rondo has averaged 11.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game in 10 career matchups with Jennings. But Rondo has held Jennings to just 13.9 points per game against him.

“Brandon can get in line in regard to that,” Skiles said of Jennings’ struggles against Rondo. “The guy is really, really good. He’s one of those guys that you have to have a total team effort against. I know it is cliché, but it is true. You have to be aware of where he is. You could have great coverage, Brandon could play him tough, and he still could slither in there and you turn your head and there goes your guy and he finds him. He’s as good as it gets.”

What will Jennings’ game plan be against Rondo?

“I think just match his intensity and match his aggressiveness,” Jennings said. “I have to attack him when he’s playing defense just like he’s going to attack me.”

Irving, now in his second season, missed two of Cleveland’s four meetings with the Bucks last season, but he averaged 28.5 points per game in two games against Jennings.

On the other side, Jennings averaged 22.5 points and 6.5 assists against Irving.

“I’ve got two tough point guards in the Eastern Conference (right away) that I’ll be fighting for an All-Star spot with,” Jennings said.

Opening night jitters: It’s natural. Players are going to be a little more amped up than normal on opening night, but the Bucks expect the atmosphere for the Celtics’ home opener at the TD Garden to be more hostile than normal.

“Normally, you don’t worry about the first five or six minutes, you let the guys get out there and shake it off a little bit,” Skiles said. “You hope you settle into the game and can play hard and play well.”

Even in his fourth season Jennings still gets the butterflies in his stomach on opening night.

“I think every first game everybody gets a little nervous,” Jennings said. “Especially for us, we’re starting off in Boston. It’s not the easiest place and not the easiest arena to play in but I’m excited. If you can’t get up for that …”

Bogut’s debut: Former Bucks center Andrew Bogut made his debut with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Bogut started at center and played 18 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in Golden State’s 87-85 victory against Phoenix.

It was Bogut’s first action since fracturing his ankle in Houston on Jan. 25 while stepping on the foot of current Bucks center Samuel Dalembert.

The former No. 1 overall pick spent seven years in Milwaukee before the Bucks traded  him and guard Stephen Jackson to the Warriors for guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and forward Kwame Brown.

Captains picked: Players took a team vote Wednesday and elected veteran forward Mike Dunleavy and Ellis as the team’s captains for 2012-13.

Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.