Preview: Bucks at Spurs
Gregg Popovich isn’t happy with how his team is performing on offense. Conversely, Jason Kidd likes his team’s progress on defense.
That still doesn’t mean anyone should expect Milwaukee to win in San Antonio on Wednesday night. Popovich’s Spurs haven’t lost a regular-season game there in nearly nine months, and Kidd’s Bucks enter with six-game losing streaks on the road and in this series.
Kidd, though, does have a coaching win in San Antonio from his lone season with Brooklyn in 2013-14, and the Bucks did come close Jan. 25 before losing 101-95. The teams’ last matchup wasn’t as tight, with Milwaukee losing 114-103 at home March 18.
The Bucks (7-11) haven’t won in San Antonio since 2008, and the Spurs (14-4) have won 18 consecutive regular-season games there since losing to Cleveland in overtime March 12. They’ve yet to give up 100 points in nine home games this season, winning by an average of 14.4.
Scoring 100, though, has been tough to do recently. San Antonio has been held to an average of 93.7 points in its last seven games and ranks in the bottom third of the NBA (98.8 per game) after finishing seventh last season (103.2). The Spurs are last in the league with 17.6 free-throw attempts per game.
They had a five-game winning streak halted with a 92-88 loss in Chicago on Monday.
"We are not good offensively, and may not be until March," Popovich said. "Offense will take a while. We have a lot of guys getting used to each other, and how to play together."
Among them is newcomer LaMarcus Aldridge, though he had one of his best performances in a Spurs uniform with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He’s averaged 25.4 points in his last nine games against the Bucks.
Manu Ginobili has been struggling, shooting 25.0 percent in his last three games while missing all 11 3-point tries. Tim Duncan has averaged 6.3 points in his last four, attempting just 26 field goals (making 11), and has failed to get to the foul line in three straight.
Duncan has been tough on the Bucks even as he’s aged, averaging 19.3 points and 11.3 rebounds during San Antonio’s current win streak in the series. The Spurs have averaged 110.2 points in those six games.
It’s been a similar story for Milwaukee lately on the road, losing six straight while allowing 109.5 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting.
However, Kidd liked what he saw on defense in Sunday’s 87-82 defeat at Charlotte and the following night in a 92-74 win over Denver.
"I think you can see the guys are turning the page and understand what we’re trying to get done defensively," he said. "The last two games, they’re getting better. So now we get back out on the road against a very talented team in San Antonio, so we’re gonna need that defense to compete and win on the road."
Kidd specifically mentioned Jabari Parker’s strong defense Monday, when he had two blocks and two steals along with 16 points.
"We just gotta keep locking in (on defense)," Parker said. "Myself, gotta keep playing good defense and help contribute."
Last year’s No. 2 overall pick and 2013 lottery selection Michael Carter-Williams have come off the bench in the last two games. Carter-Williams had one of his best games of the season Monday with 12 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three blocks and three steals.