Remember when everyone said the Bucks might overtake the Hawks this season? Maybe it still happens but Milwaukee is 3-5 and couldn’t find much offense until shooting 53 percent to beat the Knicks 107-80 last night.
Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks that was “the first real hint of their true nature,” just in time for the Hawks:
How long does it, or should it, take for an NBA team to disclose its real identity?
“I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “I don’t know what the true nature of the team would be yet.”
For this group, it wouldn’t be the bricklayers who were 30th out of 30 teams in scoring and 29th in shooting percentage on the way to a 2-5 start, with seven of the nine in the rotation missing more than six of every 10 shots taken.
But Skiles noted the Bucks are ahead of his schedule defensively. Defense, of course, is what made the Bucks a tough out for the Hawks in the East semis last spring even without Bogut, a capable post defender.
Tonight will be a good chance to see how Atlanta’s new offensive approach works against a rugged defensive team. It worked pretty well against Orlando but Milwaukee plays a different style.
“They are a dangerous team,” L.D. said. “It’s just a matter of time before they get it clicking. It’s going to be a physical game. I told our guys, the first words out of my mouth were ‘playoff intensity.’ Skiles’ teams in the past have always been physical teams, so we have to be prepared for a physical game.”
Not his policy
L.D. said he’s not married to the strategy of keeping Al on the bench when he gets two fouls in the first half. It’s just sort of worked out that way.
“What has happened with that, Al has gotten two fouls, but the team had been playing well,” Drew said. “They were in a little bit of a rhythm. Had it been the other way around, I would have put him back in. I had sent him back to the scorer’s table in the second quarter [at Orlando], but I pulled him back because the team had started to get in a rhythm and a flow.”
So L.D said it’s not necessarily going to be something he does all of the time. In fact, he said he’d like to leave Al and the other starters out there in those situations so they can get accustomed to it.
“I want our guys to learn to play with two fouls,” he said. “I don’t want guys to think every time they get two fouls, they are coming out the game.”
Mo participated in the shootaround today and is set for a full-contact practice tomorrow. If all goes well he could return to play Friday against Utah.
Marvin also participated in shootaround and was “moving very well,” Drew said, but he’s not expected to practice tomorrow.
Drew said the lineup shuffling necessary due to the lack of small forwards has been “OK” but he’s playing Josh and J.J. more minutes than he’d like. Joe has played 40-plus in five of the last six games. Smoove hasn’t played quite as many minutes but L.D. notes the rotation out of whack because when Joe goes he has to leave Josh in until Joe returns
Another possibility broached by L.D.: playing Teague, Bibby and Jamal together to “buy some time,” though L.D. said the Hawks would have to play zone defense with that lineup to avoid being hurt by post-ups.
“We’ve been piecing it together,” Drew said.
Carlos Delfino is out for the Bucks.