December 28, 2017, 1:31 pm
It’s been somewhat of a disappointing season for the Bucks so far. They came into the season with high expectations as a young, super athletic team with one of the best players in the NBA, and perhaps the most unique.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the 6’11” point-forward who just keeps on growing. He fittingly runs the floor like a dear (buck), throwing down massive dunks, making excellent passes grabbing rebounds over everybody from places no one else can reach, and does all the dirty work in between.
He’s averaging 29.6 points per game, with 10.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks on 54.2 percent shooting, and that’s all basically without a jump-shot to speak of. He’s spectacular around the rim, shooting 76.3 percent, but he’s progressively more terrible the further away from the rim he gets.
It’s amazing what he’s been able to do with only an inside game, luckily he is respectable from the line at 77.6 percent, but he’s just so athletic, so quick that he doesn’t need anything else. He’s a matchup nightmare for anyone on the court and it’s likely the Wolves will throw a ton of different looks at him.
It’s been a disappointing season though because the Buck have a lot more talent outside of the “Greek Freak” with Khris Middleton, rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdan and newly acquired Eric Bledsoe. Yet their record at 17-15 is not quite what they envisioned coming into the season, even without Beldsoe.
Middleton is another 20 point scorer for this team and is the best deep threat on the team. Bledsoe is a proven scorer and tough defender, when he’s engaged. Brogdan now comes off the bench thanks to Bledsoe, but he’s an athletic defender and scorer at the combo guard spot.
Unfortunately things just have yet to come together for this team. Ideally they have a number of great athletes and long, rangy defenders at nearly every position, yet their defense ranks towards the bottom of the league in rating and scoring. They don’t have great floor spacing which can hinder their offense and only a couple of creators off the dribble.
In contrast the Wolves don’t have great spacing, but four of their players can create on their own for instant offense.
As a team the Bucks play at a slow pace, couple that with their poor shooting and inconsistent defense and this looks like a good matchup for the Wolves, on paper. With Giannis though, it’s never a good matchup. He can single-handedly change the game in the Bucks’ favor.
The game will be worth tuning into just to see the Greek Freak play. He’s a rare type of player that will do something incredible every time he steps on the floor.
On the Wolves’ side Jeff Teague went down with a left knee injury and was removed from the game. He’s slated for tests today to determine the severity of his injury but there’s always a concern of long-term absence with knee injuries.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Woj) it’s a knee sprain and there’s no structural damage. He’s still going to be out for some time, though it’s unclear how long.
For now he’s listed as doubtful and Tyus Jones will likely take over his spot. With Jeff Teague injured earlier this season Tyus averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 1.8 3-pointers.
The Field vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Jimmy Butler vs. Khris Middleton
From the opening tip it will likely be Taj Gibson who gets the first crack at Giannis, but the Wolves will likely throw double teams at him whenever they have the chance. Snell is a solid shooter, as is Middleton, so the double team might be coming from Tyus Jones, who will have Bledsoe.
It’s unlikely Towns sees much time because there’s no way he’d be able to keep up in the open floor. Perhaps Wiggins get a couple cracks, Dieng will have a shot and Bjelica may as well. Giannis is so talented with the ball in his hands though that the defense needs to be damn near perfect to even make things a little difficult on him.
In all likelihood Giannis will put on a show and there will be nothing the Wolves can do about it.
On the perimeter Butler should get matched-up with their greatest wing threat in Middleton. If there’s one guy who might not get a crack at Giannis, it could be Butler because he’ll be busy with Middleton all night. It’s possible if Khris is sitting with Giannis still on the floor that Butler gets a chance but most likely he’ll stick to Middleton and Brogdan.
Defensively Middleton is the weak link, so Snell will likely slide over to Butler. This could be a good chance for Wiggins to break out versus a poor defender. Butler will look to continue his tear through December no matter who’s guarding him.
Tyus Jones – PG
Jimmy Butler – SG
Andrew Wiggins – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
Eric Bledsoe – PG
Khris Middleton – SG
Tony Snell – SF
Giannis Antetokounmpo – PF
John Henson – C
Jeff Teague (knee) – DOUBTFUL
Jabari Parker (knee) – OUT
Mirza Teledovic (knee) – OUT
Where to Watch:
8:00 ET/7:00 CT on Fox Sports North