The first game of the Joe Prunty era begins tonight for the Milwaukee Bucks as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
It won’t be the toughest test considering Philadelphia is 1-29, but with this year’s Bucks team, it seems as if anything can happen.
Milwaukee came out victorious in the two teams’ only prior matchup this season, which was the game where Jabari Parker made his comeback debut. The Bucks will aim to do the same for the second time through. Looking at the numbers, the same outcome should occur tonight. Philadelphia ranks in the bottom tier of every statistic, whether it is offensive or defensive. They rank in the bottom five in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game and points allowed.
One silver lining in the abysmal start of the season for the 76ers is the first-round pick Jahlil Okafor making a name for himself on the offensive end of the floor. The big man is averaging 17.6 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting. Keep an eye on the matchup of Okafor and Greg Monroe. One way Monroe can take advantage of Okafor is by getting him off the floor early and as often as possible. Being the rookie he is, Okafor tends to flail which results in common fouls. Look for Monroe to implement his signature footwork to his advantage and bait Okafor into fouls.
Khris Middleton had one of his best offensive outings of the year in the Bucks’ last game in Phoenix. He scored 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting and was a key for the Bucks’ come-from-behind win. Middleton is a player who hasn’t played too the highest level that he is capable of providing, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. He has relished in success against Philadelphia so far this year, as in their prior matchup he scored 21 points.
Once again, Michael Carter-Williams will be going up against his former team. The point guard who’s offensive game seemed to be gone forever has been resurrecting it to the point where he can be relied on scoring at least ten points per game. Ever since being benched, MCW has seemed to conform his offensive mindset to a more beneficial style, as he has cut off his bad shot selection and the number of turnovers has depleted. One of the reasons for his new-found success is the establishment of a nice little floater. When MCW cuts into the lane, teams often grant him a little respect, due to his ability to pass the basketball and poor shot percentage. However, his tear drop shot has been becoming more and more consistent, thus transforming it into a reliable offensive weapon.
On a small side note, former Buck Kendall Marshall will be making his return to the Bradley Center. A fan favorite, Marshall was traded in the Brandon Knight deal last season after his tearing his ACL in the game in London against the Knicks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo should also be back for Milwaukee. He sat out the win in Phoenix on Sunday due to knee tendinitis.
If all goes to plan, the Bucks should be riding into Christmas on a two-game winning streak. However, we all know the unpredictability of this team. This is a Milwaukee Bucks team that lost to the Los Angeles Lakers after all. However, if the Bucks play like we know they can and if they keep the pedal to the metal, they should head into Christmas with their heads held high.