The San Antonio Spurs travel to Milwaukee on Saturday night to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time this season. The Bucks, under former Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, have been one of the hottest teams so far this season.
The Milwaukee Bucks, led by former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, have taken the league by storm.
After spending eighteen seasons in San Antonio as a video coordinator and assistant coach Budenholzer was hired over the summer to take Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to the next level. He has done exactly that.
Budenholzer was always known as an offensive-minded coach. This season he has brought the Milwaukee Bucks into the modern NBA by giving the entire team the green light to let it fly from deep.
Milwaukee shoots more three-pointers than just about every team in the association. They are second only to the Houston Rockets in three-point shot attempts per game. They also lead all teams in points per game. This new look Bucks team is averaging just over 121 points per night.
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The key to victory for the Spurs begins with slowing down Giannis because stopping him is next to impossible. Minimizing his impact is the best the Spurs can realistically hope for.
Go under screens, double him in the post, deny him the ball. Basically, do anything they can to limit his impact on the game which is easier said than done.
The 23-year-old Antetokounmpo can cover the length of the court in three dribbles and has elevated to superstardom with similar speed.
The constant knock on his game has been his lack of a three-point shot. He’s knocking down an abysmal 12% of his attempts. Encouraging him to shoot the three ball will undoubtedly help San Antonio.
One key matchup to watch will be the duel between Khris Middleton and DeMar DeRozan. Middleton is one of the more underrated players in the NBA. He’s a solid defender and a lights out three point shooter.
Budenholzer encouraged Middleton to transition away from long-range two’s and put up more three-pointers this season and Middleton has happily obliged. He’s shooting more three-pointers than ever. He’s making them too. His 42.3% is good enough for sixth in the league among players with 100 or more attempts.
DeRozan will have his work cut out for him but is more than capable of handling Middleton. When he was a member of the Raptors, DeRozan was a problem for Middleton. Let’s hope the same is true now that he’s a member of the Spurs.
Both teams will be coming off a game on Friday night so each squad could be suffering from some fatigue. San Antonio is going to have to try to slow the game down, force the ball out of Giannis’s hands, and count on DeRozan to win his matchup.
If the Spurs can neutralize Antetoknoumpo and Middleton and force players like Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez to be the difference makers they can walk out with the win. A win against an impressive team like the Bucks would mean a lot for the struggling Spurs.
Tip-off is at 7:30 pm CT from the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.