Milwaukee are at home again Monday night as they play host to the Charlotte Hornets (1-1) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Saturday night, the Bucks successfully got Khris Middleton going early and often with 10 first quarter points in an attempt to curtail his early season struggles (see my game 3 blog here). From that point on, it was a one man show. The Greek Freak poured in a career high 44 points in a historic night as the Bucks got the W, 113-110.
The Hornets are pegged to be one of the teams fighting for one of the East’s playoff spots but are horribly short-handed to start the season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Nic Batum are all notable outs for a team trying to stay afloat until they can return. This leaves Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard to do much of the heavy lifting Monday night in a game that looms very winnable for Milwaukee. The much maligned Howard has dominated the Bucks lack of rebounding ability in the past, and still presents a challenge for Milwaukee’s three-pronged big man platoon. In 35 career games against the Bucks, Howard has averaged 19.7 points and 13.3 rebounds, intimidating numbers to say the least.
But lets get back to the platoon at center for the deer. Hands up; who picked John Henson to be averaging the most minutes through three games at the five?……..silence.
Thought so. But thats exactly what has happened, and its hard to really blame Jason Kidd for this. It took until the 3:30 mark of the first quarter against Boston for me to be screaming at the TV over Kidd’s rotations. Henson checked in for Monroe, our third center to see the floor in the first 9 minutes of the season. Turns out Moose had a cut over his eye and needed attention, and Henson got his chance. Fast forward two hours and Hook had played the entire 4th quarter in a hotly contested finish and impressing with 5 points, 6 boards and 4 blocks.
Game 2 against the Cavs was a bad night all-round for the Milwaukee big men as Kevin Love and co, beat us up to the tune of 49-34 on the glass. Despite this, Henson still figured in the rotation and checked in for Moose who was having a particularly rough night, giving the ball away twice early in the second to get the hook (pardon the pun).
Game 3 against the Blazers, Kidd starts with the usual Thon/Moose rotation early but Moose again struggles going 0/3. Henson plays 24 of the final 36 minutes at center and Monroe never returns, finishing with Tony Snell like donuts across the board in 7 forgettable minutes. 7 points, 9 boards and 3 blocks in 24 minutes for Henson, another outing in which he was clearly the best of the three for the Bucks.
Jason Kidd’s wild rotations should not surprise anyone by this point, but its hard to really argue with how this has played out. BUT this is nothing new with Henson, we’ve seen it all before. Admittedly i am a big critic of Hook’s, and urge Bucks fans to not get sucked in (again). With two more seasons after this one left on his contract at approximately 10 million dollars a year, Henson is (fractionally ahead of Mirza) the number one biggest anchor on our ability to bring in more talent. In fact, watching him play this way just feels like salt in the wound and a reminder of the mythical “playoff Henson” from 2015 against the Bulls that failed to return.
Best case scenario for the Bucks is that he continues to show this form through the next few weeks and hope a rival team will take his contract off of our books. In light of the developments in Phx the last 24 hours, using Hook in a Bledsoe deal seems ideal.
I am far from sold on Thon Maker at this point, but believe he has flashed enough for us to know that out of the group, he is the best chance of being our future center. Moose will bounce back, I’m sure of that. He was sensational last year and as long as he plays the majority of his minutes with what is a rather inept second unit offensively he will be ok.
I will sit in anticipation of what is next to come for our big men group tonight but one thing is for certain, nothing will surprise me.
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