Friday night in San Antonio is the beginning of a new era in Milwaukee Bucks basketball. It marks the beginning of Eric Bledsoe’s Bucks stint. This past Tuesday, key rotation big Greg Monroe, a 1st round pick and a second round pick (both protected) were sent to Phoenix in return for acquiring Bledsoe. The deal ended two and a half weeks of speculation on where Bledsoe would end up, sparked by the infamous, “I don’t wanna be here” tweet that resulted in him being banished from the team.
Bledsoe joined the team on Thursday in San Antonio for practice, all but confirming he will see some minutes tonight, how many and if there is a restriction given his time away from the court remains to be seen. Excitement is palpable amongst Bucks fans who are salivating at the thought of finally adding an explosive point guard, capable of breaking down defenses and opening up the often stagnant offense. I personally cant stop having visions of Bledsoe crossing up his opponent, breaking to the rim and leaving a perfectly timed lob in Giannis’ path before the Greek Freak destroys the rim with a thunderous jam.
Starting his career in Los Angeles, Bledsoe found himself backing up Chris Paul for the Clippers, he was a tantalizing prospect being held back before heading to the Suns for the 2013/14 season. This was to be Bledsoe’s fifth season in Phoenix since making the move, becoming a permanent starter he holds averages of 18.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.6 steals.
The Bucks guard rotation as a group stands to be strengthened immensely with the trade, Brogdon eventually will likely be relegated to the second unit providing desperately needed play making and scoring to a group that has largely been inept thus far.
The Bucks had no problem scoring the ball in their last outing, a 119-124 loss in Cleveland. The Bucks were repeatedly called for fouls, allowing the Cavs to feast at the line. By the end of the night the free throw attempted differential was -22, a ridiculous figure, the last three contests that differential sits at an astonishing -55. Simply to much for any team to overcome.
Kidd, often criticized for not being animated on the sidelines was as candid as you’ll ever see him post game when giving his thoughts on the officials acknowledging a fine was incoming with this comment;
“The different crews we’ve had have been awful. It’s just a matter of understanding the game is being called one way and unfortunately it’s not in our favor right now.”
He was correct, Thursday the NBA fined Kidd $15,000 for the verbal spray. This will be an interesting storyline to track on Friday night, whether or not Kidd’s comments will be on the minds of the appointed referee crew.
After trading Monroe and watching Henson and Thon Maker get constantly abused by opposition big man the Bucks made another roster move on Thursday, two-way contracted Joel Bolomboy joining the team to presumably be active against the Spurs. Bolomboy, a 6″9′ forward/center is a physical player, not at all afraid to put his body on the line. Drafted by Utah in the second round, 52nd overall, Bolomboy spent plenty of time honing his craft in the G-League last season with dominating box score stats, posting 16.6 points and 13.3 rebounds across 24 appearances. Wisonsin Herd opened the season with a victory last week, Bolomboy recorded 21 points and 9 rebounds, shooting 2/4 from deep, further evidence of an improving long range game. I really hope he gets an opportunity against San Antonio, I’m clearly a big fan and think he can be an impact player sooner rather then later.
Milwaukee will look for back-to-back wins in San Antonio for the first time since the 01/02 season Friday, and it will be no easy task even with MVP fancy Kawhi Leonard yet to appear this season with a quad injury. Despite missing their superstar forward, unsurprisingly they remain well over .500, standard procedure for Pop and the Spurs. In bad news for the Bucks struggling big man brigade the much maligned LaMarcus Aldridge has carried the load, averaging 22.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Spurs with able help from off-season recruit Rudy Gay (13.5 points) and Danny Green (11.6).
Whilst it will be an exciting night for Bucks fans anticipating the debut of an all-star calibre guard to pair with our MVP candidate, its also about time we seen the Bucks slow down an opposition offense. During the four game losing streak the Bucks have conceded 116 points a game, slumping to now rank the second worst defense in the league, simply not good enough for a team with some seriously talented individual defenders. Facing a team that runs as meticulously as San Anotonio does, it doesn’t bode well for our much publicized defensive scheme, now in its fourth year with terrible results.
ESPN will cover the game, our fifth national TV game in eleven starts, pretty cool until you consider we are 0-4 so far in said games. I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, if we want to continue to garner respect in the basketball fraternity as a team, its time we finally stood up in one of these game. The Giannis and Bledsoe era begins tonight, lets hope it’s a winning start.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus