3 min read

Bucks vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer

Bucks vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
m bucks



Bucks (12-20, 3-14 road) vs. Thunder (21-10, 14-4 home)

TV: NBATV/FSOklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 7:00 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.7 (2nd), Bucks – 100.0 (26th)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 99.6 (9th), Bucks – 105.9 (27th)

Hey now! Cameron Payne finally got a little bit of time out there with the game still in the balance. And he performed surprisingly well. In the second quarter, he found Enes Kanter on a drive and dish for a 15 foot baseline jumper. Then, a minute later, he found Kanter again, streaking down the middle of the court on a fast break for an And-1 layup. DJ Augustin was also on the floor during this stretch, but it was Payne who appeared to be the veteran, as a pushed the action and made it a point to get Kanter involved.

In the third quarter, he was a key part of the run that kept the lead for the Thunder once the starters regained it late in the quarter. I don’t know if Donovan will continue to use him, but the difference in the 2nd unit with Payne out there was noticeable. He actually pushes the tempo, and is enough of a threat on the shot and on the drive to give other reserves (Kanter and Anthony Morrow) more open looks.

This is the first meeting of the season between the Bucks and the Thunder. The two teams split their season series last year, with each team winning on its home floor.

The Opposition

After surprising the league last season by making it to the playoffs, the Bucks were expected to build on what they did last season. Instead, they have regressed and currently find themselves 6.5 games back of the 8th seed in the much improved Eastern Conference. The acquisition of Greg Monroe this offseason was supposed to help the team out in what was one of their areas of weakness: interior scoring. Instead, it is the defense that has suffered, to the point where the Bucks are now one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has stagnated a bit in his development, while Jabari Parker is slowly coming back from the torn ACL he suffered last season. Michael Carter-Williams is still a triple double threat, but teams are now a lot more keen on his weaknesses (propensity for turnovers and lack of an outside shot). OJ Mayo has been one of the more consistent players on the Bucks this season.

3 Big Things

1.Limit the Turnovers

While the Bucks have been bad on defense, they are still ridiculously long, especially on the perimeter. If the Thunder don’t take care of the ball, it could be a factor on whether they win this game.

2. Pick-n-Roll Offense

The Bucks are extremely slow at defending the pick and roll from the post position. Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker have had issues defending the PnR all season. If Ibaka’s shot is on, he could have a big game tonight. In turn, Westbrook could also benefit from slower post defenders not being able to stay with him.

3. Durant vs. Antetokounmpo

Jay Bilas is somewhere shedding a tear of joy due to all that wingspan.

Slump-buster (The opposing player most likely to either break out of a slump or have a career game):

Jabari Parker – He’s had a slow recovery from the torn ACL. At the 4, he could give Ibaka problems as more of a perimeter player.