The Milwaukee Bucks held their final practice at home before the season opening contest against the Hornets in Charlotte.
As they have been all preseason, the Bucks were in a jovial mood as practice wound down, and they have every reason to be feeling good, after a 3-1 record in the season prelude. The one loss came in Oklahoma City, as new head coach Mike Budenholzer rested his starting five, a group that has been simply dominant in their three games together thus far.
Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker remain in some doubt for the contest, both suffering from left knee soreness that saw court time limited over the past few weeks.
The Pick and Roll asked Budenholzer about the likely status of those two with around 48 hours until the 2018-19 season tips off for the Bucks.
“We’ll see how they react to todays practice and tomorrow, but we’re hopeful that all 15 guys will be available and then we’ll have to make hard decisions on who’s active and inactive,” Budenholzer said.
Dellavedova put in extra work after the session, teaming with Bucks staff to get up some shots from all around the perimeter. He appeared to be moving well and pain free, although a compression sleeve remained on his left knee.
— Kane Pitman (@mkebucksaus) October 15, 2018
Compatriot and team-mate Maker was seen shooting free throws up on the far practice court, before he headed back to the locker room. Budenholzer did say he’d been removed from contact drills as recently as Saturday, and it’s unclear to what extent he was able to participate today.
Maker remains mired in a competitive battle for minutes at the five, with the Bucks possessing a four-headed center rotation that also includes Brook Lopez, John Henson and now Christian Wood – the latter who survived today’s roster cut deadline to make the final 15-man squad.
Lopez, about to begin his 11th campaign, will start for Milwaukee, and spoke about the internal battle among his fellow big men during training camp and the preseason.
“The battle throughout the preseason has been great, it’s been a lot of fun. We have a diverse talent set there, lot of bigs that can do a lot of different things,” he said.
When asked about working with Maker up close, Lopez was effusive in his praise, and admitted to being a little shocked by the versatility of the 7-foot-1 Aussie.
“I was just surprised at how talented he was and how many different tools he has that I didn’t know about.
“I figured he was great at spacing the floor, but he’s great at putting the ball down, creating, making moves and I think with the work ethic he has he’s going to continue to improve rapidly,” Lopez said.
Thon’s work ethic continues to be a trait that earns him a great deal of respect among his peers, and he will be hoping the grind will translate to more consistent performances on the floor in year three.
It’s highly likely the status of the two Aussies won’t be known until shoot around on the morning of the game, so for now, it remains a waiting game.
The Bucks season opens at Charlotte on Thursday morning, tipping off at 10:00am AEST.