Fiserv Forum had its first moments of tension Tuesday morning, as the Milwaukee Bucks let slip a 19 point halftime lead late in the fourth quarter.
Tim Hardaway Jr nailed a 3-point shot to leave the game all square at 110 with 3:42 remaining.
From that moment on the Bucks outscored the Knicks 14-3 and ran out deceptively comfortable winners, 124-113.
In a potentially positive sign moving forward, Thon Maker was active for the contest, the first such time he’s been dressed for action in the 2018-19 season. It come as a surprise that Maker had dropped behind Bucks roster cut survivor, Christian Wood in the first two games, so it would have come as a welcome relief to be back on the active 13-man squad.
Inhabitants of the Thon Maker Isthmus rejoice, while residents of the Christian Woodlands will have to wait… https://t.co/AE4fsXrhS7
— Frank (@fmaddenNBA) October 22, 2018
As the Bucks ran up a sizeable lead in the first half, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he and Matthew Dellavedova would get some valuable minutes in the fourth quarter, but alas, the game got tight and both were left in their warm-ups.
It’s once again a sign of the Bucks sudden depth, as the two Aussies have been relative staples in the Bucks lineup for the bulk of the past two seasons when healthy.
The Pick and Roll asked Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe about the luxury of having so many capable players sitting, and how they can keep those guys involved and ready for when their name is called.
“It’s huge, because later down the line we’re going to need everybody,” Bledsoe said.
“It’s early, it’s only been two games, we’re going to need them at some point. It might be early or it might be late, but one thing is they are professionals and are still getting shots up as you can see. They want to get better, so it’s only a matter of time.”
The point is unquestionably true, the NBA season is an arduous grind, and both Aussies will be called on to contribute at some point. But for now, the players above them on the depth chart continue to perform at a high level.
Bledsoe himself was superb, racking up a season high 13 assists to pair with his 16 points. Malcolm Brogdon also reached double figures, tallying 11 points and knocking down a huge fourth quarter corner triple when the Bucks couldn’t buy a bucket.
Perhaps the most valuable trait that the two Aussies will bring to this Bucks team is their ability to stretch the floor and knockdown the 3-point shot. Though they were sourcing terrific looks, Milwaukee watched as their lead dwindled to naught on the back of a 1-for-13 third quarter from deep.
Bledsoe said the message was simple at that point.
“Just keep shooting. They are going to fall at the end of the day,” Bledsoe said.
“It’s basketball, nobody goes 100 percent, we just have to keep shooting. I was 2-for-7 and hit a big three at the end so we just have to keep having that confidence and shoot the ball.”
It’s abundantly clear that the 3-point shooting Bucks are here to stay, and if the amount of shots Dellavedova and Maker are getting up after each practice is any indication, they intend on being ready to let fly when their name is called.
The 3-0 Bucks now turn their attention towards a marquee matchup with Ben Simmons, Jonah Bolden and the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. The huge early season contest is slated for a 12:30 AEST tip-off.
Ben Simmons didn’t practice today in Philly and is questionable for tomorrow’s game in Detroit.
Speaking after practice, Brett Brown said he doesn’t know how Simmons aggravated his back. Brown also said Sixers will be conservative with Simmons if his back isn’t 100% tomorow.
— Ben Mallis (@BenMallis) October 22, 2018
Simmons is questionable for tomorrows contest with the Detroit Pistons due to back soreness, but with the injury reportedly on the minor side of things, he would project to be ready to go in Milwaukee on Thursday.