Bucks Lead

Central Division Roundup: Week of 10/16-10/22

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       –  CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – 2-1
vs Boston W 102-99, @ Milwaukee W 116-97, vs Orlando L 93-114

Cleveland’s season started on a high note, even if it came at the expense of Gordon Hayward’s season. The Celtics’ forward broke his ankle 6 minutes into the season opener, and is likely the done for the year. The Cavs seized control of the game in the wake of the injury, and held off the C’s in the 4th quarter to kick off the 2017-18 campaign 1-0, and spoil Kyrie’s much-anticipated return to Cleveland.

In game 2, Cleveland traveled to Milwaukee to take on Giannis and the Bucks. Another highly anticipated individual matchup (Giannis vs LeBron), ended up being more like Giannis vs the Cavs. The Greek Freak looked unstoppable, but the Cavs were too much. A late run sparked by three straight Kyle Korver 3’s effectively sealed the win, and moved the Cavs to 2-0. The downside to this W was a 4th quarter ankle injury to Derrick Rose, he is expected to miss several weeks.

With IT already out, and now Rose, the Cavs were forced to turn to the only other PG on their roster to start. Jose Calderon only ended up playing 13 fairly ineffective minutes, and Orlando was in control of this game from the jump. The Magic doubled up the Cavs in the 1st quarter (36-18) and never looked back on their way an unexpected 21 point romp.

Cleveland looked very human against a very mediocre Magic squad, after taking down two of the East’s best. Unfortunately for Cavs fans, this has become something of a trend over recent regular seasons.

       –  MILWAUKEE BUCKS – 2-1
@ Boston W 108-100, vs Cleveland L 97-116, vs Portland W 113-110

The Giannis Antetokounmpo MVP campaign started with a bang. Through three games, the Greek Freak is averaging 38.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game while shooting a ridiculous 67% from the field. He’s scored 115 points through 3 games, with only 1 three pointer. That hardly seems possible. He nearly single-handedly beat Portland Saturday night, with a career high 44 points, and a game-clinching sequence that included a steal for a fast-break dunk and a block of Jusuf Nurkic’s attempted game winning layup.

In Milwaukee’s lone loss this week, Giannis’ lack of help looked very apparent. The only other bright spot in that game was Malcolm Brogdon. The reigning Rookie of the Year has looked very promising in the start of his sophomore season. Through one week, he’s averaging 16 ppg and has shot 7-14 from 3pt. He also contributed 4 steals in last night’s win over Portland.

Bucks fans are overjoyed to have Khris Middleton healthy for an entire season, especially while waiting for Jabari to return. However, Middleton is currently shooting 37% from the field, and just 1-11 from 3pt. But he has found other ways to contribute, tallying 18 rebounds and 14 assists for the week. There’s no reason to believe his shooting woes won’t improve. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because every win is important for a Bucks team trying to make some moves in a top heavy Eastern Conference.

       –  DETROIT PISTONS – 2-1
vs Charlotte W 102-90, @ Washington L 111-115, @ New York W 111-107

The Detroit Pistons are finally the Detroit Pistons, again. After 29 years in Auburn Hills, the franchise has returned to an arena within the city of Detroit. The Little Ceasars Arena opened with a W, and much fan fare. After the opening night attendance was incorrectly reported as a measly 9,000+, that number was eventually corrected to over 20,000. One of the main reasons the Pistons left the Palace in Auburn Hills was a decade long decline in attendance. Hopefully the new arena in Detroit can continue to draw fans all season.

The Pistons’ chances at success this year rest largely on the duo of Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. Both players had, I’d say, above average weeks, all things considered. Neither of their numbers so far will jump off the page, except for Drummond’s perfect free throw percentage (2-2); but their bad numbers don’t stand out either, and that is great news for Pistons fans.

One player did have a historically bad night in Detroit. Stanley Johnson became the 13th player ever, and first since 2012, to go 0-13 or worse in a season opener. Stanley played 40 minutes in the win over the Hornets, but scored just 2 points on 0-13 shooting, 0-6 from 3pt. Johnson has been fairly underwhelming for the last few seasons now, and many are expecting him to take a leap forward this year with more minutes available after the departure of Marcus Morris.

       –  INDIANA PACERS – 1-2
vs Brooklyn W 140-131, vs Portland L 96-114, @ Miami L 108-112

The Indiana Pacers kicked their 2017-18 season off with a record-breaking offensive explosion. The 140-131 final score was the highest combined score in a season opener, ever. The new look Pacers showed off their commitment to play at a fast pace, and their lack of commitment to worry too much about defense. Both of which will hurt them against better teams, as we saw in their two L’s this week.

It’s hard to base first impressions off of a 140 point outlier of a game, but both Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis got off on the right foot with Pacers’ fans. After the Paul George trade being looked at harshly for Indiana all summer, the tide is beginning to turn. No, Oladipo and Sabonis are not better than George – right now. But Indiana went from looking at just one more year with PG, to now having years to build with a young core of Oladipo, Sabonis, and Myles Turner.

Speaking of Turner, the record-breaking season opener came with an ugly asterisk for Pacers’ fans. Following a collision with Brooklyn’s Trevor Booker, Myles left the game with a sore neck and was entered into concussion protocol. He missed both of Indiana’s losses this week, and his impact on this team was very evident.

       –  CHICAGO BULLS – 0-2
@ Toronto L 101-117, vs San Antonio L 77-87

The Chicago Bulls cemented their place as the laughing stock of the league before the season even started. Prior to the start of the regular season, a fight in practice left one player in the hospital and one suspended. Nikola Mirotic suffered compound facial fractures that required surgery, and is expected to be sidelined for at least a month. Bobby Portis, who reportedly “sucker punched” Mirotic has been suspended 8 games by the Bulls organization.

As expected, Chicago took two L’s to two probable 50-win teams. Unsurprisingly, a team whose best player is Robin Lopez will likely not be winning a whole lot of games this year. One bright spot, if you can even call it that, has been the emergence of Justin Holiday as a volume shooter for a team devoid of much talent. Holiday found open shots within the flow of the offense, but failed to convert at a high rate. Through 2 games, he’s averaging 15 points on just 40% shooting.

Adding insult to injury for Chicago, Jordan Bell, the 2nd round pick that they sold to the Warriors, played well for Golden State and refueled fans’ disdain for that draft night trade. When asked about it, VP John Paxson claimed it was done to “build up some equity” (the $3.5 million cash considerations they received from Golden State), and also went on to say that the Bulls had no one left on their board they wanted to take. Which begs the question, how does a team that is attempting to rebuild with young talent not have any targets left on their draft board at pick #38?

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks’ supporter

I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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