Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Everything's Going According to Plan

NBA exhibition games are hardly a reliable barometer of success, but some information can be gleaned from them.

This blog occasionally harkens back to the 2009 Bucks' first exhibition game as an example of what can and can't be culled from October.

The Bucks were dominated in that game by the T-Wolves, with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love appearing to be an indomitable force in the paint.  What's more, the Bucks' 2009-10 regular season schedule began with three games against 2009 Playoff teams, followed by a game in Minnesota.  Given that the Bucks were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the League, the odds of the Bucks getting off to a good start appeared grim.

Long time Bucks fans know how that story played out: Kevin Love broke his hand "doing knuckle push-ups" (many people, incredibly, still believe that Love's broken hand wasn't the result of a fist fight) before the season began, the Bucks made the Playoffs as the underdog "Fear the Deer" crew and the T-Wolves finished with the worst record in the League.  So much for preseason results.

Except the T-Wolves' decimation of the 2009-10 Bucks' front line in October did end up being prescient.  The Bucks went a combined 1-7 against the three 2009-10 teams with bullying front lines (Orlando, Boston and the Lakers).  Then in the Playoffs, Atlanta out-rebounded them badly in games 6 and 7 to advance past the first round.

The Bucks' 93-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls last night means little, as does the starter-on-starter dominance exhibited by the Bulls in the opening minutes.  (The Bulls jumped out to a 14-3 lead before Coach Kidd began substituting.)  Regular season games will feature lineups and adjustments that were not present last night.

Some things, on the other hand, do mean something.  Giannis's inability to run a smooth half-court offense was obvious, as was the team's improvement when Carter-Williams initiated things.  Jabari's limited offensive game was as glaring as Monroe's Marc Gasol-style earthbound defensive anchoring.  Plumlee's inability to be anything more than an end-of-the-bench "warm body" Big man was clear, as was Teletovic's ability to hit jump shots.  And Rashad Vaughn continued to look like a guy who is not long for this League, while at the same time Dellavedova's game felt like the type that will keep him employed into his 30's.  These are all things that follow recent history, and there is little reason to believe that any of them will change dramatically in 2016-17.

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