It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster ride to kick off the 2022-23 season for the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have looked fantastic, while Ben Simmons has looked...pedestrian.
In a matchup on the road against the 2-0 Milwaukee Bucks, however, they’ll need all the help they can get (i.e. they need Simmons to show up).
Milwaukee has gotten off to a 2-0 start on the back of their defense, boasting a league best 99.5 DRTG in this young season. This without All-Star Khris Middleton in the lineup.
It won’t be easy, but early tests are good for a team like these Nets who are trying to figure out their place among the top teams in the NBA.
WHO: Brooklyn Nets (1-2) at Milwaukee Bucks (2-0)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: ESPN (national), YES Network (local), WFAN-FM (radio)
Despite lineup changes, the Bucks are still the Bucks: hellbent on preventing shot attempts at the rim and completely nonchalant about allowing non-corner threes. Fun fact: Milwaukee has given up the most non-corner threes four seasons running, per Cleaning the Glass. Last season, 32.2% of the shots they gave up were above-the-break threes. The Knicks, who gave up the 2nd-most such shots, were closer to the 15th-ranked team than they were to the Bucks. The boldness of Milwaukee’s defensive scheme cannot be overstated.
It is also a reason why Brooklyn is much better suited to match up with them this year, at full-strength. For all intents and purposes, the Nets lost to the Bucks in 2021 because their stars got injured. That offseason, they brought in aging, lumbering big men, and all of a sudden, Milwaukee had a different class of athletes. This season, though, Brooklyn could stretch that defense past its limits. A lineup of, say, Irving-Curry-Harris-Durant-Simmons is asking for trouble defensively, but may be worth it against this team. And it’s not like O’Neale can’t shoot, nor Warren, should he be healthy enough to play. Sub those two in for Curry and Harris, and the team isn’t quite microscopically small.
For more on the Bucks check out Brew Hoop.