Preseason prediction: Will be the center in closing lineups by year’s end
Going into the season, I thought that with Lopez’s size, he could become a liability late in games as teams hunted for switches and mismatches and exploited him out on the perimeter.
This is where I thought Ilyasova would step in as the closing center, much like he did at times for the Philadelphia 76ers the previous season when Embiid was injured, as he’s a little more fleet of foot and can shoot from outside.
Although there have been times when Ilyasova has played some small-ball center, those instances have been few and far between.
For the most part, Lopez has remained the closing center for Budenholzer, as his defensive scheme rarely switches on screens on the perimeter, mitigating Lopez’s perimeter weaknesses.
In fact, for the most part, Budenholzer has utilized Ilyasova in large lineups off the bench, playing alongside both Lopez and Giannis or even Mirotic. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes not.
It feels like all season I’ve been reading from national writers that the Bucks are going to have to adjust when it comes to the playoffs with Lopez, that teams are going to exploit him on the perimeter and Bucks will have to go small.
I doubt that. Budenholzer has ran with Lopez all season and the Bucks are better with him on the floor in almost any situation on both ends. Budenholzer isn’t going to change the entire gameplan that got them to 60 wins once the playoffs start.
This prediction was wrong, and I expect it to continue to be wrong well into the postseason.
Running tally: 1/6, 1 push