Milwaukee Bucks: P.J. Tucker gets feet wet in his Bucks debut

Mar 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Mar 20, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) /

The newest Milwaukee Bucks player, P.J. Tucker, continues to make his round of firsts since arriving to Milwaukee.

The Bucks commemorated Tucker’s Bucks debut Saturday night with a 120-113 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, which served as their sixth straight victory and 11 wins in their last 12 games.

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Personally speaking, it was a ho-hum outing for Tucker as he played his first game in more than two weeks after having been sent away from the Houston Rockets before ultimately being dealt to Milwaukee last week.

Coming off the bench, Tucker was scoreless on the night after having missed his lone shot attempt, a corner three, along with three boards and a block in 12 minutes and 44 seconds.

Given the whirlwind 72 hours or so that preceded his Bucks debut, no one can blame for Tucker for taking a minute to find his footing within in his new surroundings. Even for someone of his experience, it takes time to fine-tune his new role and what will be asked him by new teammates and a new coaching staff.

P.J. Tucker showcased his potential for the Milwaukee Bucks in limited minutes.

With all of that said, Tucker showed flashes of why the Bucks made such a priority to acquire him before the trade deadline this season.

As the Bucks have experimented with different defensive coverages and grown more accustomed to switching as the season has gone on, their defensive spine has already been a strongsuit. Yes, their defensive efficiency hasn’t dropped off from the elite status they attained over the first two years of the Mike Budenholzer era, but they’re hoping for a collective gain as the season has gone on in their mission to be more flexible when the playoffs roll around.

There’s no question that Tucker makes them more adaptable and versatile and they didn’t previously have someone of his rugged defending within their frontcourt. That was certainly on display as seen on this following possession where Tucker, after mirroring DeMar DeRozan, seamlessly slid over to knock the ball out of Keldon Johnson’s hands for what was credited as a block.

Tucker’s active hands, hustle through screens and closeout speed shone throughout his limited minutes, especially as took on tough assignments like guarding DeMar DeRozan when the two shared the floor, along with the Spurs’ young wing scorers like Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV.

While questions abound about how much Tucker has left in the tank in terms of holding up at his age and with how many miles he has under his belt, sequences like that and the following show just what the Bucks are getting with someone of Tucker’s caliber.

Being able to make opposing shooters and scorers uncomfortable by clamping down on their shooting space has been Tucker’s specialty since returning to the NBA nearly a decade ago.

Now he gets to do that in Milwaukee within a defensive infrastructure that rivals any core that Tucker played a part of, including the 2017-18 Rockets team that took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals. And Tucker brings with a wealth of knowledge that will certainly come in handy in such situations and as the Bucks make use of his wide-ranging defensive services.

There will certainly be better and more productive outings ahead for Tucker as he continues to adjust to his new team and continues to familiarize himself with his teammates. There’s still plenty of time between now and the start of the playoffs where Tucker will be certainly leaned on as the Bucks look to right the wrongs that occurred in each of their last two playoff runs.

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With the Bucks having clearly hit their stride at this point in the season, they’re hoping their acquisition of Tucker will vault them over the top of their East rivals. And hopefully last night showed a sign of what’s to come for both Tucker and the Bucks, even with plenty of work still to be done.