3 things to watch in Milwaukee Bucks return against Brooklyn Nets

Oct 19, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday
May 2, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Hey, look at that, Milwaukee Bucks basketball is back tonight! After some much-needed rest and relaxation (for most of the roster), the defending champs begin the stretch run of the regular season at home against the Brooklyn Nets.

This will be the third meeting between the Bucks and Nets, with the Bucks taking the first two games already this season. This is an important one for both teams in regards to the standings and potential seeding. If the Bucks win, they will lock up the tiebreaker and the Nets will want to leave the door open for any potential tie-breaking scenarios with how difficult it will be for them to move up the standings as it is.

Brooklyn has been real bad lately, losing 13 of their last 15 games due in large part to a severely shorthanded roster with Kevin Durant out (and not expected to play tonight), James Harden out (and no longer on the team), and Kyrie Irving in and out (more on him in a moment). They’ll still be shorthanded, but they have some new pieces available as well as one of their main stars.

How will the Milwaukee Bucks look to defend Kyrie Irving & the Brooklyn Nets’ offense?

After swinging a massive deadline deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets have a relatively new roster but the Bucks won’t be seeing the key return piece of that deal (Ben Simmons) tonight. They also won’t get to face the former darling of the buyout market ball, Goran Dragic.

They will get to face Irving as well as a couple of dangerous shooters in Seth Curry and Patty Mills.

If we’re being honest, the Bucks should have no issues beating this iteration of the Nets without Durant and Simmons because of how small they are because of that. Those guys (as well as breakout rookie Cam Thomas) can score a ton though if they get hot, which has burned the Bucks in the past.

It seems like a no-brainer that Jrue Holiday will get a majority of the possessions against Irving, but it also makes sense for Khris Middleton, Grayson Allen, George Hill (if they’re available), and Jevon Carter to get a couple of shots at him as well.

Holiday fared very well against Irving in the playoffs last year, holding him to 10-of-28 shooting in their second-round matchup. Shove Holiday on Irving for most of the game and they should be ok. I’d also be interested to see how the rookie Thomas does against Holiday as well.

I do not envy who has to chase around Curry and Mills, but it will likely be a combination of the guys I mentioned already but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them just switch those off-ball actions depending on the personnel out there. Head coach Mike Budenholzer has some new personnel to play with on defense and I’m curious how they’ll fit in.