Bucks

Bucks Can Break Glass in Case of Emergency

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The Milwaukee Bucks weren’t quiet at the NBA Trade Deadline.

With Brook Lopez out since the season opener following back surgery, an interior, defensive presence was needed. The Bucks traded for Serge Ibaka, shipping out Donte DiVincenzo while also unloading Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye.

Not Prime Ibaka, but Still Ibaka

Serge Ibaka isn’t the player he once was, but he certainly brings value as a rim protector who has a similar skillset to Lopez. Ibaka’s role is to provide rim protection, but also knock down open 3s and keep the floor spread. Things started a bit slow in Milwaukee for the big man, scoring in single digits in his first seven games with the Deer. Since the calendar hit March, though, Ibaka seemed to be gaining his footing.

He has scored double figures in five games, including a double-double in the Bucks’ finals rematch with the Suns. Ibaka had 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes. The 22 minutes is the most he has played. In those limited minutes, Ibaka has shown to be more than just a “floor spacer.” Scoring double figures in five games with each one playing 22 minutes or fewer is showing he is becoming integrated in the Bucks’ offense.

Despite a better March, Ibaka’s playing time has been limited, especially lately. Lopez’s return from back surgery, Bobby Portis‘ spectacular season and Giannis as a small-ball center doesn’t leave a lot of — if any — minutes available.

Bulldog Carter

The Bucks also notched an under-the-radar addition, Jevon Carter, in the buyout market.

Carter is a bulldog defensively. He is a better defender than DiVincenzo and seems like a young George Hill. The Bucks have dealt with injuries much of the year with perimeter players. Hill, Pat Connaughton and others have missed time. Carter took the opportunity and ran with it.

The moves didn’t appear to be significant at the time, particularly the Carter addition.

Carter, though, has been fantastic. He wasn’t expected to be much of an offensive boost for the Bucks, but he has. Carter has hit 18 of his 34 three-point attempts, including 16-for-29 in March in regular playing time. Last Friday, with Giannis, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday on the pine, Jevon had an outstanding outing, hitting 8-of-10 shots for 18 points to go with eight assists and just one turnover.

The Bucks also signed ex-Net DeAndre’ Bembry in the buyout market. The long, tough wing unfortunately tore his ACL and MCL in a loss to Golden State. Following successful surgery, the Bucks elected to waive Bembry Thursday morning, clearing an additional roster spot even after the international signing of Luca Vildoza.

Knowing that it would seem the Bucks didn’t get much better, but Ibaka and Carter have found their footing with the Bucks despite their recent DNP-CD’s. Adding two rotational pieces isn’t anything to be sneezed at.

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Confidence in a pinch

The Ibaka trade was a move the Bucks needed to make. Minutes could be sparse, but having injury insurance for Lopez is necessary given how the season has transpired. The biggest addition might be Carter, though. It could be argued he should get Hill’s minutes. Carter averages fewer minutes, but averages more points and assists than Hill.

The Milwaukee Bucks, now fully healthy, have the core of their playoff run back together. However, in case of an unfortunate injury the Bucks can break the glass and insert two of their midseason additions. Last year, we saw a number of injuries affect teams in the playoffs. Having a veteran big and a tough guard who seems like a perfect fit in Cream City could prove vital in the playoffs.

About Mitchell Skurzewski

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