For the first time since March, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to play five-on-five during practice Monday morning in Orlando.
“I think anytime you play five-on-five for the first time there’s maybe just a tiny bit of rust,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But I was really pleased with the guys, how they played, the way they played, so I think overall it was a real positive. To say they’re ready to go play a 48-minute game would probably be a stretch, but it was a good start.”
Star Giannis Antetokounmpo was a little more blunt in his assessment.
“I sucked. I was terrible,” the reigning NBA MVP said with a smile. “Obviously, being in shape and being in basketball shape are two different things, so I always take it day by day, try to get better each day. I know I’m going to be ready when the scrimmages start and the games start. I’m going to be ready.”
The club had not played five-on-five since COVID-19 led to the league suspending the season in March. Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each said they weren’t able to shoot a basketball for months and just recently started getting work in when the Bucks facility reopened in late May. But unlike many of the teams in the NBA bubble, Milwaukee won’t necessarily have to hit the ground running when the games start counting again July 31. They have a 6.5 game lead for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and a three game lead for the best record overall.
“We’re going to be rusty as a team, obviously, because we haven’t played basketball for a long time,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously in the beginning of the season we played great basketball. We were 53-12. We want to pick it up from where we left, but at the end of the day, I think we’re going to try and use the scrimmages and the eight games just to get back to playing good basketball so we can be ready for the playoffs.”