The first sip
Preseason basketball should be taken less than 100% serious. It doesn’t feel quite as worthless as preseason NFL football can and does feel, but NBA preseason is definitely a warm-up for the regular season. Which at times also feels like a warm-up for the basketball that really matters in late April and May and June.
That said: The Bucks playing with Giannis and Damian Lillard for the first time in the preseason on Sunday felt like must-watch TV. There have been other preseason angles that have popped up — Jrue Holiday coming off of the bench for the Celtics, the Pelicans’ defense being poor, Wemby doing lots of alien things in preseason — but this debut felt big. This pairing, and all of the problems it’s going to create, is going to shape much of the league this year. Lillard, just working off of Giannis or pulling up from three when the first action doesn’t work, creates no good answers for defenses.
It’s going to take time for that partnership to fully form — the debut wasn’t perfect. But it’s important to watch the start and track where it goes.