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Report: Bucks’ John Henson out at least 12 weeks

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A year ago, John Henson and the Bucks were ready to move on from each other.

But Milwaukee kept him, and he started at center for last season’s playoff team. The Bucks signed Brook Lopez to start over him this year, but Henson has thrived as a backup. He has provided strong defense and even developed into a willing 3-point shooter to fit Mike Budenholzer’s system.

But, now Milwaukee will lose Henson for a while.

Bucks release:

Bucks center John Henson will be sidelined with a torn left wrist ligament. Henson initially aggravated his wrist at Portland on Nov. 6. He was able to play in the next three games before reporting additional discomfort in Wednesday night’s game vs. Memphis.

Yesterday, Henson was evaluated by Bucks orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Carole Vetter of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network. The evaluation confirmed the injury and surgery will be scheduled in the near future. His status will be updated following surgery.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

This is a significant blow for Milwaukee, which has started 10-4 and has the NBA’s best scoring margin by a considerable margin.

Thon Maker will likely slide into the rotation. Christian Wood could get a chance behind Lopez, too. Ersan Ilyasova might play more at center.

The Bucks have a decent number of options.

But for a team rolling, any disruption to the status quo is unwelcomed.

Three Things to Know: Stephen Curry strains groin as injuries start to hit Warriors

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Stephen Curry leaves game with a groin strain, injuries mount as Bucks blowout Warriors. It’s the one thing most likely to derail the Warriors championship train: Injuries. And they are starting to hit the Warriors. Shaun Livingston remains out with a foot issue, and Andre Iguodala is limited by back and neck issues, for example.

Draymond Green was out Thursday night as the Milwaukee Bucks came to Oracle Arena and that mattered. On defense, they needed him to slow Giannis Antetokounmpo… as much as anyone is going to slow the Greek Freak right now. The Warriors couldn’t and Antetokounmpo dropped Green’s jaw like he was in a Tex Avery cartoon.

Antetokounmpo had 19 points, seven rebounds by the half and finished with 24 points on 16 shots, plus nine boards in a 23-point Bucks win, 134-111. The Warriors also missed Green on offense — he is by far the best screen setter on the Warriors and without him Stephen Curry and others couldn’t find the space they are used to against the length of the Bucks.

Then this happened.

Curry soon left the game with what is officially a strained left adductor, which is the groin muscle to the rest of us. Steve Kerr said there will be an MRI on Friday to figure out the severity. Groin strains (like hamstrings) can linger, and players can think they are healed when they are not, then re-injure them in the heat of competition. Which is to say, this early in the season the Warriors are going to be exceedingly cautious.

For the Bucks, this was a “take us seriously, we are contenders” game. Off to a 9-2 start this season they have the best net rating in the league — besting opponents by 12.9 points per 100 possessions, with the second-ranked offense and fourth-ranked defense in the league. They have the necessary superstar in the Greek Freak, and now quality talent around him — Eric Bledsoe was a problem for Stephen Curry all night, Kris Middleton is for real, their bigs Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova can space the floor, and the list goes on and on — to be a threat. Mike Budenholzer is using all that talent properly, with floor spacing on offense and a more conservative defense than Jason Kidd ran.

Bottom line, when you talk the best in the East, the Bucks need to be mentioned with Boston and Toronto.

Golden State is still the gold standard in the NBA, the team everyone needs to beat, and a November win does not vault the Bucks past them. The Warriors did not treat this like a playoff game, they did not adjust like they would (in the Finals). But the nagging injuries are catching up with the Warriors, and with Golden State focused on April and beyond — not November — expect them to be slow bringing guys back from injury, and to get other stars rest. The Warriors have been here before, they know how to handle this, but it will cost them some wins as they focus on the long term.

2) Boston comes from 22 down to beat the struggling Suns on the road. Every time I looked in on this game and saw the score with the Celtics down by 15 or 20, I kept saying “the run is going to come.” Except, it never really did, when Devin Booker hit a floater with 3:45 to play in the game the Suns were up 14 (94-80).

That’s when the run came. Which was capped off by former Sun Marcus Morris — the guy bitter at the franchise for splitting up he and his brother — draining a three to tie.

After the game, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said he had instructed the Suns to foul on that final play and force the Celtics to shoot two free throws. They had a chance When Morris first had the ball 35 feet out with his back to the basket, they had a chance when he first handed off to Kyrie Irving, and the Suns didn’t follow their coach’s instruction. Then they left (and didn’t rotate over to) a shooter at the arc and… that’s how you blow a three-point lead in the final seconds.

Kyrie Irving took over in OT and the Celtics got the win, 116-109. Kyrie Irving had 39, Devin Booker 38. Just remember, this was the easy game on the Celtics’ road trip West.

3) Carmelo Anthony returned to Houston and… that looked familiar. And ugly. The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook. Houston had won three in a row, all on the road, they had James Harden and Chris Paul healthy and were starting to feel themselves…

And Thursday night was all Thunder. OKC’s defense was sharp, but mostly the Rockets were off — Paul and Harden combined to shoot 11-of-30. As a team, Houston shot just 37.8 percent from the floor. This continues a trend all season, the Rockets are just missing shots. Houston leads the league with 41.9 threes attempted per game, 47.5 percent of their total shots, but they are 25th in shooting percentage from deep at 32.7 percent.

Nobody in a Rockets’ uniform was colder Thursday than Carmelo Anthony, who returned to OKC and shot 1-of-11 — a sight familiar to Thunder fans.

All of this led to a Thunder win — their seventh in a row — behind a balanced attack led by Paul George with 19 points. The Rockets can chalk this one up to just an off shooting night… but there have been a lot of those in this 4-6 start.

Three Things to Know: Celtics rain 24 threes on Bucks, but Milwaukee belongs

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Celtics rain 24 threes to beat Bucks, but Milwaukee shows it belongs. “No doubt, we feel like we can be in that upper echelon of teams in the East. There’s some teams, for good reason, that everybody talks about, you know, Boston and Philadelphia and Toronto and, you know, Indiana. Teams that had great years last year and have great rosters. But, you know, we certainly feel like we should be in that mix.”

That’s what Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told Mike Krzyzewski on Coach K’s SiriusXM radio show on ESPNU Radio. His team then went out and proved it belongs.

The Celtics, however, got the win with 24 threes (On 55 attempts), one shy of the NBA record for a single game, to beat the Bucks 117-113. Boston got 72 points off of threes and 45 points off free throws and buckets inside the arc.

For the Celtics, it’s a big win behind Kyrie Irving‘s 28 points, and they hand the Bucks their first loss. After stumbling the first few games, the Celtics are finding their offense — they scored 115.8 points per 100 in this one — and remain the team to beat in the East.

But the Bucks hung with them, on the road, on a night when the Celtics knocking it down from deep. The Bucks didn’t treat this like a playoff game (they kept having Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova drop off the pick-and-roll, their standard defense, but it gave Al Horford and other bigs clean threes they could hit, something the Bucks wouldn’t do in a seven-game series) and yet they were in it at the end. The Bucks also got 33 points and 11 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who also did this.

There are no moral victories, but for the Bucks their first loss shouldn’t have them down — they looked like a team that can hang with anyone in the East. They belong.

2) De'Aaron Fox has his first triple-double, the Kings rout the Hawks and are now 6-3. The biggest surprise to start the NBA season? More than the Rockets stumbles out of the gate or the Wizards imploding (is that even a surprise?) it’s the Sacramento Kings — they are playing well. Playing hard.

Leading the way has been De’Aaron Fox, who showed flashes as a rookie but has come alive in his second season and against the Hawks “defense” (they have been terrible) he dropped 31 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds — at age 20 the youngest player in NBA history to drop 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 15+ assists in a game.

It’s not just Fox in Sacramento. Buddy Hield scored 27 against the Hawks and that makes five straight games with at least 20 — he is the shooter we expected. Willie Cauley-Stein has been a beast this season. Nemanja Bjelica had 19 against the Hawks and has become the secondary sniper this team needs.

The Kings have the point differential of a team that should be closer to .500 (+1.6 per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning The Glass) but that still is light years ahead of where we had this team before the season. The Kings are playing well and opponents better take them seriously. This team is good and will outwork you every night.

3) Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder pick up first road win, they’re finding their groove. The Oklahoma City Thunder are 3-4 now after coming from 19 down in the third quarter to beat the Hornets in Charlotte. That’s a solid win, Charlotte is playing well.

The formula remains the same in OKC: Their defense is good, currently fifth in the NBA, and then get enough out of Russell Westbrook to win. He had 29 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, and pulled out the Shammgod last night for a bucket.

OKC stumbled out of the gate this season, but the Thunder have gotten back to their identity once healthy and that means wins. But about the healthy part, this is a concern.

Three Things to Know: Klay Thompson broke out of his slump, destroyed Bulls

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) What Klay Thompson did to Chicago is not fair — but so much fun to watch. We knew this was coming. We knew that the 5-of-36 from three start to the season was not who Klay Thompson is. We knew that at some point he would erupt like Vesuvius and some poor team was going to end up like Pompeii.

Sorry Chicago.

Thompson set an NBA record with 14 three-pointers made. Thompson had 10 threes in the first half, and as a team the Warriors had 17 for the half — another NBA record. The Warriors scored 92 points in the first half, second in the NBA record books. Thompson had 22 points in the first quarter (the ninth time he had a 20-point quarter) and finished with 52 points, his third 50+ point game in his career. Oh, and the Warriors cruised to a 149-124 win.

That’s just not fair to Chicago (which is not a very good perimeter defensive team, not that it was going to matter much on Monday.

But oh, it was so much fun to watch. And Klay figured out is it was one of those nights early.

The Warriors are 6-1 to start the season and are more focused — and having more fun — during the long regular season than we have seen in a while.

2) The Sacramento Kings are 4-3… bet you didn’t see that coming. I’ll admit it, I haven’t been totally buying the hot start for the Kings because of who they beat: the Thunder (a team stumbling out of the gate, although the Kings spoiled Russell Westbrook‘s return), the flawed Grizzlies, and the flawed and imploding Wizards.

But Monday night they went into Miami, fell behind early to a solid Heat team, fought back in the second quarter, owned the third with 43 points, and hung on for the 123-113. Willie Cauley-Stein had 26 points and 13 boards, continuing to play like a man who wants to get PAID next summer.

Also, De’Aaron Fox is playing impressive basketball and had 23 against the Heat, and Buddy Hield added 20.

There’s a feeling among West teams that when Sacramento and Phoenix come up on the schedule you have to get the win — in a deep West with few gimmies, teams feel they have to beat the couple of weak teams. Except, the Kings have proven not to be that — they are playing good basketball. The Kings are playing at the second-fastest pace in the league so far. I’m not jumping on the “they can totally keep this up all season” bandwagon, but the Kings are not pushovers.

3) And then there was one: Bucks last undefeated team in NBA after knocking off Raptors. This game lacked much intrigue after it was announced both Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard (rest) and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (concussion) would be out for the night. So much for the fun early-season measuring stick.

Still, it was the last two undefeated teams in the NBA going head-to-head. Someone had to win.

That was the Bucks, 124-109, behind an impressive performance from Ersan Ilyasova with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Starting for the Greek Freak, Ilyasova was everywhere at the start, making plays on both ends and setting the tone. It was a reminder the Bucks can go with some shooting heavy and small-ball lineups that don’t feature their MVP-level player and still succeed.

The Bucks are 7-0. The last time they started that fast was 1971, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leading them.

Bucks’ Kris Middleton: ” I think you’re going to see a whole new Giannis this year”

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Last season, Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 26.9 points and 10 rebounds a game, was dishing out 4.8 assists a night as the point guard, and was playing fantastic defense. He finished sixth in the MVP voting.

Kris Middleton has been watching Antetokounmpo through training camp — the team’s first under new coach Mike Budenholzer — and he thinks the new offense will lead to a more comfortable and confident Greek Freak. And that should scare the rest of the league. From James Herbert of CBS Sports:

“I think you’re going to see a whole new Giannis this year. With that being said, it’s more of a guy not hesitating more and shooting more freely. [He will take] 3s and midrange and whatever, but without him hesitating or trying to force the issue. I think this offense is going to be perfect for him, where he won’t have to put too much stress on his body. He can take what the defense gives him. And then there’s going to be times when he just puts his head down and goes and does what he does best. But I think you’re going to see a new Giannis regarding shooting 3s more and just playing more freely.”

Whether it’s the off-season work or the green light from Coach Bud, Antetokounmpo has looked more comfortable from three this preseason.

If he’s hitting that shot, the rest of the league is screwed. There will be no defending him.

Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are an interesting team this season. How much can a coach with a modern system that better fits the players, and adding some shooting to the lineup (Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova) improve a team? The Bucks could be very dangerous this season if it all comes together.

Especially if there’s a whole new Giannis.