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Conversing with the enemy: A Sixers-Bucks preview with Rohan Katti

Getting a little insight about Thursday’s opponent.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of most games, Liberty Ballers conducts a question-and-answer session with someone possessing in-depth knowledge of the Philadelphia 76ers’ imminent opponent. Up next is Rohan Katti with the Milwaukee Bucks, who co-hosts the Gyro Step for the Blue Wire Podcast Network.

What’re the differences between last year’s title team and this year’s team? Similarly, how do they miss Brook Lopez?

In terms of roster, this team’s depth is different than last year’s depth. Last year, the Bucks had no guard depth and flourishing forward depth. This season, there is more guard depth than forward depth! They miss Brook Lopez on the defensive end, as they’ve had to deviate from their base drop scheme, though the Serge Ibaka addition has mitigated that.

What adjustments and experimentation has Milwaukee implemented this year?

Similar to last year, the Bucks have experimented a lot on the defensive end. Without Brook, they’ve had to change their base drop scheme to a more aggressive approach, as Bobby Portis is better suited as a mobile defender rather than a drop one.

How do you feel about this team’s title hopes and outlook now compared to entering the year? What’s changed?

I feel a little more worried about the Bucks’ chances at repeating compared to when the season started, purely because of health. While Serge Ibaka is a decent big, this whole season is really contingent on Brook Lopez’s return. Although, Brooklyn’s ceiling being lowered, due to the James Harden trade, does put the odds in the Bucks’ favor.

How do you think they’ll go about defending Joel Embiid?

There’s no easy answer for defending Joel Embiid! Previously, the Bucks have just had Brook Lopez be a solo defender on Joel and sent minimal help, but Milwaukee obviously cannot do that for this matchup. I would guess that Budenholzer tries to put Serge on him with Giannis as a help defender, as Bobby Portis would get destroyed.

What’s one matchup you’re keeping tabs on for this game?

I’m keeping an eye on how the Bucks go about defending Tyrese Maxey. He’s been such a dynamic player this season, and Milwaukee has, at times, struggled with shifty guards.

Biggest pleasant surprise of the season?

A surprise for me this season has been just how calm this team has been. They’ve had players constantly entering and exiting lineups, but they’ve maintained course and there has been zero drama.

Biggest disappointment of the season?

The obvious disappointment for this season has been essentially zero of the chance free agent signings panning out. While George Hill has been good, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye never worked out, which is upsetting because the idealized versions of those players would’ve have been great for this team.

What’s one thing Sixers fans should watch for in this one?

Sixers fans should enjoy the show! With no James Harden, it’s tough to take too much away from this meeting. One thing we do know is that Giannis and Joel always entertain when they play against each other, so we should all appreciate greatness.