Times are tough for Milwaukee Bucks fans. Their team just underwent a difficult, yet much-needed, roster overhaul. What that means is that the team got worse in the short term but ultimately should be better in the long.
The Bucks purged themselves of their immature and ill-suited backcourt from last year and instead have built a team comprised of young, hard-working talent.
Whether or not these players mesh well together is anyone's guess. But ultimately, this should be a good start for this Bucks team.
What it means for this year's squad is that it should struggle on most nights, but the team probably won't give up. This should make for some fun and exciting games.
With the league releasing this season's schedule on Tuesday, the Bucks and their fans have some dates that they will need to circle.
Here are the most anticipated games of the regular season.
This season, the Bucks were unceremoniously knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual champion Miami Heat.
The Bucks were outclassed and overmatched by a much better squad.
Now the Bucks will feature a roster that is less talented on paper against a Heat team that should still be the favorite to reach the Finals out of the East.
So why should this game be noteworthy?
First of all, the Bucks are going to be a hard-working team built on young talent that really doesn't know any better. They probably think that they should win this game.
Additionally, the Heat should be riding a bit of a post-title high in the beginning of the regular season, and teams might be able to sneak up on them.
To top things off, the Heat tend to struggle somewhat against big teams, and the Bucks will probably be featuring a fairly large squad.
The key for Milwaukee will be whether or not they can get scoring down low, most likely from John Henson.
Any other season, this would be somewhat of a snore-fest. I mean come on, the Milwaukee Bucks versus the Detroit Pistons? Who cares about this game?
However, this will be the first time that Brandon Jennings will be coming to town in an opposing jersey.
It also will be Brandon Knight's first time at home going up against his former squad.
But on the court, what makes this is a fun game will be the matchup between Larry Sanders and Andre Drummond. These are two of the league's youngest, most athletic big men, and the battles down low should be a lot of fun to watch.
These two guys are going to be fighting it out for loose balls, rebounds and inside positioning.
This could be a really nice battle for years to come.
The Bucks likely are going to be dwelling around the cellar of the Central Division. They unloaded their two top scorers, and they are in the middle of a rebuilding phase.
That being said, they should still be a troublesome team for contenders to deal with, and the Chicago Bulls are certainly a contender.
Now they will presumably be at full strength.
Rose offers a difficult matchup for any team, but he will be especially tough for the Bucks. Their top two point guards, Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight, are far from defensive stoppers. Ridnour lacks the athleticism to contend with Rose, while Knight lacks the instincts and strength.
But down low, Henson should be a tough option for the Bulls to contend with, especially if Carlos Boozer is left guarding him.
Henson's length should give Boozer trouble, and if they decide to switch Joakim Noah on him, Sanders should be able to get some easy buckets.
I know, why exactly should Bucks fans be anticipating this game? The Dallas Mavericks don't figure to be any good this year after striking out on Dwight Howard and most of the other big-name free agents.
But there are some subtle storylines to be explored.
First, this will be O.J. Mayo's first time back in Dallas after leaving the Mavs via free agency, and there should be some feelings there. Sure, he didn't stay long in Dallas, but Mavs fans did warm to him fairly quickly.
Second, Ersan Ilyasova, by most people's accounts, is a poor man's Dirk Nowitzki. And given Nowitzki's advancing age, this might be the first time in their careers where Ilyasova is this close to Dirk in talent and skill.
Lastly, this will be a fun opportunity to watch the past versus the present for the Bucks. Last year's shooting guard, Monta Ellis, will be squaring off against this year's version in Mayo. On paper, Mayo should have the size advantage, but Ellis should be able to get past Mayo at will.
This should be a fun game between two non-contenders.
Sure, they had a rough go of it in the playoffs once star point guard Russell Westbrook went down with an injury.
And sure, they lost their shooting guard Kevin Martin via free agency.
But this is still a team that features two of the top players in the world with Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
The Bucks, on the other hand, are just finding their way. They have a young core built on hard work and determination. However, they don't know how to win yet.
This game will be a fun matchup because the Bucks are just young and dumb enough to believe they can hang with this team.
Additionally, Serge Ibaka and Larry Sanders are two of the most athletic and determined young big men in the game, and it will be fun to see these guys duke it out down low.
Loose balls should be a spectacle to behold when the Bucks come to Oklahoma City.