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Bucks vs. Trail Blazers Preview: Backcourt duo of Lillard, McCollum visit Milwaukee

Damien Lillard is third among point guards in scoring this season.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks are aiming to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 7 as they welcome coach Terry Stotts and the Portland Trail Blazers for a Monday night showdown inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Bucks update

The Bucks (8-13) are coming off a pretty stout 106-91 home effort against the New York Knicks on Saturday. With 20 points off the bench, Michael Carter-Williams led the team in scoring while Jabari Parker added 17 points in a team-high 36 minutes and Greg Monroe registered his 10th double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds. New York kept the game close until the Bucks started the third quarter with a 21-4 run that held them off all the way through.

Even though Carter-Williams is coach Jason Kidd's only healthy point guard, his role off the bench isn't going to change and it's presumed he will play behind veteran O.J. Mayo tonight, who has now moved to the point guard slot after the ankle injury to Jerryd Bayless. From Saturday:

"He's going to continue his role and that's to come off the bench." Kidd said. "His role doesn't change."

MORE: A bench role might actually be better for MCW

Kidd was pretty vocal about how happy he was with Mayo's production. It's unsure how long Bayless as well as Greivis Vasquez (ankle) will remain out, but until then, Mayo will continue to fill-in.

Now about that defense, people. It's actually been slightly better of late (baby steps), with the unit allowing just one 100 point effort the last five games (102 to the Pistons) and holding opponents to fewer than eight made threes in four straight games. Granted, besides San Antonio, their opponents haven't been huge offensive threats, but it's progress. writer Alex Boeder has more on the possible return of the defense.

Blazers update

Even if the Bucks jump out to another early run to begin the second half, that might not last for long.

Portland (9-12) enters Milwaukee coming off a 17-point comeback that was sparked in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. After missing nine of his first 12 shots, Damien Lillard heated up and led the rally for the Blazers, while eventually ending the Timberwolves' late surge with a driving layup to ice the game with 18.8 ticks to go. Lillard finished with 19 points and seven assists, while backcourt mate C.J. McCollum added 17 to help the Blazers cut that 17-point deficit against Minnesota for the second time this year.

After the departures of LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez via free agency, the Blazers have relied heavily on the production of Lillard and McCollum, and they've delivered. Lillard has continued to post impressive numbers (third in scoring among point guards at 24.2 per game) while McCollum has enjoyed a breakthrough season due to an increase in minutes after Wes Matthews cashed in with Dallas. Now at 19.4 points in 35 minutes a night, McCollum couldn't get consistent minutes on the floor behind Matthews and Lillard for the early portion of his career because of their production and durability (outside of Matthews rupturing his Achilles last season). The new combo of Lillard and McCollum has helped produced the second-best backcourt in the league from a scoring standpoint behind The Splash Brothers: 54 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Mayo and Khris Middleton will have their hands full this evening.

On the Blazers: Blazers Edge

2015/16 NBA Season
Milwaukee bucks.vc6d60d4
(8-13, 6-4 home)
Portland trail blazers.v76b8a2d
(9-12, 4-7 road)
December 7, 2015
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:00 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
O.J. Mayo PG Damian Lillard
Khris Middleton SG C.J. McCollum
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Al-Farouq Aminu
Jabari Parker PF Noah Vonleh
Greg Monroe C Mason Plumlee
2014/15 Advanced Stats
92.9 (29th) Pace 95.4 (22nd)
102.1 (23th) ORtg 105.9 (5th)
109.0 (28th) DRtg 106.1 (24th)