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Bucks vs. Rockets Preview: Milwaukee streak faces stiff test vs. James Harden in Houston

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Six in a row?

I mean, really?

Yes, really. The league's most successful skeleton crew rolls into Houston tonight looking to win their sixth in a row, though once again injuries and basic logic would suggest the cards stacked against them. No big deal -- Jason Kidd and his Milwaukee Bucks are used to playing shorthanded, and they're also used to no one expecting them to win.

And yet...they continue to do so. Sometimes impressively, sometimes dramatically, but always frenetically and energetically. The formula tonight figures to be the same, even if James Harden is nursing a minor knee injury and the Rockets will be without Dwight Howard (knee, out for at least four weeks). Of course, that small detail didn't stop the Rockets from dismantling the Bucks in Milwaukee on November 30, with Harden (34 pts) and big man Donatas Motiejunas (20/6/4) spearheading a blitzing Rocket attack. The good news for the Bucks is that we may see Ersan Ilyasova (remember him?) for the first time since straining his groin over a week ago, the latest in a series of injuries that have disrupted what was becoming a very productive season.

Interestingly, both teams have succeeded thanks to similar efficiency profiles this season. Both have top-five defenses and open, but somewhat less impressive offenses. Both teams struggle on the defensive glass, but force a ton of turnovers while similarly giving it away too easily offensively.The Bucks play at a more measured pace, however, and shoot well from deep but not as often as most other teams.The Rockets are the exact opposite, relying on Harden's playmaking abilities to spread teams out, speed up the game, and relentlessly jack triples (1st in attempts and makes, 13th in efficiency). That figures to make this a good test of the Bucks' scrambling, trapping defense, which showed some holes against the Lakers on Wednesday when L.A. was able to get the ball inside.

2014/15 NBA Season
Hou
(34-15, 17-7 home)
vs.
Mil_medium
(27-22, 15-12 away)
February 6, 2015
Toyota Center | Houston, TX
7:00 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Patrick Beverley PG Brandon Knight
James Harden SG Khris Middleton
Trevor Ariza SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
Donatas Motiejunas PF Jared Dudley
Joey Dorsey C John Henson
2014/15 Advanced Stats
98.5 (4th) Pace 96.3 (13th)
103.3 (14th) ORtg 101.7 (17th)
99.4 (3rd) DRtg 98.7 (2nd)