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Bucks vs. Knicks Preview: Bucks face Kristaps and Carmelo at Madison Square Garden

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Khris Middleton has averaged 23.3 points over his last nine games for the Bucks.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after Wisconsin's football team conclude their first postseason game, Wisconsin's official basketball team hopes to register a win on the road as the Milwaukee Bucks face the New York Knicks inside Madison Square Garden.

Bucks update

It was another nail-biter for the Bucks on Friday, but fortunately for them, they survived against the Dallas Mavericks. Thanks to Khris Middleton's running shot with 9.1 remaining and Michael Carter-Williams' near triple-double, the Bucks ended a seven-game skid to the Mavs, 96-95. For Middleton, 12 of his 27 came in the first quarter after starting 5-of-8 from the field, while Carter-Williams finished the game with 15 points, 12 rebounds, eight dimes and a whopping five steals.

Giannis Antetokounmpo only finished with five points after going 2-of-8 from the floor and picking up five fouls. Jabari Parker added 10 points in 30 minutes, while Greg Monroe only totaled nine points on 3-of-10 shooting. Monroe is just 8-of-28 in the last two combined.

The Bucks led by as many as 17 at one point, but Dallas' comeback was sparked by a 12-2 second half start and Dirk Nowitzki's 10 points in the third. The Mavericks took a season and league-high 44 attempts from deep and only connected on 14, yet they hit them at the right time. Raymond Felton's triple with under three minutes to go tied the game up. After Nowitzki gave the Mavs a one-point lead with 38.4 left, he soon gave the Bucks the win by committing a turnover on Dallas' next possession, which led to Middleton's game-winner on the other end.

If you've seen a difference in Milwaukee's play of late, it hasn't been because of their defense, the staple of their 2014-15 campaign. It's been the offense, led by Middleton and Carter-Williams playing their best basketball of the season in the Bucks' last stretch of games. In his last seven, Carter-Williams has averaged 13.4 points, 7.0 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals on 50 percent shooting. Meanwhile, over his last nine, Middleton has averaged 23.3 points, 5.1 assists on 53.9 shooting from the field and 52.1 from deep (with a 66 true-shooting percentage). Both players have taken care of the ball and made plays on offense, compensating for the ongoing inconsistency of Antetokounmpo, Parker and Greg Monroe.

Knicks update

Derek Fisher's squad enters Sunday's game 11th in the East, two games behind the eighth seeded Celtics and three games ahead of the 13th seeded Bucks. That makes a trip to the playoffs unlikely -- they project to have a 19% chance per 538 -- but it's major progress for a Knicks team that has already eclipsed its previous year win total (17) before the midway points of the season. And while they've lost two of three to the Bucks so far this season, New York took a three-game winning streak into San Antonio and came this close to giving the red-hot Spurs their first home loss of the season in a 100-99 defeat.

In case you've been living under a rock the past two months, the big story in New York thus far is 20-year-old Latvian rookie Kristaps Porzingis, who enters Sunday's matchup tied with Arron Afflalo for second on the Knicks in scoring (13.6 ppg) while leading the team in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and blocks (1.9 bpg). After bursting onto the scene in the season's first month, Porzingis' scoring and rebounding numbers actually dropped in December, though he's bounced back by averaging 16/8 in the first five games of January, including a 28/11 line in San Antonio. On the downside, he's still not a consistent finisher (55% at rim) and that's a big reason why his true shooting numbers remain unimpressive (51.7 percent).

Zinger hype notwithstanding, the Knicks remain Carmelo Anthony's team for time being: though he's clearly on the downside of his career, Melo's averages of 21.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists are still damn impressive. Afflalo also appeared to be heating up when he singed the Hawks for 61 combined points in back-to-back wins last week, but since then he's failed to crack double digits in either of the Knicks' two most recent games.

Statistically, the Knicks are so-so on both ends of the floor, though they've held opponents to an NBA-low 31.4 percent from three point range this season and are slightly above average in taking care of the ball (9th in TO%), offensive rebounding (10th) and drawing fouls (11th).

On the Knicks: Posting and ToastingWall Street Journal

2015/16 NBA Season
Milwaukee bucks.vc6d60d4
(15-23, 5-16 road)
vs.
New york knicks.v3bf164b
(18-20, 9-8 home)
January 10, 2016
Madison Square Garden | New York, NY
6:30 CT
FS Wisconsin | 1250AM/105.7 The Fan
Probable Starters
Michael Carter-Williams PG Jose Calderon
Khris Middleton SG Arron Affalo
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Carmelo Anthony
Jabari Parker PF Kristaps Porzingis
Greg Monroe C Robin Lopez
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.0 (23rd) Pace 93.4 (26th)
103.6 (23rd) ORtg 104.8 (15th)
109.8 (29th) DRtg 106.1 (17th)