Winners of four-straight inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Bucks face the Magic looking to notch win No. 5 with head coach Jason Kidd making his return to the bench following hip surgery. Kidd has been rehabbing since undergoing the operation on Dec. 21 and last coached his team the day before in Phoenix.
Speaking before his anticipated return to the sideline, Kidd not surprisingly had positive remarks for interim coach Joe Prunty and the Bucks' coaching staff. Prunty coached the team to an 8-9 record in Kidd's absence.
"I thought my staff did a great job," Kidd said via Charles Gardner. "It was seamless. They all stayed in their lanes and did what they had to do to keep the team going.
"When you look at Joe and the rest of the guys, sometimes it's not easy. And the players continued to get better each time they took the floor. Me as a leader, we're here to develop a leader as a player, and hopefully we can do that in the next couple weeks."
The Bucks made small improvements defensively in their first two games of the road trip against Charlotte and Miami, holding them to 37 and 36 percent respectively. That changed in their last two games as they allowed Houston and New Orleans to hit a combined 32 shots from deep (including a Bucks opponent-high of 17, which came from the Pelicans). Guarding the 3-point line has of course been a consistent issue for the Bucks this season: they rank in the bottom eight in the NBA in opponent 3-point percentage and have allowed teams to hit double-digit attempts in 20 games this season. On average, they allow nine makes from deep per game, which is tied for the fifth-worst mark in the league.
Fortunately for the Bucks tonight, the Magic don't attempt many threes, nor do they hit them efficiently when they do decide to pull the trigger.
Even thought the Magic are in the thick of the Eastern playoff race (20-22), their recent slew of game outcomes would suggest otherwise. Orlando comes to Milwaukee having lost six straight games (three OT losses), plus 10 of their last 11. Their most recent loss came in overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies, but only after the Magic blew a four-point lead with 18 seconds to go. Jeff Green scored 30 points off the bench for the Grizzlies, while Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and former Buck Tobias Harris each scored 16 for Orlando.
The Magic allowed a season-high 70 points in the paint in Memphis, which bodes well for the Bucks, who rank first in the league in that category at 49 points per contest. You can probably expect another double-double from Greg Monroe, in addition to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker scoring on open cuts and drives to the basket.
Despite how poorly Orlando has played recently, Scott Skiles' defensive influence still has them 12th in the league in defensive rating. They don't excel in any single area, but rank between 11th and 19th in each of the defensive four factors.
Orlando is 2-5 this second in the second of back-to-back games.
On the Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post
|2015/16 NBA Season|
|January 26, 2016|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Elfrid Payton|
|Khris Middleton||SG||Victor Oladipo|
|Jabari Parker||SF||Aaron Gordon|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||PF||Tobias Harris|
|Greg Monroe||C||Nikola Vucevic|
|2015/16 Advanced Stats|
|93.8 (24th)||Pace||94.1 (22nd)|
|103.9 (21st)||ORtg||103.4 (23rd)|
|109.1 (29th)||DRtg||103.9 (12th)|