With how inconsistent the 2015-16 season has been for the Milwaukee Bucks, recording a 7-8 record in the month of January was in some ways a positive.
That won't mean much with February underway as the Bucks begin a new month with a three-game road trip in Sacramento looking to give the Kings their fifth-straight loss.
Giannis Antetokounmpo's 28 points in a team-high 46 minutes weren't enough to help the Bucks hold on Friday against the Miami Heat. The Bucks tied the game late before Dwyane Wade knocked down a 19-foot jumper with 44.5 seconds left and eventually gave the Heat a 107-103 edge after shots at the foul line. Wade finished the game with 24 points and recorded seven assists.
Greg Monroe finished with 24 points for the Bucks, while Jabari Parker aggressively scored 17 points. The two plus Antetokounmpo were the only Bucks players to score in double-figures, with Khris Middleton struggling (2-for-13 shooting) and the shorthanded bench only scoring 16.
The road has been an uncomfortable journey for the Bucks this season, as they head west with an ugly 7-21 record away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee shoots roughly the same percentage on the road compared to their home court, but they score fewer points in addition to their defensive rating spiking from 103.8 to 108.3. Throughout the entire season, the Bucks have struggled to stay consistent, though their poor defensive mark has remarkably remained steady over the season's first three months.
Injury update: John Henson (sore lower back) will miss his third-straight contest, while O.J. Mayo (sore hamstring) and Greivis Vasquez (foot) are also still sidelined.
Sacramento returns home following a three-game road trip (0-3) themselves. Saturday they fell 121-117 in Memphis, a team the Bucks were blown out by early last week.
After a 12-0 run, the Kings erased a 15-point Grizzlies lead to four, 104-100. The Kings soon pulled within one, 118-117, after a 3-pointer from Darren Collison with 18.7 seconds left, however, Courtney Lee converted two free throws to make it 120-117 game. On the next possession, Collison lost the ball and sealed the contest late for the Grizzlies.
The last time the Kings faced the Bucks, they won and their fast-paced team managed to score 129 points against Milwaukee's struggling defense, the second-most they've scored in a non-OT game this season. Entering Monday, the Kings remain the fastest team in the league with a pace of 99.8, while the Bucks still rank near the bottom in defensive rating (109.3), with a pace unlikely to keep up with Sacramento's (93.6).
Per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, center DeMarcus Cousins is out for tonight's game after spraining his left ankle in Memphis. The Kings are 1-7 this season without Cousins, with their only win coming against the Bucks...of course. Fortunately for George Karl, he has one of the league's better backup centers in Kosta Koufos to slot in Cousins' spot, so while they'll clearly miss Cousins' multi-faceted offensive game, they should be just fine defensively.
Aside from their all-star center, the Kings will also be without starting shooting guard Ben McLemore (ankle), opening the door for James Anderson and Marco Belinelli to see a bump in minutes. Belinelli is clearly the better player, but our friends at Sactown Royalty think Anderson might get the start to keep Belinelli in his more familiar sixth man role.
|015/16 NBA Season|
|February 1, 2016|
|Sleep Train Arena | Sacramento|
|NBATV / FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Rajon Rondo|
|Khris Middleton||SG||James Anderson|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||SF||Rudy Gay|
|Jabari Parker||PF||Willie Cauley-Stein|
|Greg Monroe||C||Kosta Koufos|
|2015/16 Advanced Stats|
|93.6 (24th)||Pace||99.8 (1st)|
|104.1 (21st)||ORtg||105.6 (11th)|
|109.3 (29th)||DRtg||107.2 (20th)|