Yes, for the time being there is a bit of tranquility in Bucksdom following their sensationally exciting 119-116 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. The NBA rarely lets a good thing last for too long though and Milwaukee will have to try and keep the yule log roasting tonight with a win over Charlotte.
Despite the angst and turmoil that’s emerged from both Jason Kidd’s boneheaded choice to have Giannis miss a free throw that would’ve put them up four with seconds left and the Lebron tie-up with Giannis in the game, fans should feel somewhat positive with a strong win over an Eastern Conference contender.
Here’s a (somewhat) better quality video of LeBron stomping on Giannis pic.twitter.com/qQd4EXLyJW— TheBucksFans (@TheBucksFansIG) December 21, 2017
Giannis’ game-clinching steal and subsequent layup was icing on top of what was a delightfully sweet cake. A big three performance that led to 71 points from Milwaukee’s triumvirate was precisely what they needed after a troubling trio of losses the week prior. Milwaukee’s split their games with Charlotte thus far, so hopefully they can tip the scales tonight at home and finish it out in Buzz City for tomorrow’s back-to-back. It’s worth noting the Bucks hadn’t yet acquired Eric Bledsoe for either of those games, so he should be able to give Kemba Walker some fits defensively tonight.
Player to Watch: Khris Middleton
Middleton’s second game against the Hornets was when he finally seemed to snap from his early-season slump. His 43-point outburst on 5-11 shooting from deep wasn’t enough to help the Bucks emerge with a win, but it was the kind of scoring spree we hadn’t seen from him to that point in the season. Hopefully, a follow-up performance is in order tonight.
Charlotte has been a relative disappointment this year. Despite the return of Nicolas Batum and a bounceback year from Dwight Howard, they’re sitting at 11-20 and well outside of the Eastern Conference playoff race at the moment. Their last game was an 18-point drubbing by the world-beating Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night whereby Jeremy Lamb was their leading scorer with 32 points. Charlotte isn’t prone to the deep ball, ranking 24th in the league with 25.2 attempts per game, and much of their gameplan revolves around pick-and-rolls with Kemba Walker. Eric Bledsoe’s ability to power through those should come in handy tonight, as will Milwaukee’s more conservative scheme. With John Henson not showing quite as hard, Dwight Howard should face a bit more resistance at the rim, or Walker will at least have issues trying to funnel the ball through to the big man. Hopefully we’re not looking at a repeat of that abysmal Detroit game when Andre Drummond turned the Bucks into his personal playthings.
Also, both Johnny O’Bryant III and Michael Carter-Williams are set for revenge games tonight. As fate would have it, the God JOB even played six more minutes than Carter-Williams in their last game. What a world.
Player to Watch: Nicolas Batum
Batum missed both of the earlier games between these two teams. His stats have been abysmal so far this season (11.6 points and 5.5 assists per-36) and he’s hitting just 27.7% of 3.8 3-point attempts per game thus far. Watching him is mainly an exercise in seeing if Milwaukee’s defense gives him the chance to break out of his shooting slump. He can be a crafty creator, so Milwaukee’s wings will have to contain him from nearing the rim.