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Bucks vs. Clippers Preview: Bucks Back in the Saddle Against Clippers

Los Angeles comes to town with their full arsenal of stars available

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks posted another dispiriting performance against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, falling 110-98 in a game where the final score doesn’t nearly reflect the whipping Denver put on the Bucks. The Clippers are coming off a similar trouncing, theirs at the hands of the Houston Rockets, who beat them 122-103.

Bucks Update

Milwaukee looked rudderless, devoid of energy and beaten down in their game against Denver. Even after falling behind by 20 in the first half, they failed to mount any sort of counterpunch outside of some spirited shotmaking by Khris Middleton. The team’s body language is approaching season-low levels, with Giannis in particular continuing to struggle.

He’s being suffocated by help defenders, probing on a pick-and-roll and quickly backing away, without the confidence to sink a jumper the way he was at least letting it fly earlier in the season. He had only 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists on the night. There’s clearly something chomping tn the core of this team, with nobody besides maybe Malcolm Brogdon bringing any sort of consistency. Even Brogdon played only average against Denver, outplayed by the sporadic shooting spree of Matthew Dellavedova late in the game.

Their inability against the league’s worst defense was troubling. They started Rashad Vaughn and Thon Maker, to, I don’t know, feign an interest in developing young players? Or just have change for the sake of change. Either way, it didn’t work and both of them wound up playing less than ten minbutes on the night. Mirza Teletovic similarly remained chained to the bench for the most part.

The aimlessness of the Bucks’ current trajectory feels even more acute when Michael Beasley is out, who, alongside Greg Monroe, at least give you a consistent offensive game. At present though, they’ll have to figure out a way to reacquire any sense of rhythm on either end of the court.

It was reported that the Milwaukee Bucks would sign Terrence Jones for the remainder of the season, but they haven’t made that signing official as of publication. The report said he probably wouldn’t join the team until Saturday though, so don’t expect him to be available for tonight’s game. Otherwise, Michael Beasley is the only other Buck that’s unavailable.

Clippers Update

An injury-plagued franchise hasn’t shed its curse this year, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin missing extended time with ailments. However, they’re finally back to full strength now, a condition that didn’t help them against Houston, who hit twenty threes on an overwhelming 52 attempts.

This will only be Chris Paul’s third game back from his thumb injury, but the team hasn’t quite shown the machismo it flashed early in the season. Indeed, since that bombing run stretch through November when they posted a stingy 98.9 defensive rating and +10.1 net rating, they’ve actually sported a -0.3 net rating. Their offense remains deadly as ever, ranked seventh in the league, but that initially stout defense has slipped to 15th.

Even with the team working to find its chemistry again since Paul and Griffin’s return, their familiarity with one another shouldn’t make that a difficult task. Paul is obviously an excellent passer and puppetmaster on the court, toying with defenses until the optimum moment to whirl passes. Beyond averaging 11.3 assists per-36, Paul also has a career high three-point attempt rate at 39.5%, a figure nearly ten points higher than his previous peak. Not to mention the fact he’s shooting 40% on those. Milwaukee is assuredly hoping his injury may derail some of those gaudy stats.

Blake Griffin remains a force in the frontcourt. His stats are in line with his career averages, and he’s getting to the line nearly 10% more than he did during last year’s troubled campaign. Deandre Jordan continues to rebound and transport balls through the hoop with authority and aplomb. J.J. Redick isn’t quite at the preposterous 47.5% from deep he was last year, but he’s still hitting 41.6% on a little over six attempts per game. These four know how to play together, and Milwaukee will have to work in consort to tag the rolling Jordan, chase Redick around, contain Chris Paul and prevent Griffin from battering to the rim. A tall order for any team, let alone one in the midst of a funk like this Bucks team.

Wisconsin native Diamond Stone is the only Clipper that’s unavailable tonight.