We all know how poorly Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers went for the Milwaukee Bucks. That brutal 22-point loss came without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will again miss tonight’s tilt against the Suns to rest his sore knee.
Milwaukee is in danger of falling to .500 tonight for the first time since November 25th, when they were 9-9 after a loss to the Utah Jazz. Bucks fans had little to get excited about Saturday in the absence of Giannis, sans some Sterling Brown rowdiness and a career-first triple double for Khris Middleton. At least the Bucks already have some experience playing Phoenix without their star, needing overtime to take down Phoenix 113-107 back on November 22nd. Middleton broke out of an early season slump that night to erupt for 40 points and the Bucks will likely need that production to pull out a win tonight.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
With no Giannis, the best we can do to drum up interest for this game is sensationalize how much Bledsoe still wants revenge against his former squad. After being rescued from the desert early in the season, Bledsoe went off for 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds in his first chance to show Suns owner Robert Sarver what he thought of them shutting him completely out of basketball for a stretch. Bledsoe went just 5-18 against Philadelphia and has continued to struggle shooting the basketball of late. Snapping out of that funk would be a fitting way to help us forget about no Giannis, at least for a night.
The Suns are fresh off a 108-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets last Friday night where Devin Booker went off for 30 points on 11-23 shooting. That brought their season record to 17-29, tied with the Lakers for 12th best record in the Western Conference. Phoenix tossed coach Earl Watson to the curb early in the year and interim coach Jay Triano has gotten better results to this point. They won just 24 games all of last year and should easily eclipse that barring a horrendous collapse this year. Still, they rank in the bottom-five for offensive and defensive rating, but do play a fast style with their fleet of young guys, Booker, the diminutive Tyler Ulis, shifty T.J. Warren and lanky Dragan Bender. Unfortunately, poor Greg Monroe has barely gotten off the bench for Phoenix of late, so we will have to settle for Jared Dudley as our token former Buck as Brandon Knight is missing the entire year with a torn ACL.
Player to Watch: Devin Booker
I wish I could get that revenge narrative stirring here again with Monroe (who went for 22 and 15 against Milwaukee last time), but it’s unlikely we will see him unless Triano feels like letting loose a vengeful moose. In the interim, we may as well watch Devin Booker chuck up shots in his duel with Khris Middleton. Middleton won out last time, outscoring Booker by 17, but he’s Phoenix’s most consistent scorer alongside T.J. Warren. The Suns rank just 20th in 3-pointers attempted per game (27.4), but there’s no spot on the floor Booker doesn’t think looks like fitting to try from.