Milwaukee entered its second game without former head coach Jason Kidd on Friday and promptly pummeled the Brooklyn Nets. Here’s hoping that momentum carries over to today’s matinee against the Chicago Bulls.
As every Bucks fan knows by now, the biggest news of last week was head coach Jason Kidd heading on home to collect his heavy severance checks. The Bucks front office axed the long time head coach and installed Joe Prunty as team commander for the duration of the season. The initial results are pretty positive, with Milwaukee putting forth a 116-91 winning effort to give Prunty a two-game winning streak after narrowly taking down Phoenix. We still have little idea about Prunty’s actual coaching chops, but coaxing two wins out of a team that faced such an abrupt transition within a week is a promising start.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis missed the previous two games before Brooklyn as a precautionary measure for his knee, but he came back in force against Brooklyn on Friday. His 41 point, 13 rebound, seven assist night in just 32 minutes is absurd, but also lines up with his offhand comments about missing basketball so dearly. While he is unlikely to go 3-3 from deep again, his emphatic and downright domineering performance gave Milwaukee an easy win over Brooklyn.
Chicago’s midseason surge seems to have dissipated. Presently, they sit at just 18-31 after their lowly loss to the Los Angeles Lakers last Friday night. What was perhaps most depressing was the fact no player got above 20 points, with Nikola Mirotic as the high man at 18 despite shooting just 5-13. Embarrassingly, Milwaukee has yet to beat the Hoiberg Hive this year in two games, so they better hope that rough stretch finally comes to an end this afternoon against the piddly Bulls. Zach LaVine will also be playing in his first game against Milwaukee after being traded from the Timberwolves in the offseason and returning from his torn ACL.
Player to Watch: Nikola Mirotic
Mirotic has been in trade talks already for the Bulls despite being their best player for the brunt of his time with the squad this year. His strong 3-point propensity means plenty for a team hoping to space the floor and even shots he misses can open up the paint for Robin Lopez offensive rebounds or Lauri Markkanen to try and throw his lengthy body against Milwaukee’s turnstile defensive boards. The latter is far more unlikely than the former, but Mirotic has gone for 22 and 24 respectively in the Bulls two wins over Milwaukee.