After a dogfight of a game against Denver, the Milwaukee Bucks once again play host to a top tier Western Conference team, as the Portland Trail Blazers roll in with the best record in the West and one game already in the bag against Milwaukee.
Portland might boast the top record in the West, but Milwaukee has one fewer loss and sits firmly in the Eastern Conference’s second seed, looking up only at the 14-4 Toronto Raptors. It hasn’t been a cakewalk, either: the Bucks have played the fifth-most difficult schedule (per basketball-reference), and their opponents have a current combined record of 143-116. The teams Milwaukee has played thus far have a winning percentage of 0.552, and over the last six games (starting with these same Blazers), that number jumps up to 0.588, which is even dragged down by the 4-13 Chicago Bulls! So much has changed between this year and last, especially when the team is faced with adversity.
Talking to Giannis about the differences playing for Bud vs. Kidd was really enlightening today.— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) November 20, 2018
I made a statement about last night being a game they would have lost last yr & Giannis cut me off before my question to praise Bud.
Then @eric_nehm followed it up nicely: pic.twitter.com/z0YIn4W7eR
The injured list will be occupied again by D.J. Wilson (hamstring), Donte DiVincenzo (quad), and John Henson (wrist).
Player to Watch: Malcolm Brogdon
With things in Milwaukee going so well, it sometimes feels like we’re just looking for things to critique, partially out of caution and partially out of habit. However, Malcolm Brogdon has had an up-and-down start to his season, even if stats don’t show it. His regular and per-36 production is either the same or up from 2017-18, and his shooting has ticked up. On the other hand, his assist rate is down, turnover rate is up, and his propensity to pound the ball into the dirt grates against fans who appreciate the increased ball movement under Mike Budenholzer. It might be somewhat of a slump: Brogdon is -25 over the Bucks’ last 7 games, and in typical fashion, it’s making fans question just how much his future in Milwaukee is worth.
Things are going pretty well in the City of Roses, even if there’s some interest in making a splashy move. Damian Lillard (26.7 points, 6.2 assists, 5.4 rebounds per game) is quietly accumulating stats at an MVP pace, and C.J. McCollum (21.4 points/game) is maintaining his status as a supreme scorer as well. With a top-5 offense and a top-10 defense, the Blazers have excelled at controlling the pace, protecting the ball (2nd-best turnover rate), and hitting shots (both quality and otherwise) at a high rate. The Blazers were the first team to capitalize on the Bucks’ weakness – or perhaps strength? – for allowing midrange jumpers, and they will likely try to repeat that pattern tonight.
For the Blazers, they will be without Seth Curry (knee) and Maurice Harkless (knee) tonight.
Player to Watch: Evan Turner
What was that about midrange jumpers? Evan Turner killed the Bucks in the second half last time they squared off, to the tune of a season-high 16 points (going 7/12 from the field), 11 boards, and 4 assists. Everybody knows the damage that Lillard and McCollum can do as starters, but Turner has fashioned himself as a dynamite do-it-all leader off the bench. If he’s hot, the Bucks are in trouble: despite shooting only 18.2% from deep this season, his season-high in 3PM came against Milwaukee a few weeks ago.
(He made 2 against the Bucks.)
Game 17: Against the Blazers, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)