The Milwaukee Bucks will host the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon as the Bucks look to build on Friday night’s impressive overtime win against the Toronto Raptors. Today also marks the birthday bash for Milwaukee’s mascot, Bango! The Bucks are 2-0 in games that doubled as mascot birthday celebrations (Chicago and Orlando). A win over the Pelicans would be a great gift for Bango, and for everyone else, really.
Coming out fresh from the All-Star break, the Bucks went ahead and pulled out the unexpected victory over the Raptors on the road.
The unprojected victory against the Raptors cancelled out the unprojected loss against the Nuggets, and now the Bucks are again projected to finish 4th/5th along with the Sixers.— Dean Maniatt (@AllTheBucks) February 24, 2018
The win was a much needed boost for the team as they recorded a victory over a legit opponent after a series of wins over lottery teams. KEG combined for 68 of Milwaukee’s 122 points and Giannis Antetkounmpo led the trio with 26 points, including the step-back jumper that put the game away. John Henson returned to the lineup Friday night, after taking time off to heal a tweaked hamstring, and tallied a season-high 35 minutes of playing time. Jabari Parker continued to show signs of improvement as he continued to flash instances of his explosive game.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Over his last five games, Bledsoe has shot better than 50 percent in all but one of those games (35.7 percent against the Atlanta Hawks) and has averaged 19.8 points and seven assists per game. One of the biggest signs of improvement has been his ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc. Bledsoe is converting on half of his three-point attempts during this five game stretch. His offensive impact is starting to match his defensive impact and with the Pelicans trotting out a guard-heavy lineup, he will be put to the test on the defensive end of the floor.
New Orleans matched Milwaukee’s overtime victory with one of their own. They knocked off the Miami Heat, 124-123, on Friday night to get their second half started on the right foot. The Pelicans are 5-5 since DeMarcus Cousins suffered his devastating Achilles injury on January 26th, but have won each of their last four ball games. New Orleans is near the top of the league in field goal conversion (48.2 percent) and they can get their buckets from either inside or outside. It would be very Bucks-y for former Buck, DeAndre Liggins, to have a revenge game this afternoon and have some of his wild, out of control heaves to the hoop actually go in.
Player to Watch: Anthony Davis
Davis has been a man among boys over the past four games averaging an unreal 42.3 points, 14.8 rebounds, 3.8 steal, and three blocks. The All-Star has also converted on nearly 56 percent of his 27.8 shots per game over these last four contests. Davis is absolutely rolling; he might be the hottest a player has ever been going into a game against the Bucks. The battle between Davis and Antetokounmpo will be what draws the League Pass eyes this afternoon.