Good morning, Bucks fans! Get some coffee, do your chores early, and settle in for some NBA basketball at an ungodly hour, as your Milwaukee Bucks start their four-game East Coast road trip with a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
Friday night’s game against the Knicks had it all; Jabari Parker’s long-awaited return, a Giannis Antetokounmpo game-winner, and Sterling Brown taking no nonsense from a much bigger, more accomplished player.
Aw heck no. Porzingis bounces the ball off the back of Sterling’s head. pic.twitter.com/3p0A33jMUE— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) February 3, 2018
Sterling Brown is a certified MFer, not sure Porzingis knows that.— Dean Maniatt (@AllTheBucks) February 3, 2018
Results aside, Friday’s game was difficult to watch, and even interim head coach Joe Prunty admitted how it maybe didn’t have the best look, but that’s okay because he loves it for it’s personality. Jabari will likely be held under 20 minutes again, as he continues to work his way to playing form, and the Bucks will continue to figure out how to adjust with him back in the fold.
Malcolm Brogdon and Mirza Teletovic are the only players appearing on the injured list for today’s matineé, while Jason Terry continues to attend to a personal matter. This game also is the second-to-last contest before Thursday’s trade deadline, and while the Bucks aren’t expected to be major players, there’s always a chance that somebody sits for longer than expected.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe perhaps should sit for longer than he might otherwise, because he was dreadful on Friday against the Knicks, in no small part due to his nagging ankle injury. While the Bucks do have Matthew Dellavedova, Sean Kilpatrick, and Xavier Mumford (on a two-way) available to fill in at point guard, Bledsoe provides a different dynamic when he’s on the floor, and it will be worth watching to see if he moves better than he has of late.
At 19-34, Brooklyn continues to be on the outside looking in, most recently losing a close game to the Lakers while dropping five of their last six. They play at a lightning-quick pace and can light it up from deep (second in the NBA in 3PA at 34.0 attempts/game), but without any top-end players on the roster they routinely come up short with their squad of middling veterans and still-developing youth. On the injury front, Jeremy Lin is out for the year with a patella tear, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is questionable with a groin injury.
Player to Watch: Caris LeVert
Brooklyn’s low-drafted do-it-all forward is enjoying a quietly productive sophomore season off the bench, and he actually led the Nets in minutes the last time they played Milwaukee. He serves as something of a bellwether for Brooklyn; when he has it rolling, things get easier for teammates like D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Spencer Dinwiddie, and rookie Jarrett Allen. LeVert is, however, also recovering from a groin injury of his own, so keeping an eye on him will, like with Bledsoe for the Bucks, determine where the rest of Brooklyn’s supporting cast fits in.