The Milwaukee Bucks tipped off their West Coast trip on Tuesday and came roundly back to earth within five minutes of the Clippers laying the 3-point smackdown on their deficient defense. Tonight, they head to the bay for a matchup with the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors who should have Kevin Durant and Draymond Green back tonight.
Tuesday’s game followed a similar blueprint, albeit with a below average offensive effort from the Bucks. Their scoring has been the only thing working lately, but the Clips somehow managed to contain even that on Tuesday. Defensively, the Clips headed through and around the Bucks at every juncture of the game, pausing only briefly in the third to give Bucks fans the fleeting pleasure of hope. Austin Rivers grabbed the dagger and stuffed it in the Bucks back with some off-balance clutch threes down the stretch. Milwaukee needs to hope Golden State’s lack of star power can give them some edge tonight, but considering the ragtag group LA just pummeled them with, I’m not optimistic. Thon Maker is also listed as doubtful for tonight’s game.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
If KD is indeed balling tonight, watching him and Giannis go toe-to-toe will be a treat on both ends of the court. KD had some defensive player of the year buzz early in the year thanks to his impressive rim protection, so Milwaukee will have to hope his injury hampers him enough to allow Giannis his usual reign around the rim. Defensively, the Bucks were entirely reliant on Giannis to deter shots in the paint against the Clippers and he will have a tall task matching Durant slinking around on the perimeter while aiding his befuddled Bucks beneath the rim.
The injuries ailing Steph Curry all year have hampered this team’s potential for another season of dominance, but even 20 losses feels like a lot for a team of this pedigree. They’ve clearly been coasting, angling for the playoffs and a likely tussle with the stratospheric Rockets. Milwaukee always seems to give Golden State a bit of trouble, but those have felt more like fleeting jump scares than truly frightening experiences. The Warriors won by 14 back in January at the Bradley Center and have won eight of the last nine against Milwaukee. Thinking about Milwaukee as the team with one of the highest potentials to disrupt the Warriors feels very laughable now. I’ll take an entertaining game with the outcome within single digits. In addition to Durant being probable, Draymond Green has been upgraded to probable after missing the last game with flu-like symptoms.
Player to Watch: Jordan Bell
Bell has been an impact rookie for the Warriors this year, using his athleticism to patrol the paint and switch defensively. How guys like Jabari Parker will keep their eyes on him dipping to the rim while Durant does his thing on the perimeter will make a huge difference in how Milwaukee’s backside defense looks tonight. I’m not optimistic. Bell’s stats are modest, but it gives the Warriors another useful player at the five when they want to downsize from the hulking Zaza Pachulia.