The Milwaukee Bucks have been in a rut of late, losing six of their last seven against teams in the playoffs or hunting for a spot. Now, they get a brief break to try and beef up their W-L against the Knicks, Grizz, Magic and Hawks. First up, New York.
Milwaukee played the Houston Rockets well enough on Wednesday to avoid getting blown off the court, but they were never able to make a sizable dent in Houston’s lead and push themselves over the edge. Giannis took the authoritative role, scoring 30 points with just one assist for the night. Houston got up its trademark 40 threes and hit five more of them than Milwaukee and tallied four more free throws. There’s essentially the game folks. The good news is that Khris Middleton looked aggressive again after a limping, seven shot performance on Monday in Indiana. Milwaukee last faced New York back on February 5th and put them down 103-89. That was also the game Kristaps Porzingis went down with what was later revealed as a torn ACL. I will miss the Giannis-Zinger duels tonight.
Player to Watch: Tony Snell
This is a dude who was near the tops of the league in 3-point percentage in the early months of the season. Yes, that proficiency was bound to dip, but he’s mired in the kind of slump Milwaukee needs their fifth starter to crack out of if they hope to make a playoff push. Since February 1st he’s at only 33.3%, so Milwaukee must hope he returns closer to his 41.0% season average. He’s looked relatively invisible, but his bit piece role is the kind of consistent production Milwaukee needs to bank on going forward.
The Knicks made a trade deadline move to deepen their point guard rotation, acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay from the Denver Nuggets. Curiously, that acquisition also made it harder for their rookie, Frank Ntilikina to get playing time, but he has entered the starting lineup with the shooting-challenged Mudiay at shooting guard. Unsurprisingly, that illogical setup without their best player isn’t exactly going swimmingly for New York. They’ve dropped 13 of their last 14, including a 24-point loss on Wednesday to the Trailblazers. The Knicks are hapless and should be shamelessly tanking. Milwaukee cannot afford to drop a stinker like this.
Player to Watch: Michael Beasley
I’m not really sure who else to put here. Frankie Smokes had just six points against the Blazers, Mudiay only three and the bottom half of New York’s roster reads like a series of create-a-players from NBA 2K. At the very least, the entertainment value of Beas doing his thang (16 points on 8/13 shooting Wednesday), is probably the only redeemable quality of this current iteration of the Big Apple’s basketballers.