When last we previewed a Bucks game, it was in the aftermath of a horrific choke job high in the Rocky Mountains. Today, a more joyous tone is worthwhile after dispatching an admittedly hobbled Celtics squad. They take on a plucky Nets team embroiled in a race to the bottom they will net nothing from.
Milwaukee may have taken it down to the wire in a game without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier, but a wins a win at this point. They rode a commited, if somewhat ineffecient, Giannis Antetokounmpo performance that ended with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. The rest of KEG plus Jabari Parker went 20/32 from the field though, shoring up the scoring effort with a cool 50. Middleton shook off a Denver disaster too and almost notched a triple-double. Milwaukee last bested the Nets 109-94 on February 4th during the salad days of Prunty’s reign. Those games featured the stretch of abhorrent opponent 3-point shooting that gave Milwaukee a defensive boost that’s long gone now. Brooklyn shot only 27% on 63 attempts in the two games they last played in late January/early February against Milwaukee. Expect that to change a bit tonight.
Player to Watch: Tyler Zeller
Not only has Zeller given Milwaukee solid, productive minutes featuring competent catching and finishing, but tonight will be his first chance at revenge against his former team. While he joined Milwaukee before their last game against Brooklyn, he didn’t get the chance to play, likely as he was holed up enjoying his final weekend in New York before shipping to the Cream City.
Once more, Brooklyn will be without their pick in this year’s draft. That’s given them plenty of incentive to actually play hard under second-year coach Kenny Atkinson, who’s installed a fast, trigger-happy offense he brought along from Atlanta. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games, which included an OT win against the Heat. However, they just suffered a 26-point spanking by the Sixers on Tuesday night. Brooklyn has nothing to play for but pride, Milwaukee has plenty to play for including their own pick if they manage to outstrip Miami and Washington in their own conference. This is one you can’t afford to screw up. Sorry to those who believe in jinxes.
Player to Watch: D’Angelo Russell
I know he will probably never live up to his potential, but I really enjoy watching his crafty, slow-go game. His southpaw passes through tight lanes are enjoyable, even if he doesn’t seem confident in his ability to dominate in the frontcourt. Hopefully, Eric Bledsoe can bottle him up.