The Bucks went down to Dallas last night and clobbered the Mavs with 80 points in the paint and blah blah blah whatever IT’S (maybe) MIROTIC TIME!
Fine, I guess I should do more than mention last night’s game.
Fresh off of a flurry of trade deadline moves, the Bucks visited a decidedly drained Dallas Mavericks team and secure another victory. Milwaukee could have suffered fits and starts with Khris Middleton out for rest, but, uh, they just whooped up on a Dallas team that set a franchise record with 22 made threes.
The season’s priorities have now solidly shifted from “proving” Milwaukee’s viability to doing everything possible to secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. With last night’s win the Bucks now sit two games ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the East’s top seed, and upcoming games against Orlando, Chicago, Indiana, Boston, and Minnesota all offer opportunities to cushion the lead while making a few statements along the way. Oh, and the Bucks need one more win to match their total of two seasons ago, and three more to reach last season’s mark. Madness.
Per the Bucks website no one has yet been listed on the injury report, so perhaps it’s all hands on deck.
The Bucks are giving Giannis Antetokounmpo the night off for rest while Mirotic is listed as doubtful.
Nikola Mirotic is doubtful (right calf strain) tonight. pic.twitter.com/eVRLShlb95— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 9, 2019
Player to Watch: Nikola Mirotic (?)
Coach Mike Budenholzer was mum after the deadline regarding Nikola’s timeline to join the team, but there is every possibility he makes his Bucks debut this evening. Discussions about his theoretical fit within Milwaukee’s offense will never compare to seeing it in practice, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to put his .568 3PAr and .242 DReb% to the test against an Orlando Magic team that allows the sixth-fewest opponent three attempts (29.5) and nabs the fourth-highest number of offensive rebounds (9.3).
I’m not sure there’s any man more accustomed to serving two masters than Buck-turned-Magic executive John Hammond. With Orlando sitting at 23-32 and out of the playoff picture, they could have jettisoned their vets and lost like mad men. That seemed like a real possibility when the Magic acquired former first-overall pick Markelle Fultz from the 76ers in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, a future protected first, and a future second. Then... nothing else. Orlando retained the rest of its roster and sounds ready to make a run at the post-season. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before:
“Magic standouts Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross will be two of the team’s most significant unrestricted free agents in the offseason. Orlando retained those key pieces through the trade deadline and hope that the franchise can make a push toward the playoffs over the next two months.”
Chasing ephemeral playoff appearances is a hell of a thing.
Oh, and young guys Markelle Fultz (shoulder) and Mo Bamba (tibia stress fracture) are out.
Player to Watch: Terrence Ross
In fairness to the logic of keeping Ross he is either at or above career-highs in scoring, shooting percentages, and rebounding. His nine Q3 points in three minutes the last time these teams met was an example of his ability to provide brief scoring punches. He’s averaged 18.3 points (.440/.361/.885) and 4.0 rebounds over his last 15 appearances, so there’s every possibility he helps Orlando keep pace with a hot night from the floor. I’m sure he’ll be valuable in helping the Magic into a first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks.
Game 55: Against the Magic, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)