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Bucks vs. Pelicans Preview: Half a Brow

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Bucks arrive in the Big Easy as the internal Pellies cold war continues

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Just because a game is clearly a schedule loss doesn’t make incurring an L any easier. The Bucks found that out the hard way dropping a tough (but winnable) road game against the San Antonio Spurs. Will an off day do Milwaukee wonders and get them back into the W column?

Bucks Update

So, how about those Pau Gasol minutes? While the defeat in San Antonio can’t be solely blamed on the 38 year-old, he certainly, ah, looked his age at times. He’ll continue to need time to get comfortable within the team concept, but it’s fair to wonder if there’s enough season left to move him from sieve to something less drastic.

The Bucks could use a shot in the arm on defense where they’ve struggled over recent weeks. New Orleans has the 22nd-rated offense since mid-February, but present a unique challenge as the fastest team by pace over that same period (107.9). Milwaukee showed itself as capable of keeping up with speedy teams (see: Sacramento Kings), so don’t be surprised if tonight morphs into “first to 115-120 wins” type of matchup.

There are no changes to the injury report with Sterling Brown and George Hill still out with no notable updates on their recovery timetables.

Player to Watch: Nikola Mirotic

There is serious “revenge game” potential as Nikola Mirotic returns to the place he called home the last calendar year. Since joining the Bucks Mirotic has averaged 21.9 minutes, 11.6 points (with .421/.391/.917 shooting splits) and 5.5 rebounds with highs of 18 points and eight rebounds mixed in. He should have the run of Smoothie King Center tonight as New Orleans struggles to fill forward minutes, starting or otherwise, and given the high number of threes the Pelicans give up (33.0 per game).

Pelicans Update

Siri, show me the definition of a slow-moving disaster.

New Orleans began the season on a promising note with offensive output at league-leading levels, but injuries happened, losses followed, and the dreaded Rubicon was crossed: Anthony Davis requested a trade. None of that is unprecedented. We entered murky waters the moment the Pellies deigned to retain AD in hopes of better future trade offers before supposedly being commanded by the NBA to play him or face per game fines of $100K. The result? A disunited and lukewarm roster eroding into a pile of radioactive waste (and roughly 20 ho-hum nightly minutes from Davis).

At least they fired Dell Demps? I don’t know, man. The whole situation is an ongoing tire-fire that won’t be resolved until the offseason. They’ve beaten the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz on the road recently, but have dropped three straight. Are they dead and bloated? No, but the proverbial Titanic is listing heavily in the water and only needs a slight push from the Bucks to go completely under.

Jrue Holiday is out with an abdominal strain and E’Twaun Moore also remains sidelined with quad troubles.

Player to Watch: Julius Randle

With Davis on a minutes restriction and injuries aplenty, Julius Randle seems a natural selection for tonight’s player to watch. He’s dangerous on offense, so how coach Budenholzer deals with his presence will be something to watch. Over his last seven games he’s averaged 25.6 points (.477/.355/.772), 6.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. In the only other meeting between these teams earlier this season Randle was inactive, so how does he shift NOP’s look?


Poll

Game 68: Against the Pelicans the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (185 votes)
  • 18%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (43 votes)
  • 3%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (1 vote)
237 votes total Vote Now