While there’s truly no place like home, two days spent relaxing in the surf and sun of Miami comes in as a close second. The Milwaukee Bucks enter tonight’s game against the Miami Heat rested, refreshed, and with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans in hand.
Shoot 27.8% from three and still put up 130 points? That’s the Milwaukee Bucks for you.
It was a decidedly starter-heavy night offensively for Milwaukee as they once again showed themselves capable of maintaining a prolific scoring rate against pace-reliant teams. A 45-point third quarter for Milwaukee was nearly matched by New Orleans’s 41, but in the war of offensive attrition it was Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton’s combined 47 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists that won out. Middleton’s brief flights of fancy in distribution were especially notable:
Khris was swishin' and dishin' in the SWEEP of the Pelicans!!— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 13, 2019
23 PTS | 7 AST | 5 REB pic.twitter.com/0cEs4BP4V8
Since Tuesday, the Bucks have had a few days to unwind on the Atlantic coast before attempting to rectify a prior Miami loss this season. Miami is not an especially talented team, but its top flight coaching and endless supply of guys willing to body Giannis present a quirk for coach Budenholzer to solve. Plus there’s the (theoretical) psychological impact of dropping both road games against a potential first-round playoff matchup. The stakes aren’t huge, but they aren’t to be ignored.
Injury-wise the report only shows Sterling Brown as out with his wrist injury, which means...
Player to Watch: George Hill
Might we finally get Hill back into the fold? With his status having been upgraded to probable, it feels likely that George will make his re-apperance after missing nine straight games with an adductor strain. You don’t imagine he’ll get mainline minutes right away, but the return of Hill as the primary backup point guard is welcome, if only to restore balance to Milwaukee’s rotation.
Miami stands as an example of just how quickly the fortunes of NBA teams can rise and fall. One moment you have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the next all three are out of town for varying reasons. Then, you inexplicably doubl-down on a 41-41 team helmed by... Dion Waiters? OK.
Still, Erik Spoelstra has done his best to utilize the potential of a middling roster and has had the Heat humming as of late winning five of their last six. That includes a smacking of the once-streaking Detroit Pistons in a 108-74 win. The Heat ran off a 21-0 scoring burst after halftime and held Detroit to eight whole points in the quarter. When Miami is on defensively they can be a proper pain in the rear, especially inside the three-point line where the Heat hold opponents to the league’s second-lowest attempts and two-point percentage (53.7 & 49.5%). That they’re more susceptible to allowing opponents to get it going from outside hands Milwaukee an option with which to bend the Heat at-will if the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo is having a tough night inside.
In regards to injuries it looks like Dwyane Wade is questionable with an elbow injury.
Player to Watch: Justise Winslow
I’ve long ragged on Winslow not because I dislike him as a player or person, but because he was touted as Miami’s “next game-breaking find” when drafted in the mid-lottery. While he hasn’t totally lived up to that lofty billing he appears to have rounded into more complete form in the final year before restricted free agency. He’s always been a solid defender, but his capability as a scorer has increased. If he can bother the likes of Khris Middleton while the rest of the team tackles Giannis, tonight may prove to be difficult going.
Game 69: Against the Heat the Bucks will...
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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)