It’s starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day around here, what with the Milwaukee Bucks playing the same team repeatedly week after week. This time, it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers with that distinction, as the Bucks look for some home cooked revenge after the Cavs narrow win in Cleveland less than a week ago.
Did you know a healthy Giannis Antetokounmpo can make a decent difference? He helped the Bucks drub the Miami Heat on a Friday night clash, 116-87, notching 27 in his return to action. If he’s in the lineup against the Cavaliers, I have a feeling the Bucks won’t get outscored in the paint as they did last time out in Cleveland. Currently, he’s questionable with that ankle sprain issue we saw flare up against the Heat. It seems like having decent guard depth aids the cause as well. The return of George Hill and Sterling Brown should diminish Tim Frazier’s time in the backcourt. If nothing else, let’s hope this game can wipe any memory of that horrific shooting performance in Cleveland from our minds. Beyond Giannis, it’s the usual suspects out between Mirotic, Brogdon and DiVincenzo, along with Pau Gasol, who will miss a month with a new issue.
Bucks center Pau Gasol is expected to miss approximately one month with a left ankle injury, league sources tell ESPN. He joins Nikola Mirotic and Malcolm Brogdon as among those likely out for the regular season.— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) March 24, 2019
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
If Bled is feeling feisty, he’ll probably be perturbed that Collin Sexton essentially won out in their point guard battle, leading the Cavs to victory while posting a more efficient shooting night. He was quiet and ineffective against the Heat, going 3-10 for just nine points and almost worse, only one assist and one rebound. Even on nights he doesn’t have the shooting touch, he’s found ways to fill up his box score. Hopefully, he’s firing on all cylinders with a little pep in his step to shut down Sexton’s recent scoring barrage.
In their lone game since the Bucks played them, they lost a close 110-108 battle against the Los Angeles Clippers. It also marked the first time in eight games Sexton wasn’t the leading scorer (20), as Kevin Love went for 22. Love was whisper quiet against the Bucks last time, hitting just 1-10, so he may be due from some sweet shooting progression to the mean. Does anyone else feel like Sexton’s emergence and the Cavaliers mild success feels like one of those late season storylines that gets read into, but doesn’t really translate into the next season? It feels like the malaise of late March always creates these types of opportunities for teams or players to succeed, but it winds up being more fool’s gold than anything. I don’t know, I hope for any fanbase’s sake this type of stuff portends success for the future, but the thought just crossed my mind. Both Delly and John Henson are out for this game.
Player to Watch: Jordan Clarkson
Quietly, Clarkson has gone off for 23 in both of his last contests against the Bucks. Given free reign to usurp the offense now that the Cavaliers are in the league’s basement, he’s taken full advantage with the highest usage rate of his career. His 52.9% shooting (9-17) last time out well exceeded his 44% field goal percentage this season. Look for him to come back to Earth in this matchup.
Game 74: Against the Cavs, 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)