Fresh off a Friday news dump that was as rich as any half hour in Milwaukee Bucks news this season, this team split their back to back games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. Saturday’s game featured one of the strangest starting lineups I’ve seen in some time with Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe shelved with injuries. While the jumbo lineup couldn’t get the job done, winning a back to back in Utah even at full strength would’ve proved a mountainous order. Thankfully the task at hand is a little more manageable for Milwaukee, who will hope to avoid breaking two different streaks should they lose tonight. How ironic would it be if the Phoenix Suns are both the first team to hand Milwaukee two losses in a row, and the first team to beat them twice? I’m choosing to reject that reality for the time being. It also doesn’t look like Brogdon or Bledsoe will be on the injury report for tonight’s game.
Player to Watch: Brook Lopez
DeAndre Anton has been the flashy rookie for the Suns, but like any first year, hid defensive growing pains have been significant. Trying to keep up with Lopez’s floor-bending 7-foot game is tough for league veterans, let alone a guy still in the defensive deep end. Look for Lopez to take advantage of the rook whenever possible.
Things are looking up in Phoenix, kinda! After a 17-game losing streak, they’ve officially won two out of their last three, toppling both the Lakers and the Heat. In what’s seemed like a pretty cloud-covered year, that’s something to latch onto. Additionally, DeAndre Ayton went for 26 points and 10 rebounds against the Lakers as he continues his freshman trek through the league. Beyond that though, the Suns just don’t have a lot going for them. The big change since their last matchup with Milwaukee is they did get another capable ball handler by trading for Tyler Johnson from the Heat. He’ll pair with Devin Booker in their backcourt, but Suns fans are likely drooling for a chance at Ja Morant or one of the Duke guards in this upcoming draft should they not get a shot at Zion Williamson.
While they allow the sixth fewest frequency of threes by their opponents, they are dead last in that category at the rim. They’re near the bottom-five in terms of protecting the rim as well. Pray for the rims in Talking Stick Resort Arena tonight folks, they’ll need it. T.J. Warren will be out for the Suns.
Player to Watch: Devin Booker
Booker is right around his averages from last season in terms of counting stats, a robust 24.7 points and four rebounds, but the notable uptick has come for assists. He’s up to 6.7 per game this season on right around the same usage rate (31.6%). Going along with additional ball handling duties is a slightly higher turnover rate, but the revolving door of sub-par point guards in first year coach Igor Kokoskov’s system has meant Booker’s needed to be a playmaker as well. It’ll be nice to have some guards back to try and contain him.
Game 64: Against the Suns 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)