Hear that sound? It’s a rushing wind as every Bucks fan lets out a healthy sigh of relief after the Bucks beat the Indiana Pacers to get back to winning ways. But wait, what’s that buzzing noise? Oh, no... the Charlotte Hornets are in town! Run!
A two game losing streak? Fine, no biggie, even the best of teams can go through a slump. A three game losing streak, though? Why, I never!
Good thing the Milwaukee Bucks saved us all from having to take a good long look in the mirror by outpacing the Pacers Thursday night in a 117-98 victory. The first half was a grinding affair with neither team able to create much in the way of separation, but all it took was one second-half technical foul and Giannis Antetokounmpo was off to the races. He’d finish with 29 points and got a heaping bit of help from co-star Khris Middleton’s efficient 27 points.
That now pushes Milwaukee to a 26-5 mark at home and keeps them 2.5 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the East’s top spot. The only thing standing between them and reaching that oh so sacred 50-win mark tonight are those pesky Hornets.
Sterling Brown and George Hill remain out with their wrist and adductor injuries, respectively.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
The general formula for stopping the Hornets can be broken into a simple flow chart:
Can you contain Kemba Walker?
- If yes, congrats, you probably win!
- If no, sorry, but things are going to be tough.
The load falls on Eric Bledsoe’s broad shoulders as the point man responsible for blowing up Charlotte’s sets at the point of attack every time down the court. There’s no possible way for Bledsoe to restrict Walker on every possession, but making his life difficult should go a long way to allowing Milwaukee a pathway to a 3-1 season series mark against the Hornets.
It’s going to be tight all the way to April for Charlotte as they ride that thin line between playoff living and dying night after night. They come to Milwaukee tonight after surviving a 112-111 encounter with the Washington Wizards in Charlotte. A timely Jeremy Lamb three was enough to get them over the top, though a 30 point outing for Marvin Williams certainly didn’t hurt.
Most importantly the high stakes meant Kemba Walker had to play 36 minutes while hoisting 19 shots; banking on a star being too tired to change a game is never a safe strategy, but don’t be surprised if the dynamic play of Walker is a bit dampened. It certainly helps that he’s been in a shooting slump posting merely a 28.1% mark from the floor over his last three appearances.
On the health side the Hornets appear to be at full strength, though Bismack Biyombo was held out yesterday against the Wiz with a day-to-day knee injury.
Player to Watch: Jeremy Lamb
Lamb was always a scoring threat, it was more a matter of consistency that would determine his status as a viable NBA wing. Under the aegis of coach James Borrego, Lamb has seen a leap into career-highs for scoring and rebounds (15.1 and 5.2 per game, respectively). His numbers have remained in-line with seasonal averages since getting moved to a sixth-man role at the end of February, but he remains dangerous during those short stints when the likes of Pat Connaughton or Donte DiVincenzo are tasked with guarding him.
Game 66: Against the Hornets 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)