It feels like forever ago the Milwaukee Bucks we’re closing out October with a road game against their Eastern Conference rival, the Boston Celtics. That 116-105 loss may have left a lingering taste of superiority in Boston’s mind, so I’m sure Giannis and company would be happy to wash their mouths out with soap with a waxing in this one.
Since that aforementioned defeat, the Milwaukee Bucks have been a loving, breathing “Life is Good” shirt. They’re decimating weaker opponents to the tune of a historic point differential, on pace for 70 victories and fresh off another win against New York that was uncompetitive by the third quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo basically waved his hand at Bud when he felt his job was finished and left for the night with 37 points, nine board and four assists in merely 21 minutes. No starter played more than 26 minutes, Ersan got to put up 14 fairly effortlessly, it was a drubbing we’ve grown accustomed to against the Knicks. For more things to watch for in this one, check out this breakdown.
For Milwaukee, the latest injury report listed both Donte DiVincenzo and Wes Matthews as probable with finger sprains.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
The man has the unenvious task of guarding Kemba Walker, a job I’m sure he’ll hope to do better on than his first matchup when he was still smarting from a lingering injury to start the season. Not to mention his troubled history with the Celtics franchise. While “Scary” Terry Rozier, his poltergeist from a past life, may be gone, Bledsoe’s struggles have always seemed more mental than physical when it came to Brad Stevens club. For a notoriously nervous player, how he looks to start the contest may portend either doom or gloom for the rest of his evening.
Midway through the season, Boston finds itself ranked second in the East, ahead of Miami, Indy and Philly, with a significantly better stream of good vibes coming from their suddenly Kemba-induced Kumbaya (Kembaya? Let’s workshop this...) club. Of course, things probably weren’t so rosy on the flight over to Milwaukee after their “wait, what?” 116-103 loss against the Detroit Pistons last night. They were without Jayson Tatum, and a 1-0 performance from Marcus Smart in his stead surely didn’t help matters, but it’s still perplexing given the Pistons plummet down the standings. Who knows whether such a defeat will energize or deflate them, but playing on the second night of a back-to-back is usually a good sign for the squad on the other side of that equation. If Tatum is back for this one, the Celts will have their full fleet of switchable wings to deploy - and look for Hayward to be the difference maker potentially. He’s no longer the husk he was in last year’s playoff series. As a team encroaching upon a top-five ranking in both offensive and defensive rating, this will be a fitting test of Milwaukee’s fortitude on both ends of the court.
Jayson Tatum was probable but didn’t give it a go against the Pistons, so keep an eye out for updated injury reports to see if he gets activated. Robert Williams is out.
Player to Watch: Marcus Smart
Smart has always been a pest, no matter the opponent, so it won’t be a surprise when some action inevitably gets under Bucks’ fans skins in this one. I can already see his annoying body flying across the floor for some loose ball. The hardest part of his entire transformation has been the fact his 3-point jumper came around the past two years, leaving his critics with much less noise to toss his way. He is down to just 33% this year though and is coming just a 1-9 performance overall against the Pistons.
Game 43: Against Boston, 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)