If you made afternoon plans that don’t involve the Bucks, cancel them! The Milwaukee Bucks will visit every hipster’s favorite borough when they play the Brooklyn Nets today, with an early 5:00pm (central time) tip.
The Bucks are 37-6. The Bucks have a historically high point differential. The Bucks have the reigning MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year. The Bucks love playing with one another and have no internal strife; the only drama that’s swirling around Milwaukee is manufactured by national media outlets and pundits that need to talk about something concerning the best squad in the NBA. To further illustrate how few problems this team has, the Bucks have a clear injury report as of this morning! Nothing lasts forever, to be sure, but right now it’s mostly smooth sailing for Milwaukee.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe had an uneven outing in the Bucks win against Boston the other day. He played well within his role, but got stuck with a few fouls that forced him out of his zone, earned him a technical foul, and resulted in playing only 20 minutes. Some may speculate that he struggled with the Kemba Walker matchup (as anyone would), and his point guard foe today is every bit as challenging.
The Nets have struggled since surprising the league last season, in no small part because they signed an injured KD and a huge stretch of missed games from Kyrie. They still take a lot of threes, clean up on the glass, and defend reasonably well, they’re just usually outmatched against upper-echelon teams. Spencer Dinwiddie has had a spectacular season thus far, but he (and Caris LeVert, another playmaker) are now adjusting to being moved down in the rotation in favor of Irving (after returning from a lengthy absence with a shoulder injury). In addition to missing Kevin Durant tonight (and presumably all year long), the Nets will also be without DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris.
Player to Watch: Kyrie Irving
Yeah, yeah, yeah, transcendent talent, incredible ball-handler and shot-maker, whatever. Kyrie is one of the few stars in the league who puts on a better show off the court rather than on it.
Kyrie Irving was asked after tonight’s loss to Philly about this game against a top East opponent showing how much work the Nets still have to do in order to compete at the highest level while waiting for Kevin Durant to return. Here’s Irving’s answer: pic.twitter.com/NAqA4OvQk2— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 16, 2020
He later clarified that he meant to improve the team with his candor. He might improve the team by taking better shots (0.462 from the field this season, his lowest FG% since 2015-16), but Milwaukee will be all too happy to let Kyrie cook in the midrange.
Game 44: Against Brooklyn, 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)