Following a pair of prime time games against the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans that brough back-to-back National broadcasts, it feels almost quaint to return to a good old fashioned nondescript, late afternoon game down against the Orlando Magic.
Milwaukee is roaring after their takedown of the 76ers, with Giannis Antetokounmpo laying the smack down on Joel Embiid to the tune of 36 points, 20 boards and six assists. The 112-101 victory didn’t come easily, but it did come despite Philly notching 19 triples to the Bucks’ 12. It won’t entirely eliminate the narrative that they are built to be “Giannis Stoppers,” but it should mean we won’t have to hear about it nearly as often from national media types. Orlando presents a less, intimidating challenge, particularly given the Bucks have already beaten them three times this year. The latest was a 111-100 win on December 28 when Giannis and Eric Bledsoe sat out with injuries. Khris Middleton picked up the slack with 33 points.
It should be all hands on deck this time around, with the exception of George Hill who remains sidelined with that left hamstring strain.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
What he’s doing right now is like...Magic. He’s had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in his last five games and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. He was relentless against Philadelphia to will Milwaukee to victory, and I can only imagine what he will do against Nikola Vucevic and the like in this one.
They’re scuffling. Despite holding onto the 8th seed, Steve Clifford’s crew is just 22-30 and are 2-8 in their last 10. Not exactly a team in the rise. The hilarious part is that they still have a 3 game lead for the 8th seed with that record, whoo boy is the bottom of the East putrid. Their latest fall came at the Knicks’ hands in a 105-103 defeat. Vucevic had 25 in that one, but it wasn’t enough to get over the lowly Knicks on the night of Thursday’s trade deadline. The Magic stayed relatively pat outside of dealing cold hard cash to Philly for James Ennis. I don’t know why, but he just seems like a player that should be in Orlando. Although their offense remains in the bottom-10 of the league, they’ve continued their defensive renaissance of the last two years, ranking in the top ten in terms of defensive rating. Still, without their bellwether in Jonathan Isaac, they don’t have anyone capable of single-handedly slowing down Giannis.
They will be without Al-Farouq Aminu, the aforementioned Isaac and D.J. Augustin in this one.
Player to Watch: Aaron Gordon
Beyond the fact he still seems like a guy who will one day break out, but remains muddled in the purgatory of Orlando, Gordon is most importantly Pat Connaughton’s competition in the NBA dunk contest next week. His exploits are well documented on that stage, but clearly we should hope for a couple in-game slams from Gordon and Pat just to get us in the mood.
Game 52: Against Orlando, 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)