Here we are, with only 21 games left on the schedule, and the 52-9 Milwaukee Bucks (yes, still only single digits in the loss column!) have a rematch pending with one of their recent foes, the Indiana Pacers.
It seems like only yesterday that the Bucks got caught overlooking the scrappy-yet-overall-nonthreatening Pacers leading into the All Star break. But in between that game and today, Milwaukee enjoyed a tidy six-game win streak and a doozy of a SEGABABA loss against the Miami Heat. They’re looking at quite the gauntlet over the next five games, and could use a victory over an Eastern Conference foe to generate some momentum for the trials to come. Fortunately their defense appears to be up to the task, even if the offense has suffered a little bit.
Goran Dragic (MIA) has been assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league review for his contact against George Hill (MIL) at 4:44 of 4th quarter on 3/2/20. pic.twitter.com/BRXToVh5Zu— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) March 3, 2020
Speaking of suffering, George Hill is probable on the injury report for the aforementioned Flagrant 1 foul (that wasn’t called in the moment...), and Kyle Korver’s status is unknown at this point; Milwaukee should have everyone else available.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The presumptive MVP and newly-dubbed league “apex predator” looked out of sorts against Bam Adebayo and the Heat defense on Monday, But Giannis is as notorious for rebounding from bad performances as the Bucks are for bouncing back after losses. In South Beach, Antetokounmpo was all too happy to settle for jump shots (including a pair of early PU3ITs that missed...badly...) and never got comfortable, leading to the Bucks’ demise. Can he find his groove and get back on track tonight?
Don’t look now, but the Pacers are settling themselves back down. After a nasty 2-8 stretch preceding the All Star Game, Indiana is 5-1 against a schedule consisting largely of third-tier teams. They’ve pulled even with the reeling Philadelphia 76ers for the fifth seed, and are only 2.0 games behind Miami for fourth. Old friend Malcolm Brogdon is continuing his disappointing campaign since being traded from the Bucks, and recently has come under scrutiny for his sticky fingers:
Don’t get it twisted. The Pacers have obviously benefited from Brogdon’s prudence late in games when he’s channeled it into taking what the defense gives him, and they’re definitely made better by his ability to penetrate and kick, but he needs to think about trimming a portion of the fat from some of his porkier possessions over the last 22 games.
As in, maybe don’t reject a screen and then take the long road around a pick the screener already tried to set before taking a circuitous path back out to the perimeter against a big on a switch and motioning for a clear out.
Despite the rough going lately, I have a feeling Malcolm is still sleeping soundly. Teammates Jeremy Lamb (out for the season) and Victor Oladipo (who missed Indy’s last game and is questionable for tonight) might not be.
Victor Oladipo, who sat out last night in San Antonio with right knee soreness, is questionable for Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) March 3, 2020
Player to Watch: Myles Turner
Turner did what few thought he could do this season: co-exist with All Star teammate Domantas Sabonis. The two centers have staggered themselves well in coach Nate McMillan’s rotation, and Turner projects as the type of big who could (emphasis on could) give the Bucks trouble. He’s an excellent rim protector (2.1 blocks per game), has decent mobility on both sides of the court, and has embraced his role as a pick-and-pop big (increasing his 3PAr from 0.251 last year to 0.450 this year). He is by no means a shutdown defender or a Giannis-stopper, but if he can hit some threes against the zone drop and force the Bucks to make difficult decisions re: the Lopez twins, this game could be quite the contest.
Game 62: Against Indiana, 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)