I hope you’re ready for another matinee playoff matchup! And if you’re not...I can’t blame you, this schedule is a drag. In any case, the Milwaukee Bucks continue their first round series against the Orlando Magic, and seek to move one step closer to moving on to the next challenger.
These are the Milwaukee Bucks we know and love. Leading for the vast majority of the game and continually pounding the Orlando at the rim and outside the arc, the activity level on defense has been turned up several notches, making Bucks fans feel far more comfortable with how they stack up against their Eastern Conference foes. The injury report is clear, and the Bucks figure to continue putting the pressure on their overmatched and understaffed opponents in yet-another afternoon game.
Player to Watch: Khris Middleton
Middleton was bad in Game 1 and worse in Game 2, and started swinging things back around in Game 3. His overall line was modest (17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists), but he was a game-high +30 and was getting closer to reclaiming his groove. With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez continuing to maintain their levels of production, and Eric Bledsoe rounding back into form, getting Khris all the way back online bodes well for the Bucks for the rest of this series...and the remaining series ahead of them.
There’s only so much head coach Steve Clifford can do here. There’s also only so much that All Star center Nikola Vucevic can do here. The Magic are in a 2-1 hole and while they have the closest approximation of home-court advantage (read: they don’t), it feels like they’re not going to steal any more games from the favored Bucks. In particular, highly-paid wing Evan Fournier has struggled mightily in this series; from Orlando Pinstriped Post:
When Fournier has had the ball this series, more often than not the end result has been a bad decision or badly missed shot, many of the off-balance runner variety. And on the rare occasion his shots have fallen, more often than not the outcome of the game had long been decided.
Part of that is attributed to the Bucks and their league-best defense. Some of it could be the result of a lingering illness that caused Fournier to miss the final seeding games. But no excuse makes up for the fact that when the Magic have needed Fournier most, in this postseason and last, he has given them nothing.
There doesn’t seem to be much help on the way, either. Michael Carter-Williams (foot) is already ruled out again today, and Aaron Gordon (hamstring) is still questionable.
Player to Watch: Markelle Fultz
The former first overall pick has enjoyed a somewhat-muted resurgence as a member of the Magic, and while his three-pointer isn’t a major threat he continues to flash the talents that pushed him atop the draft boards a few years ago. He’s a particularly adept midrange shooter when he gets to his spots, and his athleticism and ball control makes him a potent driver and finisher. He struggled mightily in Game 3 when pressured by Milwaukee’s guard corps, so watching to see how he bounces back is a story worth following.
Game 4: 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)