The Milwaukee Bucks trek up the northeast corridor continues after their sojourn in Philadelphia, as they head to take on the New York Knicks. Even if the process was rough as all get-out, at the very least they have a W in their pockets against a depleted Sixers squad to try and build upon in Madison Square Garden.
Where We’re At
The Milwaukee Bucks look like a far cry from their championship selves right now, but even defending champions just need to gut out a win every now and then. After failing to pull games out of late, they were neck and neck with a severely shorthanded 76ers team on Tuesday night, but Giannis Antetokounmpo found a way to get them out ahead, 118-109. It was yet another inefficient evening from Giannis, just 12-26 from the floor for 32 points, but his 16 boards, timely blocks and this clutch assist pushed them over the top.
Grayson Allen continued his hot play with 25 points on merely 13 shots, which helped make up for a quiet eight points from Jrue Holiday. Perhaps the most encouraging signs were Bobby Portis dropping in 19 and 10, but especially Semi Ojeleye hitting three triples en route to 11 points and eight rebounds. Most importantly, he was battling on the offensive glass and looked much more comfortable. Sometimes, just seeing a few shots goes in can do that, but the Bucks need contributions from their bit players if they’re gonna take down a Knicks team that just bested them less than a week ago.
The New York Knicks are still riding relatively high in the early portions of this season, as they also dispatched the depleted Philadelphia 76ers this week, 103-96 on Monday. Not much has changed from the last time these two teams tussled, besides the fact I’m sure Bud and company are plenty motivated for their players to avoid the type of semi-embarrassing performance that was their slow march towards blowout status. Julius Randle and Derrick Rose took blowtorches to Milwaukee’s defense that evening in their victory, while the Bucks offense went anemic after erupting for a 20-point lead in the first period. First and foremost, Milwaukee can’t allow the Knicks to post another 40% offensive rebounding percentage, an absurd number for the Budenholzer era. Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle bullied them on the boards, so that’s the first figure I’ll be watching out for to see if the Bucks can reverse their fortunes in this matchup.
On the injury front, both Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson are questionable for the Knicks — a potentially lucky break for the Bucks. Milwaukee is without the usual crew, Donte, Brook, Khris, but as of publishing this I’m not sure if any other players will be held out for rest due to the back-to-back.
Player to Watch
Derrick Rose, unquestionably, after he went for 23 points, eight boards and four assists against the Bucks. They couldn’t stop him from penetrating or nailing jumpers late, a problem that will hopefully be lessened as Jrue Holiday continues to ramp up his minutes. On the opposite end of that equation, the Bucks would do well to try and target Rose in the pick and roll defensively.
Game 12: Against New York, Milwaukee will...
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Win big (10 or more points)
Win close (9 or fewer points)
Lose close (9 or fewer points)
Lose big (10 or more points)