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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic Preview: Three in a Row?

The young guns from Orlando trot to town

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks play in the second game of their weekend back-to-back, taking on the Orlando Magic who are fresh off their own flight in from Brooklyn.

Where We’re At

The Bucks are finally using some home cooking to stack wins. After toppling the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday evening, they have another team chock full of young players to try and dismantle. The 96-89 win on Friday may not have been pretty, but it’s all about getting the continuity and flow back between Milwaukee’s big three. In addition, they’ve gotta find the lineup permutations without Brook Lopez that they think could carry over into the postseason. They’ll have another chance against subpar competition to try some stuff out.

Orlando went full on tank this season, finally shipping out Nikola Vucevic at last year’s trade deadline. In return, they’ve gathered a full crop of potential young pieces and are trotting them out to see which ones will stick and which will fall behind the pack. Between holdovers Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Cole Anthony, plus in infusion of rookies Jalen Suggs and Franza Wagner, there’s a whole lot of...something for Magic fans to try and get excited about. On top of that, they are still missing Jonathan Isaac, who hasn’t returned since tearing his ACL in the NBA bubble in August 2020. Still, while there may be some fun featurettes, they’re still in the bottom five in terms of offensive and defensive rating and on the first train to tankville. It’s all about flashes for this team, but, again, this Bucks team isn’t in a position to take anything for granted as it digs itself out of its injured record hole to start the year. They’re playing on a back to back too after just barely losing to Brooklyn, 113-115. They were up early in that one too but balanced scoring across the roster couldn’t overcome Harden going for 36.

Player to Watch

Cole Anthony came out of North Carolina last year and I sorta assumed he would be one of those ball-dominant young guards who might be able to score in bunches but probably wouldn’t put it all together to help lead a team. Well, he’s upped his per-36 numbers from points to rebounds (7.2 for a point guard is a lot!) and assists (six) while also improving as a 3-point shooter, hitting 37% of his attempts this year. In addition, he’s hitting 85% of his free throw attempts after being at just 75% in college and 34% from deep. Clearly, he’s found a better groove in Orlando and filled in more than capably with Markelle Fultz out for the season — an injury that might’ve been a blessing in disguise if Anthony’s improvements are legit.

UPDATE…you can also watch Jalen Suggs, I guess.


Game 17: Against Orlando, the Bucks will...

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