Where We’re At
Milwaukee took care of a severely undermanned Denver Nuggets squad on Friday evening, 120-109. Without Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. or Jamal Murray, there isn’t all that much glory for the Bucks to soak up, but winning in Denver is never an easy task. Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 24, and tacked on 13 boards plus seven assists for good measure, all on merely 13 shot attempts. It’s true, the Nuggets had no answer, like most of the league. With a juicy matchup against Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis tonight, I expect much of the same. Pat Connaughton continued his sterling bench season with 20 as well on 4-5 from deep. Hopefully that 48.5% from deep carries over against the Pacers.
Milwaukee has already taken down their divisional foe once this year, a 119-109 win where Giannis and Khris Middleton combined for 57 total. For Rick Carlisle’s new team, they’ve rebounded nicely from a rocky start. At 5-5 in their last 10, it’s evened out a bit but they’re three games under .500 now. Still, in a revitalized Eastern Conference, that merely gets you the 12 seed. My how things have changed. For his part, Carlisle’s team has remarkably similar offensive and defensive ratings to the Bucks current levels. They’re both mid-tier, and I’d assume the Pacers will improve now that they’ve gotten healthier too. Their most recent victory was a 114-97 shellacking of the Toronto Raptors, with DOMO leading the way at 23 points and 18 boards.
It’s all long-time injured folks out for this one, with TJ Warren out for the Pacers while the Bucks are missing Donte DiVincenzo, Brook Lopez and Semi Ojeleye.
Player to Watch
I really enjoyed the slick shooting and moves of rookie Chris Duarte in the last matchup between these two teams. Coming in, his elder statehood had draftniks guessing he’d be one of the more “NBA-ready” rookies and he’s looked the part. He rarely gets to the line, but his 49.6% eFG isn’t half bad and he showed some decent shot creation in scoring 18 vs. Milwaukee on October 25. He’s definitely ceded some of his shots to Caris LaVert since he returned from his early season injury, but I’m intrigued to see how he matches up against the Bucks bench crew.
Game 21: Against Indiana, the Bucks will...
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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)