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Milwaukee Bucks vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview: Grab Your Sneakers

Milwaukee continues to trot out a shorthanded roster

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks, like many teams across the NBA right now, find themselves in a precarious spot as they prep to take on the New Orleans Pelicans. A game that was once slated for the late prime time slot on ESPN has been moved up, and that seems like a prudent decision given the state of these rosters. We’ll get into that below.

Where We’re At

The debut of Donte DiVincenzo was sadly delayed on Wednesday due to entering the health and safety protocols, but even down seven guys, the Indiana Pacers were no match for the Bucks. Behind a stellar 26 points and 14 assists from Jrue Holiday, who commanded oodles of attention from the Pacers defense, Bobby Portis (20 pts, 9 reb) and Pat Connaughton (20 pts) poured in baskets too. A 25-5 run in the fourth left the Pacers scrambling, and Milwaukee notched a solid divisional win on a night when they had every excuse to lose. As for who will be available in this game, here’s the current state of things after Bobby Portis entered health and safety protocols Thursday.

Out due to health and safety protocols are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo, Wesley Matthews and Bobby Portis. Basketball-related injury absences include Brook Lopez and Semi Ojeley as usual, while Thanasis Antetokounmpo is doubtful with a right soleus strain. The good news is that Khris Middleton is listed as probable after his hyperextension against Boston.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans have had the season from Hell. That’s primarily due to the ongoing saga of Zion Williamson, who appears to be not coming back anytime soon.

I really feel bad for the guy. Yes, he’s getting paid millions of dollars to play basketball, and that probably should be incentive enough to make sure he stays in shape, but it’s clearly a real issue for him that’s getting dragged out publicly over, and over, and over. Hopefully he gets healthy soon because he’s a treat to watch. What’s left with New Orleans this year? Well, Brandon Ingram is the focal point, averaging 23.4/game on 49.5% eFG percentage. They also swapped Steven Adams for Jonas Valanciunas, who is moshing for 18.7 points per game. Their most recent outing was a neck-and-neck affair with Oklahoma City, that also happened to have perhaps the most thrilling finish of the season thus far.

Awesome. Thankfully the Pelicans aren’t quite as injured as Milwaukee, where their main absence is Kira Lewis Jr., who is out after tearing his ACL.

Player to Watch

I’m keeping a close eye on Jonas Valanciunas, who is averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds, including 3.6 offensive boards per game. He’s hitting 46.5% on limited 3-point volume, but is more than capable of making loads and loads of hay inside. Against a Milwaukee team that will be relying primarily on DeMarcus Cousins and Sandro Mamukelashvili for its interior defense? Yikes.


Game 31: Against New Orleans, the Bucks will...

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