The Milwaukee Bucks are back at Fiserv Forum for some home cooking (are brats and curds on Giannis’ post-game menu?) to face the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich’s new young core, looking to win their sixth-straight game.
Where We’re At
Despite an entire half of ugly shooting, the Bucks used OT to cap off an impressive comeback against the East-leading Sixers on Wednesday and are now 1.5 games back of the 1-seed, victors in 10 of their last 11 contests. They’ve also retooled the roster a bit along the way, welcoming a Texas ex-pat to practice yesterday. It hasn’t all been pretty after the All-Star break, but when they’ve needed stops and big buckets to get back in games they’ve gotten them, and the defense looked very good against Philly. Oh, and there’s this Greek fella who has been playing some decent ball lately too.
Since returning to action from four COVID-postponements, the Spurs have treaded water around the 5 games over the .500 mark. They’re capping off a five-game Eastern Conference road trip tonight as winners of three straight, landing in Milwaukee for the second game of a back-to-back after dispatching the Cavs last night and welcoming DeMar DeRozan back to the lineup (condolences on the death of your father, DeMar). While DeRozan still leads this squad, his longtime co-pilot LaMarcus Aldridge remains away from the team while the front office seeks to trade him, and they are riding a solid youth movement this year. DeJounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV, and Jakob Pöltl are all under 25 and often make up the other 4/5ths of a starting lineup that looks intriguing to build on, with steady vets Rudy Gay and Patty Mills helping off the bench. The always well-coached Spurs appear poised to return to the postseason, even if it comes as a play-in.
San Antonio is without Keita Bates-Diop with a hamstring strain in addition to the aforementioned Aldridge. Rodions Kurucs, the other piece in the P.J. Tucker deal, is listed as questionable with an abdominal injury for Milwaukee.
Player To Watch
P.J. Tucker hasn’t played since March 3rd, so if he does get serious minutes I’m keeping my expectations low. But I’m very curious to see how ex-Spur Bryn Forbes matches up against his former team. Coming off his forgettable 0/10 outing in Philly, not only will he be looking to bounce back, but also to make his detractors among the Spurs fan base rue celebrating his exit. Always unshy, the gunner should get plenty of opportunities to do so: San Antonio gives up 18.6 wide-open (nearest defender > 6 feet away) triples per game, good for fifth-most in the league (Milwaukee is third-highest at 19.8, by the way) according to stats.nba.com.
Game 41: Against San Antonio, 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)