It’s Saturday, and the Milwaukee Bucks are still riding high off their dismantling of the Brooklyn Nets on Friday evening, 121-109. They now head to Charlotte for the first of a two-game series, hoping to keep the momentum rolling.
Where We’re At
It took less than 27 minutes for Giannis Antetokounmpo to amass 31 points, seven rebounds and nine assists against the Brooklyn Nets, and he looked in complete control the entire contest. The best part, it got Darvin Ham his first win as acting head coach while Mike Budenholzer remains in the protocols. Look at this joy and try not to smile.
Showering Coach Ham with a victory ice bath. pic.twitter.com/eURWl4Gh9v— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 8, 2022
Bobby Portis certainly deserved a shower too after his 25 points against the Nets, 20 of which came in a first half where the Bucks built up what proved to be an insurmountable lead. It was a delightful way to wash the taste of two straight losses from our palettes. Now, they need to carry that strong play to Charlotte, who gave the Bucks everything they could handle during a 127-125 win for Milwaukee back on December 1st. You may remember one play in particular from that one.
Look where he hits the glass with the layup. Insane pic.twitter.com/Zr7GU66du1— The Dude (@knakattack) December 2, 2021
As for the Hornets, well they’re stuck amid a ton of near .500 teams dotting the bottom of the Eastern Conference Playoff push. They’re 20-19 at the moment, and fittingly 5-5 in their last ten. They’re coming off a resounding 140-111 win, in part due to eight (8!!) three-pointers by Kelly Oubre in the final period alone. If only Oubre had given the Bucks some of that three-point luck for their contest against the Pistons.
You know the drill with Charlotte at this point. They’re beasts who feast in transition, with LaMelo Ball pushing the pace at every opportunity while Miles Bridges dunks everything in sight. They’re surrounded by complementary switchable wings, but as per usual, their defense is in the cellar. Milwaukee should be able to take advantage of this team’s smaller frontcourt.
As for injuries, the Bucks are obviously dealing with a spate of them, including no Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton or George Hill who are all in protocols. Donte and Brook are hurt as usual. No word on if anyone will sit out on the back-to-back, but given there were no huge minute loads, I’d expect all to play. The Hornets are quite healthy, with Vernon Carey Jr. as their only missing main piece.
Player to Watch
Kelly Oubre has had a fantastic season for the Hornets, averaging 16 points per game on 38% shooting from deep with nearly eight attempts per contest. He went off for 25 against Milwaukee, which seemed anomalous at the time, but was really a harbinger of things to come I guess. With lots of backups around, the Bucks need to keep a close eye on Oubre around the perimeter while LaMelo Ball is working the pick-and-roll as their primary action. We’ll see if the blond-haired bomber can hurt the Bucks again.
Game 42: Against Charlotte, the Bucks will...
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