When last the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Traiblazers met, the latter were just days out from shipping off Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the LA Clippers, and CJ McCollum was trying to body his way to rack. Fast forward about ten days, and we’ve got a radically different matchup this time around.
Where We’re At
Milwaukee may not look all that different from their last faceoff with Portland, but they’ve had enough roster fluctuation in the intervening days that it’s well worth touching on it. Of most importance is the injury to Pat Connaughton, who broke a finger in the loss against the Phoenix Suns and will likely be out for some time, although is projected to return before the end of the regular season. It’s tough timing for a team that just shipped off most of its wing “depth” in Donte DiVincenzo, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye during the deadline deal that returned Serge Ibaka. Speaking of Serge, it seems likely he’ll make his Bucks debut barring some news from Bud pregame. He’s not on the injury report and trade has already been made official, so hopefully the big gets his feet wet against a team that’s sorely lacking in the size department. The Bucks have three games against middling to above average competition before the break (James Harden won’t be playing pre-ASB for Philly) so there’s a chance to run up the wins after a fairly successful 3-1 West Coast trip.
The unfortunate news for Bucks fans is they likely won’t have their big three available, with Giannis Antetokounmpo listed as doubtful for this one with left ankle soreness.
Portland on the other hand has played their hand, and they cashed in for a one-way ticket to tanksville. After the Bucks played them, they sent out CJ McCollum, Larry Nance and Tony Snell to the Pelicans for a gaggle of picks plus Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas SAtoransky and DiDi Louzada. NAW then got shipped to Utah for developmental prospect Elijah Hughes. Got all that? Me neither.
Long story short, I have little to no clue what the Blazers are doing here with Damian Lillard surrounded by I guess a few picks and cap space? It’ll all hinge on if they can actually do something meaningful this offseason to acquire another star, or what kind of lottery luck they get, but I’m pretty dubious. Still, the Blazers have decided to remain plucky with two straight wins over the Lakers and then the Knicks. Milwaukee will have to be locked in on the front end of a B2B.
The Bucks list Pat Connaughton, George Hill and Brook Lopez as all out with various injuries. Giannis is also doubtful, as mentioned above.
Portland, prepare yourselves, as here’s the full list of who is out with injuries: Eric Bledsoe, Joe Ingles, Keon Johnson, Damian Lillard, Nassir Little, Didi Louzada and Dennis Smith Jr. Yikes.
Player to Watch
Who else but Serge can be the player to watch? I’m really curious to see how he gets worked into the rotation for Bud, who has routinely been trotting out Greg Monroe for 10+ minutes a night. I’d expect Ibaka to immediately slide into those minutes, with a slow ramp-up though given he’s averaged just 15.4 minutes per game. In the potential absence of Giannis, maybe he gets closer to 20. How’s he gonna look defensively? How’s he gonna function as a pick-and-pop big? Will he roll? It’s all on the table and let’s hope we get a glimpse of it against the Blazers.
Game 58: Against Portland, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
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