After clearing their minds for eight days free from the rigors of NBA competition, the Milwaukee Bucks are returning to the court (hopefully refreshed) and ready to do battle with a Brooklyn Nets team that remains devoid of most of its star players.
Where We’re At
Giannis Antetokounmpo again made hay in the All-Star game with a delightful all-around performance, although he did enjoy boosting his box score while hurting his teammate Khris Middleton through this devious block.
"I feel terrible. I did not know it was Khris." pic.twitter.com/mqAj9bSUqT— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 21, 2022
The Antetokounbros bowed out of the skills competition, and apparently weren’t fully aware of the rules? But shenanigans aside, it’s time for the Bucks to get back into business with 22 games remaining and the hardest schedule left in the league. It should provide plenty of tests for this team as they try to recapture the magic that helped them capture the magic of a championship last season. The good news for them: Brook Lopez is at least back on the court doing drills, even if he’s still a ways off.
The interesting subplot for this game is, of course, built around a re-tooled Brooklyn Nets roster. They dealt a surly James Harden for an equally confusing star in Ben Simmons, alongside Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and some picks. That meant they had to jettison DeAndre Bembry, a slasher wing who now resides on the Bucks. And when Goran Dragic spurned the Bucks (as Dave Chapelle once said) for Brooklyn, they once again waived a bench player in Jevon Carter who promptly made his way to Milwaukee. He seems excited for the matchup.
Without Kevin Durant, the Nets have fallen deep into the Eastern Conference standings, sitting at just 31-29 and in the eighth slot. Kyrie Irving has made his return to the team though, for away games, and will be their primary offensive engine for this one presumably. Goran Dragic will also make his Nets debut.
They’re still missing Kevin Durant, Joe Harris and Ben Simmons though. For the Bucks, it’s no Pat Connaughton or Brook Lopez, while George Hill is questionable with that lingering neck issue.
Player to Watch
I think the triumvirate of DeAndre Bembry, Jevon Carter and Goran Dragic make quite a trio of capable watching candidates for this one. I am entirely unsure whether the former two will even see any minutes, but if Bud has any sentimentality he’ll give them a chance to exact a minute or two of on-court revenge. When last we saw Dragic, the Bucks were sweeping his Miami Heat out of the playoffs in spectacular fashion. I, for one, am glad we get to keep him as a villain in our eyes.
Game 61: Against Brooklyn, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more point)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)