After Brooklyn rolled on Thursday evening, the Milwaukee Bucks own sole possession of the Eastern Conference’s second seed, two games behind Miami and a full game up on Philly. In order to maintain that position, they need to get past the Golden State Warriors on the road, at a time when their stock is low. As of now, the Bucks are one-point favorites in this matchup of two of the NBA’s premier franchises.
Where We’re At
Since the All-Star break, the Bucks are really hitting their stride. While most of their wins have been tight, including a somewhat close call on Wednesday night versus Atlanta for their sixth victory in a row, Milwaukee often comes out on top with big fourth quarters and huge individual performances. Look no further than Giannis for those: in this week’s back-to-back, he dropped a combined 82 points. It won’t be easy to repeat such feats against Golden State’s defense—one of the league’s best—but they’re still without defensive ace Draymond Green as he recovers from a back injury sustained in January. A few days after that occurred, the Bucks hammered the Dubs behind Giannis’ 30-point triple-double.
It hasn’t been so rosy for the Warriors lately, though they managed to dispatch MVP candidate Nikola Jokic in Denver on Thursday night. That marked the first time the Dubs won consecutive contests since early February, at the end of a nine-game winning streak. After that, Golden State dropped 9 of 13 and are no longer really contending for the West’s top seed, falling a half-game behind Memphis into the third seed. Steph Curry—who scored just 12 points in his visit to Milwaukee two months ago—regained his mojo over the All-Star break, but fellow All-Star Andrew Wiggins’ production has fallen off significantly and Klay Thompson is struggling with his shot amid a bout with a non-COVID illness.
In addition to the usual three absences for Milwaukee (Brook Lopez, George Hill, and Pat Connaughton, two-way guard Lindell Wigginton also remains out with a sprained right ankle. Green is moving closer to a return but according to the man himself, that will wait until Monday. Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II won’t appear either with their own injuries. Otto Porter Jr. will miss with a non-COVID illness and second-year center James Wiseman is on a G League assignment as he recovers from knee surgery last April.
Player To Watch
In the past two weeks, Jrue Holiday was the hero multiple times as Milwaukee sought to wrestle away and maintain leads in fourth quarters. However, his last two efforts were pretty quiet, perhaps as a result of having his hands full with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Trey Young. Holiday didn’t play when the team faced the Warriors last, but the Bucks caught Curry in the middle of a notable cold snap, and Klay Thompson was still on a minutes restriction in his third game back. Tonight he’ll likely guard both Splash Brothers when on the floor; can he deliver a big-time effort on both ends? If he does, the Bucks probably win.
Game 68: Against Golden State, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
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)
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.