Fresh off an overtime victory that had to be won after Nick Nurse try-hard-ed as hard as anyone can try in early January, the Milwaukee Bucks return home to face the hapless Charlotte Hornets.
Where We’re At
There are two options for the Bucks coming out of their 104-101 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday: Burn the tape or burn the tape. Outside of the late (late) chaos, the Bucks were able to hop on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s shoulders on his way to a 30 point, 21 rebound, 10 assist night. Brook Lopez chipped in 19 rebounds of his own, and Bobby Portis continued his double-double-based Sixth Man of the Year campaign with 14 points and 12 rebounds. It proved enough with the Raptors shooting a Bucks-ian 9-46 from three. That’s two wins in a row with an upcoming road trip that sees MilwaukeeT visit a number of Eastern Conference playoff teams and the Heat. But first, the Hornets.
Once a feasible pick at the end of last year to be one of the “got next” teams heading into this season, the Charlotte Hornets just kinda... dissolved. Miles Bridges was arrested for domestic violence mere hours before free agency opened up, pled no contest to the felony charge, and then the Hornets reportedly considered signing him anyway (they’ve since denied that negotiations are ongoing). Coach James Borrego was canned after four seasons, replaced by Steve Clifford who was already fired by the Hornets at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season. He had this quote about his team about three weeks ago:
“Until we care about something besides how many points we score, we’re not going to win much,” Clifford said in an opening statement before leaving without taking questions from reporters. “We are playing no defense — not one guy. There’s not a bright spot. We don’t run back on defense, we don’t guard the ball, our pick-and-roll stuff. … All we care about is scoring. That’s it.”
LaMelo Ball’s scoring is up while his efficiency is mildly down (23.7 points on .414/.365/.867), and his AST%/TO% are the best in his career, but he’s also only played in 15 games due to an ankle injury. Gordon Hayward has been injured as well while his wife takes to Instagram to slam the team, PJ Washington is about the same as ever, Terry Rozier remains a gunner, Kelly Oubre Jr. just had hand surgery, etc. They’re the worst three-point shooting team in the league, second-worst from the floor overall, and fifth-worst from the FT line. There is one thing they are decent at, and it is generating steals, blocks, and turnovers *stares at Milwaukee’s passing the past few weeks*. Charlotte has lost three straight with the latest coming on Wednesday against Memphis.
Khris Middleton is still out with knee soreness, and Giannis, Jrue Holiday MarJon Beauchamp, and George Hill are all probable.
For Charlotte, Kelly Oubre Jr. (hand), James Bouknight, and Kai Jones are out (latter two on assignment in the G-League), and Gordon Hayward is doubtful with hamstring soreness.
Player to Watch
The guidelines say I shouldn’t pick one of the Big Three, but Jrue Holiday. If he plays, I look forward to seeing if he gets the LaMelo Ball assignment, and more importantly whether Holiday can avoid gently handing the ball to Charlotte fewer than 8 times in his continuing return to game shape.
Game 39: Against the Hornets, 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)
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