The Milwaukee Bucks square off with the Charlotte Hornets tonight with hopes of securing their second victory in the group stage of the NBA In-Season Tournament, and third consecutive regular-season win. After a shaky start to the 2023–2024 campaign, a win against a 3-7 Hornets squad could offer some comfort in hopes of things leveling out for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and company.
Where We’re At
For all of the hand-wringing so far, the Bucks are currently in fifth place, and only two wins out of first place, in the Eastern Conference. Picking up a win against a current basement-dweller like Charlotte could be much-needed low-hanging fruit for Milwaukee, but if there is a trend to be found in their other games this week, the final score could be closer than many fans would hope. While wins over the Toronto Raptors (128-112) and Chicago Bulls (118-109) are good to pad the record, the margins of victory over the teams that are currently slotted in at no. 11 and no. 12 in the East may not inspire much hope when going against a team with a transcendent talent like LaMelo Ball.
For their part, the Hornets are sitting just below Toronto and Chicago at no. 13 in the conference. They last played on Tuesday night, when they fell 111-105 to the Miami Heat just two days after suffering a 129-107 drubbing at the hands of the New York Knicks. Ball, for his part, put up point-assist-rebound lines of 28-11-6 and 32-6-7 in those games, respectively.
Several Bucks appeared on the NBA’s official injury report this morning, including MarJon Beauchamp (questionable with a right ankle sprain) and Chris Livingston (out with a left ankle sprain). Jae Crowder remains out as he recovers from surgery to repair groin and abdominal strains. More concerning, however, is the status of Antetokounmpo. Giannis is at risk of missing his second consecutive game with a right calf strain. Lillard luckily seemed to return to form just in time as he assumed the role of sole star in Wednesday’s win over Toronto and may have to do so again this evening.
The Hornets, however, may be missing a handful of players, as well, chief amongst them Terry Rozier (out with a left groin strain). Cody Martin (out due to his left knee) and defense-first rotation guard Frank Ntilikina (out with left tibia fracture) are certain scratches while rookie Brandon Miller (left ankle sprain) and oft-injured veteran Gordon Hayward (right hamstring strain) are both listed as questionable.
Player To Watch
Bobby Portis can be a walking double-double on any given day. If Giannis misses tonight’s game, Portis is primed to provide just that as Charlotte’s rotation of bigs is young and relatively thin. Additionally, the Mayor of Milwaukee posted a +15 against the Raptors and a team-high +24 against the Bulls, for those invested in advanced stats. If Milwaukee makes a roster move at or before this season’s trade deadline, Portis might be dealt for any package the team may receive in return. If that winds up being the case, be sure to appreciate him while he’s here.
How To Watch
Bally Sports WI/NBA TV at 6:00 PM CST.
Game 12: against the Hornets, the Bucks will...
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