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Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks: Getting back on track

It can’t get worse, right?

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Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

After a humbling loss at the hands of the Raptors, the Milwaukee Bucks will host the New York Knicks in their fifth game of the season and their inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament matchup.

Where We’re At

Through four games, the 2023–24 Bucks have been the definition of a mixed bag. After an explosive victory over the Sixers on opening night, the team lays an egg against the Hawks. A comfortable victory over the Heat seemed to steady the ship, and then the squad turned around and got boat-raced by the Raptors. It’s easy to point the finger at the defensive side of the ball—a unit that has yet to allow under 110 points in a game—but the offense has had its woes as well. Damian Lillard played out of his mind on opening night, but the results have been mixed in the three games since. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown signs of struggle, only putting up 16 points in 28 minutes against Toronto. The sluggish start has already created some panic amongst the Milwaukee faithful, but this roster clearly has the talent to flip the switch at any moment. Maybe that moment is Friday night.

The Knicks come to town after facing a similar level of turmoil to start the year, sporting a 2-3 record. Most recently, the team split back-to-back games against the Cavaliers, winning the first on Halloween night and dropping the second on November 1. Through five games, RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson have led the way on offense, putting up 21.0 points and 20.6 points per game, respectively. Unlike the Bucks, the Knicks’ defense has been a bright spot, as the squad ranks second in the league in defensive rating (102.4).

Injury Report

RJ Barrett was inactive for the Knicks on Wednesday with knee soreness, and he is listed as questionable for Friday. Milwaukee’s Andre Jackson Jr. is also listed as questionable with a left hip contusion.

Player To Watch

I’m excited to see what Malik Beasley can do on Friday. He led the team in scoring against Toronto, putting up 20 points including going 6-of-9 from deep. Granted, the game against the Raptors was a complete blowout and offensive disaster, so I wouldn’t expect him to necessarily command the offensive again if things are going well. At the same time, I have an affinity for guys who can go out there and just shoot the hell out of the three-ball (especially if that’s their only elite trait). He shot 46.2% from three in his first four games as a Buck, and I would encourage everyone who shares my love of deep-ball specialists to keep an eye on him tonight.

How To Watch

ESPN at 6:30 PM CDT.


Game 5: against the Knicks, the Bucks will...

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