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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Clippers Preview: Back-To-Back In LA

The win streak is at 9 and counting...

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If you stayed up late to watch the Milwaukee Bucks win a game in Los Angeles last night, today might feel a bit like Groundhog Day as the Bucks stick around in SoCal to take on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Where We’re At

The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, and what a whirlwind it was! The Bucks got into the action by acquiring Jae Crowder from Phoenix (via Brooklyn) for a bunch of draft picks and sending the trio of Serge Ibaka (who has since been waived), Jordan Nwora, and George Hill to Indiana. If you want a breakdown of that trade, we’ve got you covered, and most national media types are pretty optimistic on Milwaukee’s outlook. From The Ringer:

Winner: Milwaukee Bucks

Getting Jae Crowder for five second-round picks is solid for a team that’s been all the way in for the past two years. Crowder may not have the same type of impact as a small-ball 4 that P.J. Tucker did when they won a title, but his theoretical fit is ideal. When it’s time to downsize, few teams can match up with a unit that features Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Joe Ingles, Crowder, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks can also mix and match, going super big and experimenting with a Middleton, Giannis, Crowder, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis group that grabs every rebound and can’t be scored on. That should be fun to deal with. The addition of Crowder stabilizes the rotation, even if he isn’t a knockdown 3-point threat.

Elsewhere, Milwaukee should be letting out a humongous breath of air now that Durant is out of their bracket. The Nets had enough shooting to break their defense. Now that road block no longer exists.

Also from The Ringer:

Ever since he demanded a trade last fall, Crowder has seemed an obvious fit for the Bucks as the exact sort of player they’d want to fill Tucker’s role for the 2020-21 champions. More than any player listed thus far, Crowder is guaranteed to receive a heavy workload on a top team, and he offers the Bucks 3-and-D bona fides, positional versatility, and another wing to use in potential Giannis-at-center lineups.

Yet numerous questions remain. What kind of shape is Crowder in, after not playing any NBA ball since last spring? At age 32, is he still suited to defend the Jayson Tatums of the sport? Will he shoot like he did in Miami and his first season in Phoenix (39 percent combined 3-point mark, regular season and playoffs) or like he did in 2021-22 (34 percent between regular season and playoffs)?

This trade also has a fun wrinkle entirely disconnected from its effect on the title race, which is that it provides a kind of déjà vu for Hill. And the first time the Bucks traded Hill, they landed Jrue Holiday; the first time the Pacers traded forHill, they sent the Spurs a new draftee named Kawhi Leonard.

Also from The Ringer, where they put together a post-deadline power rankings...and placed Milwaukee at the very top of the list.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Khris Middleton has missed 39 games. Jrue Holiday has missed 11. And yet, the Bucks are just one game back from the Celtics for the NBA’s best record. That’s largely thanks to the continued dominance of Giannis Antetokounmpo: 32.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and Defensive Player of the Year–level defense. The Bucks are 12-2 when Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday all play, and now they’ll be supported by Jae Crowder, who offers 3-and-D help. Crowder has declined as a perimeter defender, but even if he can’t match past performances after sitting out this season, he’s still an upgrade over Grayson Allen in end-of-game situations. Milwaukee’s roster is taking shape to support the best player in the world in pursuit of his second championship.

Also, the Bucks played in a game last night, beating the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James or the various players they traded for and sent elsewhere. Joe Ingles was held out of that contest and his status is unknown for tonight, while the Bucks are already expecting to be without Bobby Portis (knee) and Jae Crowder (he just got here!)

Meanwhile, the other LA team made some significant moves of their own, as the Clippers brought in Eric Gordon from Houston, Bones Hyland from Denver, and Mason Plumlee from Charlotte. They sent out Reggie Jackson, John Wall, and Luke Kennard, meaning the Clips will be similarly short-handed as the Lakers were...and they’ll also be missing Kawhi Leonard tonight.

Player To Watch

Could this be the last game where Khris Middleton comes off the bench? In his nine games since his return, he’s been eased back into the rotation and played sparingly, starting at 15 minutes a game, then 20, and last night he nearly reached 25 minutes. This is the Bucks’ MO; they are exceptionally cautious when it comes to bringing guys back from injury, and that approach seems necessary for a team that’s humming along right now while trying to reintegrate a player on the far side of 30 years old. Considering how well he’s been playing lately, his return to the starting lineup feels imminent, which is one step closer to seeing the Bucks at full strength. A welcome sight this close to the playoffs!


Game 56: Against the Clippers, the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (57 votes)
  • 46%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (86 votes)
  • 19%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (37 votes)
  • 3%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (6 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now

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