The Milwaukee Bucks have now lost three games in a row heading into their Friday night match-up with the Charlotte Hornets at Fiserv Forum after the first home game of the Doc Rivers era did not go as planned in a blowout loss last night to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 129-105. Banged up and without two key starters, the team just needs something to go right, so who better than one of the East’s worst teams?
Where We’re At
Where to begin with the Bucks and the stretch they have been on? After winning five of six before firing Adrian Griffin, the Bucks are 3-6 in their last nine games, with Doc Rivers sitting at a 1-5 record. Injuries to Khris Middleton and Damian Lillard and the absence of Brook Lopez have made life more difficult for Rivers to implement his offensive and defensive scheme. Yet losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz are not welcome signs for a team trying to make a title push, and the loss to the Timberwolves has been the worst of Rivers’ five losses. The Timberwolves' top-rated defense made life difficult for the Bucks offense all night and had Giannis looking pedestrian. Antetokoumpo was not the leading scorer for the first time in nine games, limited to seventeen points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor. With the Cleveland Cavaliers’ eight-game winning streak, Milwaukee has dropped two games back to the third seed in the East and 6.5 games back of the Boston Celtics.
The Hornets are in another year of a deep rebuild and will likely miss the playoffs for the eighth straight year. After trying to surround LaMelo Ball with veteran talent to make a play-in push, the Hornets have gone in full fire sale mode, trading away Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat, Gordon Hayward to the Oklahoma City Thunder, P.J. Washington to the Dallas Mavericks, and cutting the former No. 11 overall pick of the 2021 draft in James Bouknight. Charlotte is seemingly giving the keys to young players like Miles Bridges and Brandon Miller. The Hornets are in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, and their last win came against the Timberwolves on Jan. 22, where Bridges, Ball, and Miller all played together. Bridges has 86 points in his two previous games, going for 41 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday and 45 against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. It will be a long road for the Hornets to reach sustained success, but sending out veteran players to acquire new assets is the best for Charlotte’s future.
As of publication, the Bucks have not submitted an injury report for tonight’s game. We’ll have the latest in the game thread tonight.
The Hornets will be without Ball and Mark Williams, dealing with a right ankle injury and recovering from lower back issues, respectively. Also, Kyle Lowry is still not with the team, with Lowry as a potential buyout candidate.
Player To Watch
After a much-maligned Summer League performance, Brandon Miller has been quietly finding his groove in Charlotte. The former no. 2 overall selection has been the Hornets’ leading scorer over his last six games, averaging 27.7 points on 49.2% shooting from the field. Miller has also been on fire from beyond the arc, nailing 41.8% of his shots on 9.2 attempts per contest. Look for Miller to have the rock in his hands even more with Washington and Hayward gone, with Miller having the team’s highest usage rate in the last six games (29.2%).
How To Watch
Bally Sports WI at 7:00 PM CST.
Game 53: against the Hornets, the Bucks will...
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