Team Records: Milwaukee (13-12) at Portland (19-6)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -9.5
Refs: Ed Malloy, Derrick Collins, Kane Fitzgerald
The Skinny: The Blazers and Bucks face off Wednesday night with both teams having suffered key injuries in their last game. The Blazers lost Robin Lopez for 6-7 weeks with a broken hand while the Bucks lost rookie of the year frontrunner Jabari Parker to an ACL injury. The Bucks had been playing well as of late, winning two straight over Western conference teams and have been one of the NBA”s most pleasant surprises this year.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the Bucks. Portland has swept the Bucks eight times since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece, 2nd Season) – 12.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.9 APG
SF: Jared Dudley (Boston College, 8th season) – 5.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.5 APG
C: Larry Sanders (VCU, 5th Season) – 7.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, .7 APG
SG: OJ Mayo (USC, 7th season) – 10.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.9 APG
PG: Brandon Knight (Kentucky, 4th Season) – 17.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.6 APG
Player to Watch: Giannis Anteteokounmpo (pictured at right) –The so-called “Greek Freak” is certainly for real. A physical freak of nature, Giannis has a superior skillset and length and seemingly unlimited potential. He is extremely raw at this point, especially on defense, whether he often seems lost within his team’s scheme but there is no doubting his raw ability. Its not just his amazing dunks, or that he has improved substantially in almost every major category over his rookie year, its that he’s just simply fun to watch. Add to that a fun loving personality and you have not only one of the best young talents in the NBA today but also one of the most marketable. He might have been a risk when he was drafted but its safe to say that risk has paid off.
Did You Know?: The Bucks bench is the highest scoring reserve unit in the NBA this season, averaging 44.2 points per game.
Song of the Day: ”Kiss Off” by the Violent Femmes. One of the more popular bands to come out of Milwaukee playing one of their better known songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PG CJ McCollum (Finger), C Robin Lopez (Hand)
Milwaukee: Out- PF Jabari Parker (ACL), PF Ersan Ilyasova (Nasal fracture), PF John Henson (Foot), SF Damien Inglis (Ankle), Questionable-PF Johnny O’Bryant (Knee)
Had this preview been written Monday before Parker’s injury, it would have sounded entirely different. It would have been about how surprisingly good the Bucks have been this year, about how Jason Kidd might not be a horrible coach after all and about the emerging star that is Jabari Parker. Instead, Monday’s game did happen and Parker became the latest Milwaukee player to go down with an injury. The Bucks are a surprisingly deep team, with the league’s best scoring bench but there is only so many injuries that any team can sustain before they start falling off dramatically. The Bucks are a defense first team, ranking 10th in defensive efficiency, primarily because of the ability of players suck as Larry Sanders to defend the paint. The Bucks are a decent offensive bunch but not one of the league’s best, and without Parker’s contributions they will likely suffer greatly. The Bucks had been in line to be a surprise playoff team and they still may be because the east is terrible but with their injuries its hard to see them actually avoiding another Draft Lottery. Yet, considering how bad they were a year ago, being even close to the playoff race is a substantial improvement.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. The Bucks don’t match up favorably with Portland at this point. If the Blazers play the game the way they like to, they will win.
Milwaukee wins if: They hold Portland under 90. The Bucks are not a great offensive team, and so they will likely have to win this one by playing great defense. If they can hold Portland under 90 they certainly have a shot at the win.