Team Records: Portland (32-15) at Milwaukee (24-22)
Game Info: 5:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: Marc Davis, Eric Dalen, Sean Wright
The Skinny: The Blazers look to shake off the last two games as they travel to Milwaukee to face a Bucks team that is severely shorthanded. The Bucks are down at least four key players but have managed to keep afloat as of late. Milwaukee is 3-1 in their last four games.
Last Time They Met: Lillard scored 29 points as the Blazers outlasted the Bucks 104-97. Portland has won 31 of the last 49 games vs. the Bucks going back to the 1988-89 season.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece, 2nd Season) – 11.4 PPG, 6 RPG, 2.3 APG
SF: Jared Dudley (Boston College, 8th season) – 7.6 PPG, 3 RPG, 1.6 APG
C: John Henson (North Carolina, 3rd Season) – 6.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, .9 APG
SG: Khris Middleton (Texas A&M, 3rd season) – 10.7 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.7 APG
PG: Brandon Knight (Kentucky, 4th Season) – 17.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.2 APG
Player to Watch: Brandon Knight (pictured at right) –Sometimes all a player needs to succeed is the right situation. Such is the case for Brandon Knight, who was underwhelming the say the least his first two years in Detroit. Since being traded to the Bucks, however, he has really taken off, especially this year, putting together a first half of the year that was arguably good enough to make the all-star team (and he still may as Wade’s replacement). Knight managed to turn himself from merely a high volume shooter into a high volume relatively good efficiency shooter this year, seeing his true shooting percentage go up a full 4%. He’s a decent enough outside shooter, although he’s not mainly active from deep. He turns the ball over too often and his defense is not very good yet, he is such an improvement over Jennings its not even funny. He is yet another one of the NBA’s great crop of talented young PGs.
Did You Know?: On January 20, Giannis become the youngest Bucks player to ever score 1000 career points in the NBA, breaking the record previously held by Jennings.
Song of the Day: ”Live to Win” by Paul Stanley. Okay, enough of this feeling bad for ourselves nonsense, live to win. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – C Robin Lopez (Hand), PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
Milwaukee: Out- PF Jabari Parker (ACL), PG Kendall Marshall (Knee), C Larry Sanders (Suspension), SF Damien Inglis (Ankle), Questionable-PF Ersan Ilyaosva (Groin), C Zaza Pachulia (Calf)
Re-Evaluating the Bucks: Kidd Ain’t So Bad
Jason Kidd’s first years as a NBA head coach was largely remembered for him intentionally spilling water on the court to try and get an extra timeout. Then he bullied his way into Milwaukee and didn’t win any friends. He has certainly done a remarkable job since arriving, however. This Bucks team was supposed to be quite bad this year. Instead they appear almost certainly headed for the playoffs even without Jabari Parker, who was probably the early favorite for rookie of the year. Like players, coaches need to be in the right situation to succeed and it appears the Bucks are for Jason Kidd.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. The Bucks aren’t as good as we are. Play like we can and we should win.
Milwaukee wins if: They make someone other than LMA/Dame beat them. The Bucks can’t hold out much hope for a win if LMA and Dame have good nights. If they can make someone else try and beat them, they could well have a shot.