Team Records: Portland (9-2) at Milwaukee (2-7)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -5
Refs: Rodney Mott, Lauren Holtkamp, Sean Wright
The Skinny: Following their seventh straight win against Brooklyn Monday, the Blazers look to make it a perfect 4-0 road trip and eight wins in a row overall as they visit the struggling Bucks. Milwaukee has lost five in a row, only one of which (a three point loss to Orlando) was even close. Not only that, but the Bucks are injured ravaged to boot, maybe not a bad thing as they were always intending to tank this year anyways.
Last Season: The Bucks swept the Blazers 2-0 last season for the second straight year for the first time since the mid-80s.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Ekpe Udoh (Baylor, 4th Season) – 4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, .8 APG
SF: Khris Middleton (Texas A&M, 2nd season) – 9.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 APG
C: Zaza Pachulia (Republic of Georgia, 11th Season) – 8.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.4 APG
SG: OJ Mayo (USC, 6th season) – 18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.8 APG
PG: Nate Wolters (South Dakota St., Rookie) – 8.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.1 APG
Player to Watch: Giannis Anteteokounmpo (pictured at right) – Every year there is a player or two who comes out of seemingly nowhere to shoot up NBA draft board. Last year one of those players was Giannis Anteteokounmpo, who had been playing in the Greek second division. Anteteokounmpo is a very raw physical player with a unique skillset, able to go coast to coast and has an exceptional ability to create off the dribble, although he struggles getting open off the ball. On defense, Anteteokounmpo has the raw physical tools to be a good defender but needs a fair bit of refinement. He might not be there for a few years but all indications are Anteteokounmpo will be, at worst, a solid NBA player in a few years.
Did You Know?: The Bucks are actually slightly better from three (41.7%) than from two (41.4%) so far this year.
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 (Foot), Questionable- C Meyers Leonard (Illness)
Milwaukee: Out- SF Carlos Delfino (Foot), C Larry Sanders (Thumb), Doubtful-PG Brandon Knight (Hamstring), Probable-PF Ersan Ilyasova (Ankle), SF Caron Butler (Shoulder)
You remember the scene from a famous Looney Tunes cartoon where Elmer Fudd thinks he runs out of bullets and then it turns out he actually has one bullet left (Linked here: tinyurl.com/kfzp38b ) ? That’s this year’s Milwaukee Bucks, already struggling to do much with what little talent they have but with injuries robbing them of the bullets in that proverbial gun one needs to be able to win games in the NBA. The Bucks are among the NBA’s worst on offense, shooting acceptably from 3 but near the bottom of the league overall. Their best hope is to make a ton of threes and outscore you since their defense is simply bad, unable to stop you from scoring from pretty much anywhere really, especially with shotblocker extraordinaire Larry Sanders out. If they get hot, they can be trouble but if not, they will go quietly into the cold Wisconsin night.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. This is the worst team Portland has faced on this road trip and if they are ready to go and don’t lose focus, they should walk away with an easy eighth win in a row.
Milwaukee wins if: They make lots of 3s. The Bucks only hope most nights are to make lots and lots of 3s and they will have to do so Wednesday if they want to stop their losing streak at five.