Oklahoma City (11-17) kick off the weekend with a contest against the Milwaukee Bucks (16-13) in the Fiserv Forum.
We have a rematch from last weekend, the Bucks are hoping to snap a 5-game losing streak with a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. As it stands, OKC is nearly back to full strength after a tough stretch of injuries, only George Hill is listed on the injury report after thumb surgery. The Milwaukee Bucks will most likely be without lead guard Jrue Holiday due to Coronavirus health and safety protocol.
With the young Thunder’s lead guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back, this will be his second game playing since missing four games with a sprained left knee. After finishing the loss on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies with 22 points and 6 assists, we can expect him to try and build on that performance as he continues playing.
With both teams near full strength, expect an interesting matchup ahead. Giannis continues to do Giannis things; stuffing the stat sheet in all five losses, including the loss last week to OKC, yet the Bucks continuously have come up short recently. He recorded a 24-point, 10 assists, and 17 rebound triple-double last week but the dagger from Justin Jackson staved off the Milwaukee comeback, as Jackson had a season-high 22.
The Bucks were on their last game of a grueling 6-game road trip when they faced the Thunder, facing off against some of the tougher Western opponents in the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz which could be a possible reason for the loss. After the last matchup, Khris Middleton said “Tonight, they were the team that wanted it more”, and OKC did want it more, battling a flurry of injuries seems to have brought the Thunder together on this steep learning curve of a season.
One thing to watch for tonight will be how Darius Bazley fairs against strong wing defense. He had a very efficient night overall against the Bucks, shooting 8-of-13 from the field for 18 points total. How will Bazley be able to exploit a defense that saw him not too long ago and could force him into some tough shots?
The Bucks will be coming out the gate hungry for a win, so OKC may have a long night on the defensive end. If OKC goes for the three-guard lineup again of SGA, Lu Dort and Theo Maledon and the Dortress track Middleton all night, the remaining two of Theo and Shai will have to keep track of the Bucks two Lazer guards beyond the arc in Divencenzo (40% 3-pt) and Bryn Forbes(47% 3-pt). If the Thunder want hope of winning, they will have to limit the three as much as possible.
A win tonight will help right the ship for Milwaukee, snapping the losing streak will be the most important thing on Coach Budenholzer’s mind tonight. A win tonight will not do a huge amount for OKC’s current standings. With little between 11th place Pelicans and 14th place Thunder, the Thunder will go into this looking more towards development than the standings.
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