Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks Preview
While this is the time of year that half of the NBA doesn’t have much to play for and the other half has pretty much locked up a playoff spot, there are still some must-see matchups and one of those comes tonight as the Milwaukee Bucks host the Houston Rockets in an interconference matchup between two of the league’s best teams.
Milwaukee and Houston are both on two-game winning streaks. Milwaukee seems to be a lock to keep their stranglehold on the top seed in the Eastern Conference as they lead the Toronto Raptors by four games with just eight games to go. The Bucks are a league-best 55-19 and they are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Houston sits in third place in the West with a 47-27 record, and they currently have more of a chance to move down than move up. They are three games behind the Denver Nuggets, but only a half-game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
This will be the final regular-season meeting between the Bucks and Rockets after the Bucks took the first win in Houston, 116-109, on January 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 27 points and 21 rebounds, while James Harden finished with 42 points for the Rockets.
Time: 8:00pm ET
Arena: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
After a surprising 125-126 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last Wednesday, the Houston Rockets followed with two strong games, first by beating the San Antonio Spurs 111-105 behind 61 points from James Harden and then blowing out the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday 113-90.
The scoring was a bit more balanced over the Pelicans with not as much pressure on Harden to carry them to a win.
“We handled business,” Harden said. “We came out here and we were professionals from the beginning of the game.”
Harden led the Rockets with 28 points. Eric Gordon added 18 points and Danuel House, who was big for the Rockets during Chris Paul’s absence, came off the bench for 14 points and six rebounds. PJ Tucker, Chris Paul, and Keneth Faried also scored in double figures. While Capela was two points shy of that mark, he was a monster on the boards with 17 rebounds to go with his eight points.
The Rockets seem to be in a good spot this close to the postseason, but tonight’s game will surely be a litmus test as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says he hopes to see the Bucks in June.
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
After being out due to injury, Giannis has been back for the Bucks’ last two wins, and while most people would advise the All-Star forward to rest this late in the season, Giannis says he’s focused on playing through.
“A lot of other people are telling me to rest and I’m going to keep having my mindset — play through the pain, push forward and do whatever it takes for my team to win,” he said. “And when it’s something really, really bad, I know they’re going to do a great job pulling me out from the team and telling me to rest.”
The Bucks have not only been beating teams in this two-game winning streak, they’ve been beating them badly. On Friday night, they dominated the Miami Heat in the final three quarters in a 116-87 shellacking. That’s the same Miami Heat team they are currently matched up with if playoff seeding stays the same.
Then on Sunday, they avenged their loss just days before to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 127-105 win. With Giannis playing, the Cavs were simply outmatched. The Bucks forward had 26 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Every member of the starting group scored in double figures, with Khris Middleton adding 17, Brook Lopez scoring 14 and Eric Bledsoe and Tony Snell finishing with 12 points apiece.
Sterling Brown contributed 12 points off the bench, but perhaps most important is that George Hill finished with 17 points in just 21 minutes against his former team. With Tony Snell injuring his ankle and Malcolm Brogdon out, the Bucks could use Hill now and into the playoffs.
Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks Betting Odds
The Bucks are favored by 3.5 points to win tonight’s game at home. The Bucks are a league-best 30-6 at home and they are 48-16 as the favorite. Houston is 20-17 on the road and 10-7 as the underdog.
The over/under is 224 points and the Bucks are -170 on the moneyline.
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