Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets Preview
Friday night’s game between the Bucks and Hornets features two teams on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee is currently the number 1 overall seed with an astonishing record of 39-6 while the Hornets are 24 games back from the Bucks in 11th place, with a record of 15-30. Milwaukee has been rolling all season and will carry a 7-game winning streak into Friday’s game. The Hornets, on the other hand, are going through one of their roughest patches of the season and will try and snap a 7-game losing streak. The Hornets hold a 7-14 record at AccorHotels Arena and will most likely have to play out of their norms to beat an elite Milwaukee squad led by Giannis Antetokounmpo who is putting together another MVP type season. As you can see by the injury report below, both teams will be playing at basically full strength.
Time: 2 PM CST
Arena: AccorHotels Arena, Charlotte, NC.
Channel: NBATV, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Carolinas
Bucks: Robin Lopez (Questionable)
Hornets: No Injuries
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
The Bucks currently hold the best record in the NBA due to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the supporting cast that the Bucks front office has built around him. Milwaukee has been the most dominant team in the NBA and this in large part is due to their efficiency on the interior on both sides of the ball. The Bucks are currently 1st in the league in points, 1st in total rebounds, 2nd in field goal percentage, and 1st in 2-point field goal percentage. On the other side of the ball, opponents have shot a league-low 41% from the field against the Bucks as well as the lowest 2-point field goal percentage (44%). This shows how Milwaukee’s physical and attacking mentality has led them to the NBA’s best record.
Milwaukee’s current 7-game winning streak is their second-longest of the season but it will be hard to top their 18-game win streak from earlier in the year. Their latest win came against the Bulls on Monday night where Giannis and Khris Middleton showed why they’re one of the better 1-2 punches in the league. Giannis notched his 4th triple-double of the year, 28 points, 10 assists, and 14 rebounds. Middleton contributed 24 points of his own to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. One improvement from Monday’s game that the Bucks could make would be limiting turnovers. Even in a 13-point win the Bucks turned the ball over an astonishing 23 times. There shouldn’t be too much concern based on the fact that the Bulls actually lead the NBA in steals per game and prior to that game, Milwaukee was top-ten in the least turnovers per game.
Charlotte Hornets Starting Lineup
The Hornets have hit a very rough patch after a surprisingly decent start to the year. Charlotte has sand witched two wins in between a six-game losing streak and the 7-game losing streak that they are currently on (2-13 in their last 15 games). This will be a tough matchup for the Hornets but they do get a favorable draw after Friday’s game with their next two coming against the struggling Knicks and Wizards.
The Hornets do not match up great against the Bucks with a lot of Milwaukee’s strengths lining up with Charlotte’s weakness. As I talked about in the Bucks’ analysis they are strong on the boards and on the interior on both sides of the court. Charlotte, on the other hand, is one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA (27th) and struggles to score on the interior (27th in 2-point FG%). On top of this, they are the lowest-scoring offense in the entire league.
The Hornets do have some nice young pieces that have fueled them at times this year. The two most notable are Devonte Graham and P.J. Washington. Graham has broken out this year and is one of the favorites for the Most Improved Player award. Graham is averaging 18.6 points and 7.7 assists which is a huge jump from his averages of 4.7 points and 2.6 assists last year. Washington has put together an impressive rookie year off the jump. He is playing a type of point-forward/stretch four role putting up 12 points, 2 assists but only 5 rebounds a game from the power forward position. Washington has also shown his ability on the defensive end adding just under a steal and a block a game.
Key Player Matchup
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs P.J. Washington
The matchup of forwards is one to watch. Both of these players do a multitude of things for their teams on both ends of the court but obviously on different levels. I expect Washington to split time on Giannis with Bridges and a few other defenders. Giannis is going to get his but there is an opportunity to slow him down a bit by making him work harder on the other end of the floor.
My biggest plays in this matchup are some obvious ones. Giannis, Graham, and Washington should all be in line for stat sheet filling performances. Some lower-priced guys are Malik Monk based off his potential volume scoring as well as Wes Matthews is Connaughton continues to be out of the rotation.
Bet on Matchup
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