New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks Preview
The Milwaukee Bucks will be at home tonight looking to win their 16th straight game as they host the New Orleans Pelicans in an interconference matchup on National TV. Unfortunately for the Bucks, in order to win that game, they’ll have to do so without their workhorse power forward and MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is out tonight.
The Bucks are 21-3, tied for the best record in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bucks have obviously won all of their last 10 games and they are 11-1 at home at Fiserv Forum. The Pelicans are sitting at 14th place in the Western Conference with a 6-18 record. They have lost their last nine games and are just 2-9 on the road.
This will be the first of a two-game regular-season series between the Bucks and Pelicans.
Time: 9:30 PM ET
Arena: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Pelicans: Derrick Favors, Zion Williamson, Darius Miller (O)
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dragan Bender (O)
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
The New Orleans Pelicans continue to struggle as they await the return of prized rookie Zion Williamson. They were blown out badly to the tune of a 46-point deficit on Saturday night 130-84 to the Dallas Mavericks. Then on Monday night, they seemed close to ending their skid, but could not get it done in a 105-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
“I don’t know if it’s getting worse but there are no moral victories, so we don’t have anything tangible that we can hang our hat on,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “Just playing close, that would be great if we were in a horseshoe contest, but we’re not. We can’t play close; we have to find a way to make enough plays to win the game and we haven’t done that.
“It’s getting to be a very frustrating thing for us. It’s frustrating as heck for us to show ball-movement and how we play to start the game and then we’ll go through a stretch where we’re not doing that. Some kind of way we have to get to the point where that is consistently what we’re doing. If not, we put ourselves behind the eight ball and have to make these great plays down the stretch to win games.”
The Pelicans were able to limit Detroit’s frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but Derrick Rose played very well, including the dagger of a last-second shot that secured the win for the Pistons.
Outside of about four players, most of New Orleans’ offense struggled. Brandon Ingram continues to lead the Pelicans, and he had 31 points. Jrue Holiday added 20, and Jaxson Hayes and Josh Hart contributed 13 and 12 points apiece off the bench. Three of the Pelicans starters managed just a combined 14 points. Lonzo Ball has also not shown the career progression most thought we’d see by now.
Even without Giannis, the Pelicans still face another stiff test tonight.
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
The Milwaukee Bucks won their 15h consecutive game on Monday night in a 110-101 win over the Orlando Magic. This is a far cry from Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rookie year where the team’s current streak matches the total amount of wins the Bucks had in 82 games that season.
“It’s amazing, I’m not going to lie,” Antetokounmpo said. “When I go back home, sit down and think about it, it’s amazing. My rookie year we won 15 games. Now we won 15 in a row. We can still extend it. But at the end of the day, the job’s not done. We got to keep playing hard. We got to keep playing together. We got to keep moving individually, keep improving as a team. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Giannis will be on the sidelines in a suit if the Bucks win their 16th strait at home tonight. Ersan Ilyasova, who has played well off the bench lately, is expected to start in his place.
Against the Magic, Giannis nearly had another triple-double with 32 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. Khris Middleton had 20 points and nine rebounds and they got double-digit performances from three members of their second unit as Donte DiVincenzo has 12 points, George Hill had 10 and Ilyasova chipped in 11. They’ll rely heavily on Middleton and the bench tonight in Giannis’ absence.
Key Player Matchups
Brandon Ingram vs. Khris Middleton
This one should be interesting. Ingram towers over Middleton and he has been on a scoring tear this season, but Middleton is a solid perimeter defender, who can guard several positions. They are both capable scorers, but Middleton is the better shooter from deep.
Jrue Holiday vs. Eric Bledsoe
I enjoy matchups of point guards that play much bigger than their stature. Holiday and Bledsoe are much more physical than most NBA point guards and they are both mentally strong, who enjoy a challenge. This matchup is about as even as it gets.
Khris Middleton and Brandon Ingram are standout players in this matchup. Middleton could also be considered in the value category as he has a low FanDuel salary of just $6.4k. With a projection of 36.3 points, he has a points per $1k ratio of 5.69, making him one of the better matchups tonight along with Eric Bledsoe.
Ingram’s value isn’t as great, but he is still expected to perform. He is available for $7.8k with a projection of 30.7 points. Jrue Holiday is also a good choice at $7.1k with a 38.7 point projection.
Bet on Matchup
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