A Possible Preview of the NBA 2024 Finals
The (34-19) Milwaukee Bucks take on the (36-17) Denver Nuggets on Monday night at home at the Fiserv Forum. The Bucks are (22-6) at home. Milwaukee won Friday night at home (120-84). The Bucks looked really strong Friday night!
They beat a Charlotte team that is trending downwards but still, it was great to have such a strong defensive effort.
For Milwaukee Khris Middleton will not play.
Milwaukee has three games before the all-star break.
The game will feature the two leading candidates for MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo (+900) and Nikola Jokic (+220).
Denver defeated Milwaukee in game one of the two game season (113-107).
Milwaukee Bucks Keys to Victory
Replicate that Friday Night Defense
Looking back on the film and highlights from Friday, the Milwaukee Bucks should do everything they can to replicate that performance.
53 team rebounds! Only 5 team turnovers! Yes please! Those are winning metrics that are important in any NBA game.
What was great to see what the overall defensive effort and intensity was up. Milwaukee took 94 shots to Charlotte’s 79. That almost doesn’t require any explanation, right? Shoot 15 more times and it stands to reason those opportunities will convert.
Whatever happens, the time is now for this team to get some momentum going into the all-star break.
Keep Scoring Points
The Bucks are 2nd in the NBA in scoring (122.9 points per game). Defensively they give up around 118 points per game. When you hold an NBA team to 84 points, that is pretty amazing.
In terms of field goal percentage Milwaukee is third overall in the NBA (49.8%).
Free throw shooting is looking like a weaker shooting spot for this team. Milwaukee is 17th in the NBA in terms of team free throw shooting (78%).
Against the Hornets, Giannis, Dame, Malik Beasley and Portis all went for more than 15 points. When you can spread your offensive production across four guys, that bodes well for everything you are doing. Surprisingly Giannis only went for 15 points. If he plays I’m sure he’d love to be able to go for over 30.
Milwaukee averages over 60.8 points in the first half in games this year. That’s 4th in the NBA.
Tonight Milwaukee needs to keep scoring.
Keep playing like ‘Dawgs’
There was a moment against the Hornets where both Bobby Portis and newly acquired Buck Patrick Beverly were hyping up the crowd after a Charlotte time out. But they weren’t doing it together. They were just doing what they do, being (as PJ Tucker used to say) ‘Dawgs’.
In the NBA sometimes you hear that as being called, “a glue guy” or as “hype man”. Whatever you want to call it, Milwaukee needs more of it. Giannis and Dame tend to be quiet, thoughtful superstars. The Bucks need these guys to stay in the face of their opponents.
The Opponent: The Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets won last year’s NBA championship.
Denver has played well of late, winning nine of their last eleven. But when you have Jokic, and he plays, you’ll be in every game.
Nikola Jokic (aka The Joker) is the real deal. (Shooting 59.1 % from the field.) He leads Denver in scoring, rebounding and assists. The former second round pick (43rd overall) is really, really good. He is 13th in the NBA overall in scoring, 4th in rebounding and 4th in the NBA in assists. It usually is that amazing assists number that catches fans off-guard. He is 7 feet tall and 4th in the NBA in assists! Wow!
The Nuggets have a great head coach in Michael Malone. His system fits the team’s personnel. It puts an emphasis on dribble handoffs. The Bucks will also run dribble handoffs but not at the volume the Nuggets do. With Jokic at that “point forward” position, why not?
Jamal Murray is playing well for Denver and he has made a huge difference this season. Averaging just over 20 points a game he is the #2 complement to Jokic that makes the Nuggets go.
Aaron Gordon is also having a good season for Denver. The former number 4 overall pick has really shot the ball well (58% from the field).
The Nuggets are like the Bucks in that they are loaded with veteran talent. Kentavarious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green are not new to the NBA.
Gordon played really well, and really aggressively (fouled out) in game one of the two game season series,
Christian Braun was the Nuggets number one pick (20th overall) in last year’s draft. Picture AJ Green but two inches taller. He is a shooter.
Reggie Jackson Jr. will play. He is the team’s back-up point guard. The former Clipper adds some speed and play-making ability off their bench.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- Last night the Kansas City Chiefs won making them back-to-back Super Bowl champions. The last time an NBA team won back-to-back NBA championships was in 2017 and 2018. (The Golden State Warriors.) So, not that long ago.
- Milwaukee leads the NBA in second half scoring.
- Jokic is listed as a true seven footer. He weighs 284 pounds. I have friends that weigh 284 pounds- they ain’t seven feet tall!
- Brook Lopez did not play so hot vs Denver last season, averaging 12.5 points per game and 0 blocked shots.
- Denver leads the all-time series vs Milwaukee 65-39.
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