Two of the top three teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference are going head to head Wednesday night. The Bucks have been streaking but Philadelphia hasn’t slowed down enough for them to catch up yet. Can Milwaukee make up a game against the current conference leader? Let me get you caught up!
Philly’s Star is Hurt
As many of you know, Joel Embiid is injured and won’t be available for this game. Luckily he avoided serious injury when his knee buckled during Friday’s game against Washington. The initial thought of many around was that Joel must’ve torn something in his left knee but an MRI revealed it was just a bone bruise. While that is a huge break for the team he will still miss 2-3 weeks as he recovers.
If Philadelphia is going to win they’re going to need to hit their shots from the outside and hope that Simmons can generate open looks for others. So far this season they are shooting a remarkable 38.4% from deep at home. Which would be good enough for 6th in the league overall. With Embiid out the Bucks should be able to stay on their man more often and not need to overhelp as much. Let’s hope that is the case Wednesday night.
Giannis Climbing the MVP Ladder
After recording his third consecutive triple double on Monday, Giannis needs to be in consideration for the MVP award yet again. He became the first player in franchise history to record three triple doubles in a row. He also overtook Kareem for the most 30 point triple doubles as a Buck. He’s passing the ball extremely well and making all of the right plays to help Milwaukee to victory. Currently Giannis is averaging 29 points, 11.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. He is doing it in all phases as the Bucks have won nine of their last ten games.
With Embiid hurt Giannis can really gain ground on the MVP race. Statistically you could argue he’s the favorite already, but due to the “narrative” he needs to really blow other players out of the water to receive it this year. Right now I believe the order goes Jokic, Embiid and then Giannis, but he is closing that gap quickly. If he pulls it off, Giannis would join Bill Russel, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird as the only players to win it three years in a row. Could Giannis continue his torrid run and help his MVP case even more in Philly?
Bucks’ Keys to Victory
If the two victories against the Wizards taught us anything about Bucks’ weaknesses, it’s that our defense is still suspect at times. Russel Westbrook and Bradley Beal each had very impressive offensive games against Milwaukee. On Monday, Beal seemed to score at will and took what was a 20+ point lead for Milwaukee down to five. If the Bucks can lock up and not allow players like Seth Curry or Tobias Harris to go on similar runs they should be okay. Simmons will score some buckets in the paint but if Milwaukee can limit everyone else they should be in good shape.
Similar to Beal, Middleton went on his own outrageous run in the second quarter of the last game. If Khris can provide an efficient 20+ points and Giannis has his typical 30 point game, they should be in good shape. Jrue Holiday is coming back around after a slow start off the COVID list. And Brook Lopez is playing the best he has all year so far. With Philly being on the second night of a back to back, I believe the Bucks will prevail.
Prediction: Bucks win 129 – 115