The Bucks return home to take on Charlotte
The 25-13 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 10-29 Charlotte Hornets at the Fiserv Forum in Downtown Milwaukee on Friday Night. The Deer District should be rocking! The Bucks won Game One of the three game season series 105-96. The game was memorable because of who didn’t play, ala almost the entire Bucks team. Bobby Portis led the way with 20 points and Jordan Nwora started and scored 17 for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee’s starting line-up is expected to look quite different from game 1. Jrue Holiday is expected to play; so is Giannis. But against lowly Charlotte, it certainly would be understandable if the team took some time for “load management.” The Bucks do play 8 games in 13 days.
Vegas has the Bucks as 9 point favorites with a 78% chance to win. Charlotte has the worst record in all of the NBA. Makes sense.
Milwaukee will need to make sure to close this one with better 4th quarter defense out to avoid a major upset by Charlotte.
The keys to a Bucks Win
Finish the game
What is going on at the ends of some of these games? Against Toronto the Bucks gave up a huge lead, forcing the game into OT. Against Chicago the same thing seemed to happen. Milwaukee needs to rediscover that lockdown 4th quarter defense they had to start the year when they were routinely allowing less than 24 points in the 4th.
Statistically, it almost is too obvious. Against Toronto the Bucks were up by 21 points with 3:50 remaining. Milwaukee ended up surrendering 38 points in the fourth quarter, barely winning it in overtime.
The first time these teams played the Bucks only gave up 23 points to Charlotte in the 4th quarter. Let’s go for more of that.
Score over 118 points
In this space we are still trying to figure out that “total game points” magic number. (Yes, we all get it, if you score more points then they do, you win!) When the Bucks lost to the Wizards they only scored 95 points. That felt like an outlier. When they beat the Wizards they scored 123. That felt “right”. When they beat Toronto they scored 134 which also felt “right”.
When Milwaukee beat Minnesota they scored 123; when they lost to Chicago they only scored 113. (Hopefully you see the pattern.)
There seems to be something to that 118 point mark lately. Or even to the Bucks scoring between 115-120 points total. Milwaukee, so far in the 2022-2023 season, averages 112.5 points as a team. If they can get to 118, that bodes well for the Milwaukee.
Our three leading scores, Giannis (32.7), Jrue (18.4) and Brook Lopez (14.6) account for a big chunk.
The Opponent: The Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte might be trying to tank. It is hard to tell. With some major injury issues and concerns this team has not had a good season so far. 10-29 is the worst record in the NBA. But you are not here to have me read the standings; you are reading this for some analysis. So, we digress.
What is wrong with Charlotte? Injuries to Kelly Oubre, LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward this season have affected them. But this seems to be like a “being sick to get out of work vibe”. Oubre, a potential Bucks trade target, is scheduled to have hand surgery. Hard to “fake” that. Ball is back and has played intermittently well when he is available. Hayward has been listed as day-to-day for quite some time. If the team is in fact “slow playing” here that is their prerogative. “Load Management” is a real thing in a league where your top teams will play over 100 full-speed NBA games in approximately 210 days.
However, there is still plenty of season left.
LaMelo Ball is hands down the Hornets best player. He is dynamic, can pass, and can score. His scoring average is down in the few games he has played this season but it’ll be over the 23 points per game average he has now. He is only 21 years old.
Mason Plumlee (generally a below average center) has been their anchor in the middle (9.3 rebounds a game). Terry Rozier (a villain for Bucks fans when he played for the Celtics) is having a strong season. The Hornets only average 111 points a game while giving up 118. That is not going to win many games. Milwaukee only averages 112 points a game but only gives up 110.
The standout, break-out player for Charlotte has to be Dennis Smith Jr. He has played well in Ball’s absence. He is streaky and long. And while he is only averaging 9 points a game on the year, when he plays, he scores and distributes the ball. Smith Jr. averages about an assist every two and a half minutes he is on the floor.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- LaMelo Ball is only 21 years old. At this point it seems like he is the “best” NBA talent of the three Ball Brothers, led by LaVar Ball and the Big Baller brand.
- Michael Jordan, one of only three American professional athletes to be worth more than a billion dollars, owns the Charlotte Hornets. They used to be the Charlotte Bobcats. Former owner George Shinn moved the team to New Orleans. Then the NBA put another team back in Charlotte in 2004. (The Bobcats). Finally in 2015 it seemed to be agreed upon that Charlotte would be the Hornets and New Orleans would be the Pelicans.
- The Bucks lead the all-time series 64-59.
- If Charlotte is indeed trying to tank, it is for Victor Wembanyama. Remember that name. It appears as though he is going to be a generational talent. Click here for some highlights.
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