Bucks vs Knicks Preview
The 25-14 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 22-18 New York Knicks Monday Night in New York City. This is the third time this season these teams have played- the Bucks won the first match-up 119-108 and the second 109-103.
The Knicks have been average at home with a 10-10 record. They have gotten consistent point guard play from Jalen Brunson but the Bucks should be able to exploit some weak interior play. (11th in team defensive rebounding, 15th in team block shots)
The schedule makers continue to be unkind to the Bucks- eight games is thirteen days is a lot of basketball. Having played Friday, this is the longest “rest” stretch of the past week and of the upcoming week. The Bucks got smoked by the Hornets on Friday night, 138-109. They gave up 51 points in the first quarter alone.
Vegas has the Bucks at a 38% chance to win this game against the Knicks and 3 point underdogs. This is a game the Bucks should win. A win will help them continue to establish dominance in the East.
Keys for the Bucks
Get stops on defense
Milwaukee can play defense. They have kept opponents under 100 points ten times so far this season. For the Bucks good defense triggers an attacking, three-point shooting offense. Milwaukee needs to get stops against the Knicks. There must be a renewed focus on playing defense for this team to win games.
Effort is also a big part of playing good defense. Against Charlotte the effort just did not seem to be there. Jrue Holiday and George Hill were still sick; Brook Lopez did not block any shots. Giannis only played 22 minutes. The Bucks need to close out spacing, shuffle their feet, don’t reach, and get back to the defensive basics. Giving up 102 field goal attempts to a team (Charlotte on Friday) is simply a clear cut sign there is not enough effort being made to make stops.
Keep Shooting the three
In a Mike Budenholzer-Greg Popovich- Steve Kerr system, you shoot the three because it is worth more than two. If you shoot 40 threes, you only have to make 20 of them to get to sixty points. If you shoot 40 twos you have to make 30 of them to get to sixty points.
Most teams don’t shoot 50% from three ( Even Charlotte was 20-48 against the Bucks in the Friday Night thrashing in Milwaukee.) But to be fair, most teams don’t shoot 75% from the field either. You shoot threes. It is the NBA landscape today.
To the Bucks credit against Charlotte, they also did shoot 20-48 from three. They need to keep shooting the three. That is a positive. The problem in that game was Charlotte was able to attempt 102 twos. Wow!
The Opponent- The Knicks
The Knicks have some good players. RJ Barrett is one of them. However, he is out. He was having a great season.
Julius Randle is another good player and has played really well of late. Averaging 24.4 points a game, Randle can move well with new point guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson has really helped provide stability for them at the point guard position. Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickly were an interesting experiment last season but Brunson has been much, much better. (20pts-3reb-6 ast) Isaiah Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson are rounding into being very serviceable centers. They will give the Bucks (and Brook Lopez) a worthwhile challenge.
Back to Randle, he plays a lot (35 minutes a game) and has really been rebounding the ball well (10 rebounds per game). The Bucks will need to play strong defense against him to have a chance to win.
Things to tell your buddies while you are watching the game
- The Bucks begin a big four game east-coast road trip against the Knicks.
- The Bucks lead the all-time series 121-105.
- Giannis has only averaged 23.1 points in his career against the Knicks. In the last three games against New York he has scored over 30 but the Knicks can give him trouble.
- Jrue Holiday as a point of comparison has had some really great games against New York. He shoots over 40% from three vs the Knicks and has averaged over 7 assists against them recently.
- Since this is the last time the Knicks will play the Bucks in the regular season here is one more crazy New York fun fact: Over 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. Adios!
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