Bucks vs Suns Preview
A re-match for Jae Crowder
The 42-17 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 33-28 Phoenix Suns at the Fiserv Forum in Downtown Milwaukee Sunday at noon on ABC. The Bucks are coming off a statement win vs the Miami Heat where they simply outplayed them in every element of the game. Giannis played for a few minutes and then left with a sore knee. He is not expected to play in this game. Neither is Kevin Durant expected to play for the Suns. Jae Crowder will play. It’ll be interesting to see if anything is said between Devin Booker, Suns Coach Monty Williams, and Crowder. His split from Phoenix was messy.
Currently on a 13 game winning streak, Milwaukee has been playing awesome. They came out blazing hot against the Heat Friday night and jumped out to a fast 10-point lead after the first quarter. New additions Jae Crowder (former Sun) and Meyers Leonard looked really good. They ended up blowing out the Heat.
Vegas has the Bucks as 4 point favorites with a 68% chance to win. It might simply come down to who plays.
Related: A Look at the Bucks Remaining Schedule
This is the first time this season these two teams will play. They will play again, Tuesday March 14th in Phoenix.
The Keys to a Bucks Win
Find the Hot Hand
When Milwaukee scores in bunches it is because they are getting the ball to the right guy. Milwaukee managed 42 points in the first quarter and 73 points in the first half against the Heat. It is really hard in the NBA to beat a team that scores more than 70 points in a half. The point guard position led the way for the Bucks. Even though Jevon Carter missed a bunch of threes in the 2nd quarter against Miami, he still played well (+11). Jrue Holiday was Milwaukee’s leading scorer with 24 points on 9/14 shooting. Everything about him screams “all-star”.
In terms of finding the “hot hand”, Khris Middleton shot the ball really well at times; so did Joe Ingles. Jae Crowder also shot well in his team debut. The former Sun was 2-2 from three. The key for Milwaukee is to continue to figure out who to get the ball to who is going to sink the shot.
Rebound the Ball
Milwaukee is 1st in the NBA in team rebounding. Against Miami the Bucks had 57 rebounds. It was simply a dominating performance on the glass. They really “out-toughed” the Heat.
“Move your feet”- don’t reach
The Bucks committed 18 personal fouls against Miami. The team showed some signs, at times, of sloppy play. But it was better defense than previous games and the team defense was more energetic and efficient.
Right now the Bucks average 19 ½ team fouls a game. Last year they only averaged 17.8. That does not seem like much of a difference but it really impacts the tempo of a game.
In the win against LA the Bucks still had 20 fouls. Against Charlotte (win) they only had 15. When Milwaukee fouls less, they play better.
Related: Bucks going for an undefeated February
The Opponent: The Phoenix Suns
The Suns were very active at the trade deadline. It’ll be worth watching to see if those moves pay off. They traded the farm for Kevin Durant. We’ll talk about how that created a “lack of depth” later.
Monty Williams is the accomplished coach for Phoenix. He is well-respected throughout the NBA. He helped Phoenix make that magical run in the 2020-2021 season to the NBA Finals, only to lose to Milwaukee.
Chris Paul (13/4/9) is the player-coach for the Suns. The 37 year old, 12x NBA All-Star runs the helm. He distributes to Devin Booker, arguably a top-three shooting guard in the league (26/4/5) who is seemingly back after some health issues. He is a good free throw shooter (86%) and good shooter all around (47%).
Deandre Ayton is the Suns starting center. The native of the Bahamas, Ayton is a beast down low. This season he is averaging over 10 rebounds a game and shooting 59% from the field.
So with Paul, Booker, Ayton and now Durant, that is a more than impressive “big 4”. But what else is going on in Phoenix?
Torrey Craig, who wore the number 3 for Milwaukee before being traded in that same 2020-2021 NBA Championship season, is the Sun’s current “5th man”. He was traded by the Bucks for cash considerations. Craig is a serviceable player. But his stats don’t jump off the page at you (7 points, 4 rebounds, one assists). The 32 year old will need to play better for them to win a championship.
Terrnence Ross was recently acquired on the buyout market. The left-hander Cameron Payne is the Sun’s back-up point guard. He is having one of his best seasons, averaging 12 points a game. Phoenix and their bench have yet to develop an identity.
Related: Might Milwaukee vs Miami Game Preview
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- Phoenix leads the All-Time Series 76-72.
- Chris Paul is the highest active NBA player in assists with 11,336. Jrue Holiday has 5,716 all-time career assists.
- If the playoffs were tomorrow Milwaukee would be in as the #2 seed. Phoenix would be in as the number 4 seed.
- The Milwaukee Bucks were founded in 1968. The Phoenix Suns were also founded in 1968.
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