Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
When: 7 p.m. EST
How: Fox Sports Southeast, WFNZ 610 AM
The Charlotte Hornets are back in North Carolina tonight, hoping to bounce back from a tough loss against the New Orleans Pelicans yesterday. Luckily, their opponents tonight, the Milwaukee Bucks, should be a much easier matchup for the Hornets.
The Bucks sit in the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 17-25. They've split their last 10 games with decent wins against the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, and considering the strength of their schedule lately, their only regrettable loss was against the New York Knicks last week. The Bucks are a bit better than they're given credit for.
Still, their net rating of -5.1 is good for fourth-worst in the league. They're an okay offensive team — about league-average, actually — but their horrendous defense has held them back. Opponents score 103.6 points per game against them, they don't guard the 3 well, they're responsible for an absurd number of fouls every night, and perhaps worst of all, they're last in the league in defensive boards. The Bucks can't do anything right on defense.
That's great news for the Hornets, whom up until recently were struggling to score. If the Bucks stay true to form, the Hornets' improved offense should continue to chug along, and if their defense is on-point, perhaps even a win.
Two things to watch for
Rebounds to rebound
The Bucks are an abysmal rebounding team, which is somewhat surprising given their athleticism and size. Opponents secure 11.7 offensive rebounds per game against them, good for fourth-worst in the league. That opens up opportunities for Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Marvin Williams to get easy buckets on putbacks. Steve Clifford doesn't prioritize offensive rebounding, but the Bucks' weakness on the boards is too good to pass up.
Stopping the Greek Freak
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks' second leading scorer, behind only Khris Middleton, with 15.7 points per game. The third-year swingman is quickly blossoming into a phenomenal two-way player capable of amazing feats of athleticism. He's shooting 50.4 percent from the field this season, and considering the Hornets' trouble with containing penetration and cutters recently, he could present problems for them. P.J. Hairston's probably going to be given the task of stopping Antetokounmpo, with Nicolas Batum focusing his energy on an equally difficult matchup in Middleton.