Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center
When: 8:00 p.m. EST
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Wisconsin
The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Charlotte Hornets are a better team coming out of it. The loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the season hurts a lot, but they added on Courtney Lee to try and make up for it as best they can. Tonight, the improved Hornets take on a not so improved Milwaukee Bucks team. The Bucks tried their best to improve at the deadline by shopping both Greg Monroe and Michael Carter Williams while even making an attempt at Dwight Howard, but nothing came through. Instead, they'll have to continue on with what's been a disappointing season.
The Bucks may have made the playoffs last season, but this is not last year's Bucks. Their identity has changed completely from a strong defensive team that relied on stops to win games to one that struggles on defense and relies on streaky shooting. They have some fun players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jabari Parker, but the team as a whole just isn't very good. The addition of Greg Monroe hasn't gone well at all, and the Michael Carter-Williams trade from last season has been a disaster. Right now, the Bucks are just trying to finish out the season and start over again. They'll keep some of their young guys, but most of that roster will not be around in the future.
Meanwhile, the Hornets were playing some quality basketball going into the break and will be looking to keep that stretch going. It looks like Al Jefferson may finally return to the Hornets tonight giving Charlotte their first game with Jefferon, Kemba Walker, and Nicolas Batum all on the floor together since 2015. Unfortunately, it's not a perfect bill of health with Spencer Hawes and Marvin Williams both dealing with minor injuries that could keep them out for the game.
This will be Hornets fans first chance to see Courtney Lee in action. It'll be interesting to see if he starts immediately or not, but what will be of more interest is to see how Charlotte chooses to use him. Can they get Lee to overcome his lack of aggression and willingly take more shots, or will they just accept that he's a player with a tendency to disappear and focus on just maximizing that as best they can?
Despite Milwaukee's struggles, this isn't an easy win by any means. The Bucks are still capable of beating someone that doesn't take them serious, and there will be a lot of different lineups tonight. This is a game where, due to Lee's addition and others returning from injury, Charlotte could very easily get caught off balance.