When: Mar. 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
How: Fox Sports Southeast (TV), WFNZ 610 AM (radio)
There have been a number of surprises in the NBA this year. Among the biggest surprises are two teams have legitimate chances to win 70-plus games this season, the greatest halftime act in sports - the Red Panda - pulled a Michael Jordan and returned back to the court after retiring last year in her prime, and the Milwaukee Bucks are all but eliminated from the playoffs before April.
Last year’s surprise 6th seed has since regressed to 13 games below .500 with only nine games left to play.
The Charlotte Hornets have gotten the better of Jason Kidd’s Bucks the last two seasons. The Hornets hold a four wins to two advantage over those two seasons including two wins and one loss this season. The games have been close and exciting for the most part. The average margin in these last six games has been five points. Speaking of exciting, these Bucks were a part of the first and one of the most exciting games in modern Hornets history.
What to expect tonight? The Hornets are the better team and the Bucks are trending down. Milwaukee has lost five of their last six games - including four straight - with their only win coming at home to a Memphis Grizzlies team whose best player to take the court that night was arguably Lance Stephenson. Let that sink in.
Milwaukee’s main threats come from their mini big-three of Giannis "The Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe, and Khris Middleton. In theory, the Hornets should be able to throw enough big bodies at Greg Monroe to take him off his game. Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, and Spencer Hawes will have their hands full with Monroe for sure, but it is certainly within them to slow down Monroe.
Antetokounmpo is a freak (no I couldn’t think of a better word). The Greek Freak is a six foot 11 inch nightmare at the small forward position. He shoots over fifty percent from the field while sporting season averages of 16.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. This is the type of game where the Hornets really really really miss Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There isn’t a player on Charlotte’s roster to matchup one-on-one with Antetokounmpo, so it is going to take a collective effort defensively to limit the Greek Freak’s production.
Khris Middleton just flat out gets buckets. He shoots just shy of forty-four percent from the field while averaging 18.1 points per game. This will be the Hornet’s first matchup against Middleton where Courtney Lee will suit up. Lee needs to be aggressive early and often to manage Middleton’s production. He will get his points, it is just a matter of how many the Hornets can hold him to.
The season is nearing its end. The Hornets need to close out strong to hopefully take a top 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. In order to achieve that goal, games against weaker teams need to be won.