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Preview: Red-hot Bucks host Hornets off of seven-straight victories

Milwaukee started out slowly, but Charlotte is catching them on the upswing. Lucky them!

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brandon Todd/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (13-10) at Milwaukee Bucks (13-8)

When: 8:00 PM EST

Where: Fiserv Forum; Milwaukee, Wis.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Injury report

CHA: Cody Martin: out (illness), Mason Plumlee: out (calf).

MIL: Donte DiVincenzo: out (foot), Semi Ojeleye: day to day (calf), Brook Lopez: out (back).

Milwaukee was ravaged by COVID-19 and injuries at the beginning of the year, but since the returns of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, the Bucks have re-built their chemistry and ripped off seven-straight wins led by the typical MVP-caliber play of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The only Bucks that have participated in all 21 games are Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton, who are shooting 42.4 and 41.4 percent from long-range on high volume, respectively. Along with the two wing shooters, Bobby Portis has been a major factor in Milwaukee’s resurgence, averaging 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds on 59 percent true shooting in 12 starts as Brook Lopez nurses a back injury.

Ranking 11th in both offensive and defensive rating on the season, the Bucks jump to the number one defense over the last seven games. Milwaukee has been absolutely smashing teams during this hot streak, too; on the graph below, red means the game is a blowout in that team’s favor. Lots of red for the Bucks (and not much for the Hornets).

Antetokounmpo hasn’t gotten much buzz as a potential MVP candidate as Stephen Curry lights the world on fire (again), but he’s been incredible; 27 points (third in NBA), 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game all lead his team, while he trails only to Holiday with 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals. His 33.3 usage percentage is third in the league behind Luka Dončić and Paul George. The man is just a completely excellent basketball player.

Having dropped the last two games, Charlotte enters this matchup looking to get back on track. They’ve given up 146 (in overtime) and 133 points in back-to-back games, a sign that the defense that carried them to eight wins in nine games has faltered recently. Cody Martin and Mason Plumlee’s absences have been felt as the load gets shifted onto players like Miles Bridges and PJ Washington, who also need to carry a significant load offensively in order for the Hornets to succeed.

One more games until Charlotte finally gets some much-needed rest; after Wednesday’s game, the Hornets will be off for three days until they face Atlanta on Sunday, the first three-day break of the season. The Pacers and Pelicans are the only other teams in the NBA that will have played 24 games after the Hornets beat the Bucks tonight. Yes, we’re speaking it into existence.