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Preview: Hornets begin two-game series at Spectrum Center with Bucks

Milwaukee arrives in Charlotte fresh off of a win in Brooklyn.

Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (20-19) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (26-15)

When: 7:00 p.m. EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Injury report

CHA: Vernon Carey Jr.: out (health protocols)

MIL: Grayson Allen: out (health protocols), Pat Connaughton: out (health protocols), Donte DiVincenzo: out (ankle), George Hill: out (health and safety protocols), Jrue Holiday: out (health protocols), Brook Lopez: out (back).

The first matchup between the Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks ended in thrilling fashion, with the Bucks collecting a 127-125 win thanks to a buzzer-beating coast-to-coast layup from Giannis Antetokounmpo immediately following game-tying triple from LaMelo Ball. Let’s hope the Bugs end up on the right side of this one.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the NBA in scoring at 28 points per game, seventh in rebounds per game at 11.4, and blocks a team-leading 1.4 shots per night while dishing 6.0 assists with noticeably-improved passing vision from his MVP seasons. There are so many great players in the league right now, but Antetokounmpo is putting up yet another season that places him among the top handful.

Khris Middleton has gotten going after a sluggish start but is shooting just 36.5 percent from deep, his lowest mark in four seasons. He’s still an elite shot creator, and the Hornets perimeter defense will have its hands full if they allow him to get comfortable in the early portion of the game.

Though the Bucks have been without Brook Lopez since the first game of the season due to a back injury, they’ve gotten plenty of production out of Bobby Portis. As Milwaukee’s starting center, Portis is averaging 15.6 points and 9 rebounds per game shooting 43.5 percent from downtown on 4.6 attempts per game, fourth among forwards attempting at least three 3-pointers per game. Portis has the size to beat the Hornets on the interior and the versatility to space the floor beyond the 3-point line.

Playing another competitive game against the No. 3 team in the East would be a fine result for the Hornets. Hopefully, a blowout of the Pistons, some time at home and having a squad that’s nearly at 100 percent health/availability for the first time in months will play to their advantage with Milwaukee in the second game of a back-to-back. It’s hard to beat teams in consecutive games. If the Hornets can jump on the Bucks tonight sans Jrue Holiday, it makes Monday’s game significantly less consequential.

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