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Preview: Hornets host Bucks with both teams on second night of back-to-back

Maybe the early tip catches Milwaukee off-guard.

Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (7-15) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (15-6)

When: 6:00 PM EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — Statement (purple); Bucks — Association (white)

Injury report:

CHA: LaMelo Ball (left ankle sprain), OUT; Gordon Hayward (fractured left scapula), OUT; Cody Martin (right knee surgery), OUT; Dennis Smith Jr. (left ankle sprain), OUT.

MIL: Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee), OUT; MarJon Beauchamp (illness), OUT; Jrue Holiday (knee), OUT; Serge Ibaka (illness), OUT; Joe Ingles (knee surgery), OUT; Brook Lopez (rest), QUESTIONABLE; Khris Middleton (wrist), OUT.

EDIT: About an hour after the recap was published, the NBA released the official injury report for tonight’s game, and clearly the Bucks are treating this as a rest game for their stars. Giannis, Holiday, Lopez and Middleton are all likely to be out, leaving Milwaukee with a skeleton crew akin to the Hornets sans Ball, Hayward, Martin and DSJ.

Fresh off a stress-inducing win last evening, the Charlotte Hornets host the Milwaukee Bucks at The Hive with both teams on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Bucks welcomed Khris Middleton back to the lineup last night, making his season debut in a close loss to the Lakers following an offseason wrist surgery. Middleton put up 17 points and seven assists on 6-11 from the field in 27 minutes played, though Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters post-game that he’s unlikely to play tonight.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 40 points, seven rebounds and five assists last night, marking the sixth-straight game in which he scored at least 30 points. Antetokounmpo is second in the NBA in scoring this season at 31.8 points per game and fifth in rebounds at 11.2 per game, and unsurprisingly he’s the only player in the league averaging a 30-point double-double.

It’s been a resurgent year for Brook Lopez. The 34-year-old center is averaging a career-high 2.9 blocks per game along with his highest per-game point and rebound numbers since he was a Brooklyn Net. After missing all but 13 games last season, Lopez has firmly entrenched himself in the early-season Defensive Player of the Year conversation as the anchor to the league’s second-best defense (107.7 defensive rating).

Since falling 10 games below the .500 mark, Charlotte has won three out of the last four games. On paper, the Hornets are severely outmatched by a healthy Bucks team, but obviously that won’t be the case tonight. Regardless, they always manage to play the perennial title contenders closely and they have a great chance to pick up another win with the Bucks sitting half of their rotation. Tonight’s matchup is the first of the season between these two squads, but over the last two years, Charlotte has gone 4-3 against Milwaukee. Let’s hope the trend holds up tonight.