The Milwaukee Bucks have officially started their difficult west coast road trip on the wrong foot. The Bucks fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 behind C.J. McCollum’s 40-point performance which included many jaw-dropping highlights. None were more memorable than breaking Donte DiVincenzo’s ankles and nailing the floater in the lane. So, what do the Deer have coming up to finish out this road trip? A difficult schedule for sure that starts with the defending champions.
Thursday night the Bucks take on the champs at Oracle in what is sure to be a high scoring affair in the Bay. This matchup will see the two most prolific scoring offenses in the league (in terms of PPG). The Warriors are led by one of the NBA’s most lethal scorers in Stephen Curry (31.3 PPG) and bonified superstar Kevin Durant (56.5% FG). This duo along with the sharpshooting Klay Thompson (20.5 PPG) and the team’s leader Draymond Green (7.9 APG) comes together with to form the core that could carry the team to a third straight championship.
For the Bucks to beat the Warriors on their home floor, where they rarely lose, they will have to shoot lights out as they have been doing all year and force the other Warriors to beat them. Coach Budenholzer will also have to stress keeping the ball out of Curry’s hands and forcing “the other guys” to beat them. This, of course, is much easier said than done and is what makes this team nearly impossible to guard.
There is one thing that Milwaukee has that the Warriors do not and that is the Greek Freak. The Bucks will need Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and their supporting cast of shooters to keep them in the game on the offensive end while hoping for misses and stops on defense. Antetokounmpo is the biggest matchup problem in the NBA and can terrorize anybody who tries to guard him. This will make his matchup with Durant even more entertaining as they go back and forth.
This game will be a great tape measure game for the Bucks to measure up against the league’s best in what should be a playoff atmosphere and playstyle. What is meant by that is a lot of switching, pick and roll sets, and in-game adjustments from both benches. The Bucks will have to match the athleticism that is on the floor for the Warriors at positions 1-5 which could mean limited minutes for slow big man Brook Lopez and more from more athletic big men like John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova.
Being considered one of the best teams in the East, it is definitely too soon to call this an NBA Finals preview, but it is without a doubt a time for Milwaukee to see how their new play style and newfound three-point shooting fairs against the champs. Stephen Curry said that the Bucks are similar to the Warriors of four years ago, and that this new style of play could “unlock” greatness (@ronkroichick).
Warriors 124 Bucks 121