The Bucks and Nets will square off for the second time in just over a week on Super Bowl Sunday. It will be a noon tip off in Brooklyn, as Milwaukee will look to keep the good vibes rolling, following their last second win over the New York Knicks.
Jabari Parker’s return to the court went of without a hitch, as the powerful forward was impressive in his carefully monitored time on court. Parker finished with 12 points in 14 minutes of play, going 4-7 from the field and 4-6 at the free throw line. The confidence in his knee appeared strong, as Parker launched for a trademark slam over Kyle O’Quinn and was fouled in the process despite not finishing the play. It was an amazing story in a largely forgettable night for the Bucks. Until the last play of the game that is.
Giannis Antetokounmpo spun his way to the rim and finished a lay-up with 1.9 seconds remaining to lift the Bucks to a 92-90 victory. The win moved the Bucks to 5-1 since removing head coach Jason Kidd, and improved them to 28-23 on the season.
The going hasn’t been quite as good in Brooklyn, as the Nets have lost three of four since they met the Bucks. Their latest loss to the Los Angeles Lakers was particularly painful after they entered the fourth quarter all square. Joe Harris missed a potential tying three pointer in the waning seconds and the Nets went down 99-102. Rookie Jarrett Allen was terrific on the night despite the loss, finishing with 20 points and 5 rebounds on 8-11 from the field. His athleticism for his size has been one of the highlights of the season for Brooklyn.
The last meeting between these two teams was all Milwaukee, as the Bucks demolished the Nets from the get go. Milwaukee led that contest by 23 points at halftime and cruised to a 116-91 victory. Antetokounmpo was unstoppable all night and finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists, going 3-3 from beyond the arc, the most three pointers he has made in a game all season.
In a major blow, the Bucks will be without Malcolm Brogdon for 6 to 8 weeks, after it was confirmed he has a slight tear in his quadriceps tendon. Veteran Jason Terry is listed as probable after missing the last two games for personal reasons. For the Nets, only Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is listed as out on their medical report for Sunday.
There has been no word on Jabari Parker’s minutes limit moving forward but with this being the first of a back to back for the Bucks, you would expect they will limit Parker to around the same 15 minute time frame in this one.
The Bucks have a nine game winning streak against the Nets, stretching all the way back to March 20th, 2015. They will set out to keep that winning streak alive in yet another afternoon matinee outing. As the Bucks continue to gain momentum, they must ensure they take care of business against lower ranked teams. A win here and the Bucks will move to six games over .500 for the first time this season. Leading into the All-Star break they find themselves with a perfect opportunity to set themselves for the stretch run.
Kane’s Keys To Victory:
- Defend The Three: I mentioned this in the pre-game last time and i’ll do it again here. The Bucks MUST be wary of this Nets team from beyond the arc. They rank second in the league for three point attempts per game with 34. True to form they shot exactly that number last time and through a mix of capable defense and some luck, Milwaukee limited them to make only 8 of those. Same as last time and every night for the Nets, they will fire away and the defense must be aware of this fact. Let the Nets get hot, and you could find yourself in trouble.
- Offensive Glass: The Bucks were destroyed on the offensive glass against the Knicks two night ago and they were almost as bad last time out against the Nets. Jarrett Allen, Tyler Zeller and DeMarre Carroll combined for 8 out of a total 11 offensive rebounds against the Bucks. And this was in a game they were never actually a chance to win. Against the Knicks, the Bucks were blasted on the offensive glass 4-18 as they let Enes Kanter grab 8 of his total 18 rebounds on that end. These are some disturbing numbers even for this team. The Bucks desperately need to do a better job of protecting their rebounds and what better time to do it then today.
- Calm Bledsoe: Eric Bledsoe is enduring a rough stretch since the New Year. He has been carrying an ankle complaint, his shot has been off, and against the Knicks he was simply to aggressive defensively. Bledsoe fouled out of the contest with 7 points in just 21 minutes. He was bordering on reckless on a couple of those fouls and the Bucks will want him to tone down the aggressiveness this afternoon. A terrific defender, Bledsoe possesses quick hands and excellent anticipation. The Bucks know if they pressure the Nets, they can force turnovers, so if Bledsoe can be a little more tactful in his approach, he could get find himself having a big night.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus