After losing six out of their last seven games heading into last Friday nights game against the Knicks, Giannis Antetokounmpo decided he’d had enough. With 1:16 left in the third quarter, Emmanual Mudiay sunk a free throw to give the Knicks their first lead of the night at 85-54. In the 11 minutes and 35 seconds of play that followed, Giannis scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out one assist and had one emphatic block on Mudiay. He eventually sat with 1:41 remaining in the game. His work was done. The Bucks ended up winning 120-112. It was MVP caliber stuff.
They now travel to Memphis to face a team that has lost their last 17 contests by an average of 12.2 points. Currently sitting in the position that would grant them the best odds to land the number one overall pick in this years draft, the wheels have completely fallen off for Dave Joerger’s squad. With Mike Conley already out for the season, the Grizzlies have had a never ending injury list, with Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers already ruled out of tonight’s match-up.
The Bucks made a roster move yesterday, sadly waiving Mirza Teletovic who has been unable to play since November after a second recurrence of blood clots surfaced. Whilst it’s yet to be revealed what Milwaukee plan to do with the remaining salary on his 10.5 million dollar deal, they did announce the nostalgic signing of former Buck, Brandon Jennings. Jennings signed a ten day contract, and will be with the team tonight in Memphis. The last time he suited up with Milwaukee was in game 4 of the first round on the 28th of April 2013 against Miami.
The signing made sense, as it was recently announced Matthew Dellavedova had suffered a setback with his ankle injury. With Malcolm Brogdon still expected to miss several weeks rehabbing his quad injury, Milwaukee will enjoy a boost in guard depth with the Jennings addition.
It will be the second and final game between the two teams this season, with Milwaukee winning game one at the Bradley Center, 110-103. Antetokounmpo led the way that night with 27 points, matching Evans 27 down the other end. The two teams have taken significantly different paths since that night though, with this becoming a game the Bucks should easily be able to handle. Still sitting in the 8th seed in the East, the Bucks will be determined to climb up the standings. To do so, they must extend their winning steak to two.
Kane’s Keys To Victory:
- Quick Start: After losing a sting of close contests, the Bucks were in danger of letting the game slip when the Knicks took the lead in the third quarter. Milwaukee still remain just three games out of the fourth seed right now, and must continue to cash in on games against lower ranked opponents. The Grizzlies are in free fall, but give their young players a sniff of victory and you might find yourself in a dog fight. Getting off to a good start will be paramount.
- Boost Off The Bench: It’s no secret that the Bucks starters have carried the load this season. The Milwaukee second unit still ranks second last in the league for second unit scoring, averaging just 25.8 points per game. With Brogdon and Dellavedova still out, Jabari Parker, Sterling Brown, Jason Terry and Tyler Zeller have been giving the Bucks a nice scoring boost. Shabazz Muhammad scored six quick points against the Knicks, and now with the addition of Brandon Jennings, they have the makings of a potent bench squad offensively. Tonight shapes as a great opportunity for them to build on chemistry heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.
- Grapple Gasol: The Bucks have had major issues with opposition big men all season. Tonight they face one of the best in the business, three time all-star, Marc Gasol. Despite the Grizzlies tumbling down the standings, Gasol is still averaging 17.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He has scored over 25 points eight times this season, and posted 16 points and 10 rebounds against the Bucks earlier in the season. John Henson and Tyler Zeller will have to be wary not to let Gasol establish early dominance. It could spell danger for the Bucks if he does.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus