The last time the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Traiblazers met, the latter were just days away from Norman Powell and Robert Covington’s expedition to the LA Clippers, and CJ McCollum was trying to fight his way to the rack. Fast forward about ten days, and we have a radically different game this time around.
Where we are
Milwaukee may not look all that different from their last showdown with Portland, but they’ve had enough roster swings in the days since to make it worth talking about. The biggest is the injury to Pat Connaughton, who broke a finger in the loss to the Phoenix Suns and will likely be out for some time, although he is expected to return before the end of the regular season. It’s a tough time for a team that just shipped most of its wing “depth” to Donte DiVincenzo, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye during the deadline deal that fired Serge Ibaka. Speaking of Serge, it seems likely he’ll make his Bucks debut unless we hear from Bud before the game. He’s not on the injury report and the trade has already been made official, so hopefully the big one gets his feet wet against a team that’s sorely lacking in size. The Bucks have three games against average to above-average competition heading into the break (James Harden won’t be playing pre-ASB for Philly), so there’s a chance to pick up the wins after a fairly successful 3-1 trip to the Western coast.
The unfortunate news for Bucks fans is that they are unlikely to have their big three available, with Giannis Antetokounmpo listed as questionable for this one with left ankle pain.
Portland, on the other hand, played their hand, and they cashed in on a one-way ticket to tanksville. After the Bucks played them, they sent CJ McCollum, Larry Nance and Tony Snell to the Pelicans for a group of picks plus Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas SAtoransky and DiDi Louzada. NAW was then sent to Utah for development prospect Elijah Hughes. Do you have all that? Me niether.
Long story short, I have little to no idea what the Blazers are up to here with Damian Lillard surrounded by, I guess, a few picks and cap space? It will all depend on whether they can actually do anything meaningful this offseason to acquire another star, or what kind of luck they get in the lottery, but I’m pretty dubious. Still, the Blazers decided to stay brave with two straight wins over the Lakers and then the Knicks. Milwaukee will need to be locked into the front end of a B2B.
The Bucks list Pat Connaughton, George Hill and Brook Lopez as all injured. Giannis is also doubtful, as mentioned above.
Portland, get ready, because here is the full list of injured: Eric Bledsoe, Joe Ingles, Keon Johnson, Damian Lillard, Nassir Little, Didi Louzada and Dennis Smith Jr. Yikes.
Player to watch
Who else but Serge can be the player to watch? I’m really curious to see how he fits into Bud’s rotation, who regularly trots Greg Monroe for over 10 minutes a night. I would expect Ibaka to slip right away in those minutes, with a slow build-up, considering he only averages 15.4 minutes per game. With Giannis’ potential absence, perhaps he’s getting closer to 20. What will he look like defensively? How will it work as a big pick-and-pop? Will it roll? It’s all on the table and hopefully we get a taste of it against the Blazers.
Game 58: Against Portland, the Bucks will…
Win big (by 10 points or more)
Win from close (by 9 points or less)
Lose close (by 9 points or less)
Lose big (by 10 points or more)
0 votes in total
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