Golden State Warriors (59-13) at Milwaukee Bucks (13-25)
BMO Harris Bradley Center - Milwaukee, WI
5:30 p.m. PST
TV: CSN BA (local) | Radio: KNBR 680
Buddy blog: Brew Hoop
The Warriors continue their three-game road trip out to the frozen tundra that is Milwaukee. Spring you say? Compared to California Milwaukee might as well be Iceland. Coming off a playoff-like test passed with flying colors in Memphis on Friday night, the Warriors did their best to rest the starters in the fourth in preparation for the back-to-back tonight. Curry and crew had to come back in to finish off the pesky Grizz, but did some light work to wrap it up and warm up the jets for the short flight.
The Bucks present the usual challenge for a winning team - getting themselves up to play a lesser-talented team during the pains of travel. Jason Kidd has his team at .500% basketball, highly exceeding the expectations of pre-season fans and critics who pictured bottom dwelling for even the East standards. They were a Jabari Parker injury away from being even more competitive, though have dropped off as of late after a risky trade of their young point guard Brandon Knight. Michael Carter-Williams has the pedigree to be the Kidd-like mold point guard of the future, but the team has not gelled the way everyone would have hoped so far.
The Bucks have lost six of their last eight games, still consistently struggling to score points. It took a career night from Ersan Ilyasova the other evening to get them the win against Indiana. They have a good starting five full of length and size, which translates into a top-ten defense in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo (also known as the Greek Freak, also known as an award winning Scrabble word) represents what the Bucks will become - high promise, high skill, still putting it together. They have the potential to blow teams out on any given night, but they also have the potential to look lost and remind you why they are at the bottom of the East.
The Warriors handled the Bucks earlier this month back at Oracle 102-93. Credit the Bucks for making a game of it - MCW had a great night filling up the stat sheet and was backed by double-digit contributions from 4 other players. It took a big fourth quarter for Golden State to knock them off after digging themselves out of a second quarter disaster. Draymond Green had saved the day for a relatively poor shooting night from Curry/Thompson.
The Warriors are fully clinched into the playoffs at this point and have all-but wrapped up home court advantage and the Western's best record. They look ahead to their first round match up (most likely against the Thunder) and the only question that remains is will they take their foot off the pedal at any point? Will Kerr give some starters the night off tonight in the back-to-back? We could understand Bogut getting the night off in preparation for the Clippers on Tuesday. We could also understand Iguodala taking the night off after a poor shooting night in Memphis. Kerr has options, and seeing an advantage over a good matchup to give the back ups some run might be key.
Keys for the game
- Don't let the Bucks get confidence - Young teams feed on momentum and confidence. Allow the Bucks to get their home crowd behind them and this could be a long night for the Warriors. As the Bucks are a streaky shooting team, shutting them down early would control their pace early and make it a much easier contest.
- Who wants the playing time? - Give David Lee credit - he was able to get some great playing time against the Grizzlies last night after Draymond Green got into early foul trouble. He played great defense, he provided some great scoring and carried some great energy. Will he get the chance to step in again tonight? Will Festus Ezeli get some more playing time behind Bogut to keep honing his offensive game?
- Looking ahead, but not looking too far - Trap games are trap games, and this has all the makings to be one. A matchup against the Clippers looms large in the minds, but looking ahead too far means overlooking an Eastern playoff team in the Bucks.
- Draymond Green leads the way after a poor game in Memphis with a big offensive game. The Bucks don't have the extended defense to stop Green behind the pick and roll, and he will have plenty of open shots tonight to show off. The Bucks disrupted the Warriors on the defensive end last game, but don't expect the same issues to plague Golden State tonight. I see an easy win, 108 - 91.