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Golden State should expect Milwaukee’s best

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Milwaukee tends to play its best ball against the top teams in the league. Will the Warriors maintain their focus on defense? How will small ball fare against this tall lineup?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks
Stephen Curry does his best to fend off the long arms of the Greek Freak.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (54-14) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (34-34)

How to watch

Date: Saturday March 18, 2017

Time: 7:30pm PST

Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

TV: CSN Bay Area

Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Team comparison

Injury report

Last updated 3/17/17

Warriors: Kevin Durant

Bucks: Michael Beasley, Jabari Parker

The Bucks bring it against the best teams

Get those 34-35 t-shirts printed; the Bucks are in town! Always a feisty bunch, the Bucks are scrapping for a playoff spot in the pathetic Eastern Conference. They’ve been playing well recently, including an 8-2 record so far in March after two wins in LA this week.

With a losing record, you wouldn’t expect Milwaukee to give the Warriors much trouble. I mean, it’s a losing record in the Eastern Conference — how good can they be? But the Bucks, for whatever reason, seem to get up for games against the top teams. Take a look at their games against Cleveland, Golden State, and San Antonio this year.

  • 124-121 loss to Golden State on November 19, 2016
  • 118-101 win over Cleveland on November 29, 2016
  • 97-96 loss to San Antonio on December 5, 2016
  • 114-108 OT loss to Cleveland on December 20, 2016
  • 113-102 loss to Cleveland on December 21, 2016
  • 109-107 win over San Antonio on January 10, 2017
  • 102-95 loss to Cleveland on February 27, 2017

Yes, there are five losses in that list, but a majority are close games or wins. Imagine if the Bucks were this motivated to play against every opponent... Even after a few days of chilling in Los Angeles and pounding on bad teams, count on Milwaukee to be rearing to go in Oakland tonight.

Milwaukee is also a better team today than it was at the beginning of the season. Khris Middleton’s return to the roster in February has sparked a 12-4 run since a disheartening loss at home to the trainwreck of a team from L.A. owned by quibbling siblings.

Don’t sleep on the Bucks; they may make some noise in the East with Middleton back in the lineup. We’ll see if the Warriors can match their intensity tonight. At least this time it’s Golden State’s opponent that’s traveling on a back-to-back, as the Warriors will do again next week against the Spurs.

So can the Warriors bring their best?

The big question for the Warriors is whether they’ll bring the defensive intensity we've seen pretty much since the fourth quarter of the 76ers game on Tuesday. The Dubs looked like the 2016 Warriors against Orlando on Thursday, holding the Magic to 21 or fewer points in three of the four quarters and fast breaking like crazy off of 19 turnovers. Momentum is building! Is it here to stay?

When the Warriors succeed on defense, the offense tends to follow. And when Golden State can suffocate an opponent’s offense with a small ball lineup, the results are usually great for the Warriors.

That said, with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and other large bodies on the roster, Milwaukee poses a threat to Golden State’s small lineups. In the previous game this year, Antetokounmpo rattled off 30 points to go with six assists and four rebounds. Of course, Draymond Green stole the ball from him in the closing seconds to seal the Warriors’ victory, but without Kevin Durant this time around the undersized Warriors will have to dig deep, and tall, on defense.

And, in what’s bound to be a physical game, let's see how Stephen Curry's ankle holds up. Curry tweaked the ankle early against the Magic and left the bench during the fourth quarter to start treatment for it. Golden State would love to keep Curry off the floor in the fourth quarter again tonight in a blowout, but given the recent history of these teams let’s just hope that Curry doesn’t aggravate the injury at any point.

What’s your take, DubNation? Is Milwaukee legit or should the Dubs blow them out?