Charlotte beat the NBA champs two days ago. Let’s see if they can pull it off one more time.
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Let’s do it again! The Hornets and Bucks faced off just 48 hours ago with Charlotte bringing home an impressive 114-106 victory despite 43 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo. If there was ever a time the Hornets would want to face the defending NBA champions it’s now while Charlotte is relatively healthy and Milwaukee is dealing with a slew of health issues.
Milwaukee Bucks Overview
The Bucks have been hit hard by COVID and injuries. While Milwaukee’s two key players, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton, are still playing, nearly every Bucks guard is out including George Hill (protocols), Grayson Allen (protocols), Jrue Holiday (ankle), and Donte DiVincenzo (ankle). Pat Connaughton has missed the last several games due to the league’s health and safety protocols but is questionable tonight. I wonder if Michael Redd is still available?
In addition to Giannis and Middleton, the shorthanded Bucks have been starting wing Wesley Matthews, forward Jordan Nwora, and center Bobby Portis. This isn’t the same roster that won the NBA title last season. As a result, Milwaukee has now lost three of its last four games.
The Bucks current bench is a hodgepodge of journeymen and unproven guys. Veteran guards Rodney Hood and Langston Galloway are playing 15-plus minutes. Forwards Semi Ojeleye and Sandro Mamukelashvili have been on the floor quite a bit as of late. If you’re a Bucks fan, that’s far from ideal.
How the Hornets Can Win
To keep it simple, the Hornets can pull off back-to-back victories against the Bucks by simply doing what they did on Saturday night – but with one exception. They need to contain center Bobby Portis. He went for 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting and hauled in 13 rebounds. Giannis and Khris Middleton are going to get theirs on a nightly basis – they combined for 70 of Milwaukee’s 106 points in their last game – so the key is for Charlotte’s defense to limit the third and fourth scoring options. It was Portis on Saturday, so it’s time to lock him down tonight.
Additionally, in Saturday’s game Giannis went 18-of-20 from the free throw line which isn’t sustainable for a career 72% free throw shooter. I don’t mind putting him on the line if the alternative is a shot at the rim.
Let’s see if the Hornets can take down an Eastern Conference contender for the second time in as many games. Wins like these in January matter when playoff spots are decided later in the season.