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Preview and Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks West Coast Trip

The 8-1 Milwaukee Bucks will pack their bags for a four-game trip out West.  The Bucks will first stop in Portland to take on the Trail Blazers (Tuesday November 6, FSWI, 9 PM Central), followed by the defending champions Golden State Warriors (Thursday November 8, TNT, 9:30 PM Central).  The Bucks then finish the road trip with a back to back beginning in Los Angeles to play the Clippers (Saturday November 10, FSWI, 2:30 PM Central), and finishing in Denver to take on the Nuggets (Sunday November 11, FSWI, 7 PM Central).

The four teams the Bucks will face on the road trip all have winning records, and combine for a record of 29-9. It’s going to be a tough road trip for the Bucks, but I am expecting at least one win out of the four games.  If Milwaukee can split the road trip, it will be a successful road trip.  A winning record on the West Coast trip will force the national media to start talking about the Milwaukee Bucks as a contender to win the Eastern Conference.  The one knock on the Bucks 8-1 start is that they haven’t beaten anyone good yet. This road trip could give them some notable wins to add to their resume for the eyes of the public.

The Bucks will open up facing the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland has one of the best back-courts in the league with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who average 29.2 and 19.2 points per game, respectively.  Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon will take turns on Lillard and try to force the ball out of his hands making guys like Evan Turner, Jusuf Nurkic, Nik Stauskas, and other players beat them.  If Lillard and McCollum can combine for 40 points or less, I like the Bucks chances of winning this game.  If they want a winning record on the trip, Portland is a must win.  I’m predicting a Bucks win by 4.

Now to the game that I am drawing up as a loss for the Bucks.  The Thursday night, nationally televised game, against the back to back defending NBA Champions, Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are unbelievable and are impossible to game plan for.  The group of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson gives opposing defenses nightmares.  It seems that at on any given night, any one of those three players could go for 50 points.  If you’re the Bucks, you just have to keep up on the offensive end. Luckily, the Bucks love to shoot the three ball so who knows, maybe if they are hitting a bunch of threes the game could be close down the stretch and maybe they are able to upset the Warriors in Oakland.  Could happen, but highly unlucky.  In a very high scoring game, the Warriors win by 9.

The Clippers game could be a must win game for the Bucks if they are 0-2 coming into this game.  The Clippers don’t have the most talented roster in the league, yet they are still winning ballgames and present a difficult challenge to opposing teams.  The Clippers shoot the three ball extremely well, ranking third in the league in three-point percentage at 39.1%.  They ride with the trio of Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Lou Williams. Those three players combine for 52% of the Clippers scoring. If the Bucks are able to shut one of them down, and not allow a 28 plus point night from one of the other two, they should be fine.  Expect the Bucks to put the pressure on the Clippers defensively and the Clippers to shoot less than their season average of 39.1% from three. Bucks win by 6.

Milwaukee will close their West Coast trip with the Denver Nuggets.  Denver is a team on the rise in the Western Conference and could very well end up in the Western Conference Finals at the end of the year.  The Nuggets are currently undefeated at home, and the Bucks will be on the second night of a back to back.  Don’t expect too much from the Bucks due to fatigue as it will be the fourth game in six days away from home.  Denver will be rested since they don’t play the night before, and Milwaukee strolls into Denver for the second game of Denver’s four game homestand.  Although Denver doesn’t have a solidified superstar on their roster, they are an extremely well-coached and balanced team that make opposing teams fight for everything they get.  Big man Nikola Jokic is currently Denver’s best player averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game.  The Nuggets have five players that average over 10 points per game, and that’s with Guard Isaiah Thomas out due to injury.  Denver will beat the Bucks and my prediction is that it will be by 7.

The Bucks will go 2-2 on the road trip out West, beating Portland and the Clippers, which should make Bucks fans happy. Expecting anything more than 2-2 is unrealistic due to the quality of teams that the Bucks will be playing.  Milwaukee will then return home for a six game homestand against five Western Conference teams and one Eastern Conference team.

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