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Milwaukee Bucks, NBA’s best, comes to Brooklyn

The Nets fell to the Magic on Saturday, which means they’ve lost two straight games for the first time since December 28th and 29th. I’m serious. The Brooklyn Nets Basketball Franchise had not lost two straight games in a month. Incredible. The loss to the Magic was frustrating, and both the absence of Spencer Dinwiddie and a true starting power forward were evident at times. It’s never fun losing a game that isn’t even close to a team worse than yours.

The next matchup, which will be at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, won’t be an easy bounceback game. The Bucks have the best record in the NBA at 38-13 and are 9-1 in their last 10. They are absolutely cruising right now and it’s going to take a gigantic effort to get in their way. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN at 7:30 pm, ET.

Injuries

Caris LeVert (foot) Jared Dudley (hamstring) Spencer Dinwiddie (thumb) and Allen Crabbe (knee) are out. Dzanan Musa has recovered from a shoulder separation and is on a rehab tour in Long Island. This just in: Joe Harris (left hip) is questionable. Of course.

Mitch Creek whose 10-day contract was scheduled to run out Monday has been renewed for another 10 days, reports FOX Sports Australia.

Eric Bledsoe (achilles soreness) is day-to-day, Donte DiVincenzo (heel) is likely out and Jason Smith (knee) missed Saturday’s game and is listed as day-to-day.

The Game

The Nets need to make a trade for a better power forward if they want to solidify their playoff spot as well as round out the roster going forward. Maybe not a big swing, trade the farm kind of deal like what it would take to get Aaron Gordon or even the kind of deal Kristaps Porzingis was just dealt in, but a smaller one just to get some reinforcements down low. Also, and I think this every time I write out that injury report, the cavalry is coming eventually. Caris LeVert has been out of two and a half months; Allen Crabbe a month and a half. They are due.

Sure the only injured Net who plays the 4 is Jared Dudley but the return of JD, Caris, Spencer, and even Allen is going to help give this team a shot in the arm down the stretch. Just something to remember.

The Bucks could be in possession of someone the Nets might be looking at and his name is Thon Maker. Also it’s been a longstanding theory of mine backed by no actual research but a lot of just me noticing things, that teams who play each other close to the trade deadline are more likely to trade with each other. If the Bucks front office brass make the trip to Brooklyn, it wouldn’t be too tough to get some face time with Sean Marks.

Maker is sitting out presumably because he’s on his way out, so the Bucks frontline is anchored by Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo (I guess, I mean who knows what “position” he plays anymore), D.J. Wilson, and Ersan Ilyasova. Brook, as has been well documented, is one of the best big man shooters in league now, hitting 2.5 threes a game on 38 percent shooting. The Bucks as a team attempt the second most three pointers in the league at 37.7 per game behind the Rockets 44.3 which is just like, so many threes. The Nets are 6th at 34.4 attempts. So this one’s going to be a shootout.

The Nets, without Dinwiddie or LeVert, really lack a clear second scoring option, and the burden now seems to fall on a new player on a night-to-night basis. Napier has been doing a decent job lately, scoring 18.4 points per game over his last 5 games, but he’s shooting 36/35/78 which is not ideal. He’s good in bursts, not for 30 minutes a game. The Nets are going to need to figure out where the extra points are going to come from if they don’t want to slip too much. After the Bucks they play the Nuggets, and then after a reprieve against Chicago they play the Raptors. Those are some serious teams that are going to take serious performances to beat.

Milwaukee, with the best record in the league, have two All-Stars in Giannis and Khris Middleton. Middleton is not quite a generational talent, but he’s really good at a lot of things and can shoot the lights out when he’s hot. He’s scoring 17.1 points per game with 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and shooting 44/38/84. He’s a really well rounded player, and a perfect counterpart to Giannis.

Treveon Graham, by the way, is on the weirdest streak maybe ever. In three straight games he has scored 3 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. The 3-and-3 x 3 streak is hilarious but also not great for winning basketball games because he’s a starter who plays a lot of minutes. Wild streak though. He’s also shooting 29 percent from the field this season. That’s uhhh, gotta be better.

Player To Watch

I have such a hard time putting anyone other than Giannis here, so that’s who it is. Giannis is having an amazing season as the best player on the team with the best record and is going to be in serious running for MVP. He’s scoring 26.6 points per game, grabbing 12.5 rebounds, dishing out 5.8 assists, and rounding it all out with 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks. The man stuffs a stat sheet like I stuff my face when there’s a plate of disco fries in front of me; with ease.

The man still cannot shoot a three, hitting just 19 percent from downtown, but he shoots a daunting 63 percent on two-point attempts which like, kind of balances it all out. I don’t know if Giannis will ever find a reliable three-point shot, but if he’s on the right teams like the one he has now, it almost won’t matter. Not until the playoffs, anyway. He’s going to be an issue for Brooklyn. He scored 31 points in their last match-up, and if he can be shut down even a little bit it might give the Nets enough room to sneak a win.

From The Vault

Hope everyone enjoyed the Super Bowl if you’re also into football. If not, hope you had nice weekends anyway. Here’s a fun song to either cap off last week or start off the new one depending on when you click on this article. Thanks for reading, by the way.

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, head on over to Brew Hoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation.

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