The Houston Rockets make their once-a-season visit to Milwaukee tonight, but could they end up visiting Fiserv Forum a few more times?
With the Rockets having on 13 of their last 15 games, they have taken on the look of an NBA Finals contender fro the Western Conference.
The Bucks (55-19) have had the looks of an Eastern Conference contender from the get-go after their 7-0 start helped them build the league’s best record for most of the season.
The Bucks have not appeared in the NBA Finals since 1974, the last year their lineup boasted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
The Rockets haven’t made the Finals since they won the second of back-to-back title in 1995. They came a game short a year ago ehen tey posted the league’s best record but lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at home to the Golden State Warriors.
The game also matches the league’s two top candidates for MVP: Houston’s James Harden and the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Harden leads the NBA in scoring at 36.4 points per game. Antetokounmpo is fifth at 27.4, but also grabs 12.6 rebounds per game to Harden’s 6.4. Harden holds a small edge in assists (7.5 to 6.0), but Antetokounmpo is shooting 58.2% to Harden’s 43.9%. Antetokounmpo also is consdered a much better defensive player — in some quarters by a very large margin.
The Bucks beat the Rockets, 116-109, in Houston back on Jan. 9.
If the Bucks are to get to the Finals, getting healthy will be one of their top goals in the near future. Right now they are without guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Nikola Mirotic. Brogdon is dealing with a minor tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot, an injury many believe will keep him out of the first round of the playoffs. Mirotic has a sprained and fractured left thumb expected to keep him out another week or more.