Houston, we have liftoff…hopefully: Bucks vs. Rockets Preview
What to Watch For: Bucks
Believe it or not, the Bucks played a close game for the first time in what seems like forever against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Obviously, the final play broke down in a hilariously tragic way, as Jeremy documented, and Milwaukee ended up on the losing end of a game yet again. But hey! They kept a game close! They lost by less than 10 points! They had a chance to win in the end! Maybe it’s the eternal optimist in me, but I can’t help but think that this performance was better than the six or so preceding it.
After a two-day layoff, we’ll be watching to see if the team can build upon Wednesday’s competent showing against a more challenging opponent. In particular, the matchup between Larry Sanders and Dwight Howard will likely be key. Sanders played one of his best games of the year against the Grizzlies, but the Bucks’ Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man frontcourt has struggled mightily this year against strong, bruising big men and Howard is one of the strongest and bruising-est. One of the keys to Houston’s offense is surrounding a strong post presence with shooters that can bomb away and allow the big man to vacuum up rebounds. If the Bucks’ post players can neutralize Howard, they may have a chance to slow a potent Houston attack. Maybe.
Pfffft, who am I kidding. Get ready for the Rockets to score ALL THE POINTS.
What to watch for: Rockets
The Rockets absolutely baffled me on Thursday when they played the Oklahoma City Thunder. They scored an unbelievable 73 points in the first half alone (for comparison, the Bucks scored 77 in an entire game the day before). They finished with 96. For those keeping score at home, that’s a whopping 19 points in the second half. I expect they’ll come out with a vengeance and attempt to prove that they’re much closer to that first-half team than the second.
I mentioned Dwight Howard earlier, but what makes Houston’s offense tick is its 3-point barrage. The Rockets lead the league, percentage-wise, in 3-pointers–nearly 33% of their field goal attempts are threes.While they’re statistically in the bottom third of the league in three-point shooting (34%), the volume and Houston’s up-tempo attack means that they average almost 105 points per game. That’s kind of a lot. They’re led by James Harden (6.2 3-point attempts per game), Chandler Parsons (4.4), and Patrick Beverley (4.2). Beverley may not play in this game due to a hand injury, but another in Houston’s bevy of shooters will surely step in to take his place.
Time – 7:00 p.m. CST
TV – FS-Wisconsin
Radio – 620 WTMJ
PG Brandon Knight
Khris Middleton Luke Ridnour
SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C Larry Sanders
PG Jeremy Lin
SG James Harden
SF Chandler Parsons
PF Terrence Jones
C Dwight Howard
Choose the form of the Destructor: James Harden
Beard aficionados rejoice: You’ll have the chance to watch the most prominent facial hair in all the league operate in this game. In addition to his visual distinction, Harden is doing his best to lay claim to the “Best Shooting Guard in the League” title. He’s currently averaging 24 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds per game while shooting almost 9 free throws per game. Remember when OKC traded him for a year of Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and a couple of picks? Ouch.
Prediction: Rockets 115, Bucks 97
Categories: Game Previews