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Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee Bucks Preview

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The Trail Blazers escaped with a win in New York; can they carry that momentum into Milwaukee?

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (12-5) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (12-4)

Wednesday, November 21 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Moe Harkless (out), Seth Curry (probable)
Milwaukee injuries: John Henson (out), Donte DiVincenzo (out), Trevon Duval (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Brew Hoop

Update: Seth Curry is now listed as probable.

The Trail Blazers narrowly escaped Madison Square Garden with a victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night and head straight to Milwaukee for a rematch with the Bucks. The Bucks will be waiting, looking to avenge a 118-103 loss to the Blazers on November 6, their biggest loss of the season. The last time the two teams met, CJ McCollum poured in 40 points (you may remember he cooked Donte DiVincenzo) and Brook Lopez hit six three-pointers.

Both teams continue to play well. The Milwaukee Bucks lead the league in scoring, they are second in rebounding, first in net rating, third in assists, second in blocks ... basically if you open stats.nba.com you’ll see Milwaukee all over the leaderboards. However, they have been digging themselves into early double-digit holes of late. They are coming off of two come-from-behind victories this week against the Bulls and Nuggets.

What to watch for

  • Milwaukee’s second half. Milwaukee struggles to play a full 48 minutes but in the last 24 they have been superb. Giannis Antetokounmpo lifted the Bucks over the Nuggets with a flurry of dunks in the third quarter after trailing by 17 on Monday night. Down by 18 at the half against the Chicago Bulls, the Bucks put up a blistering 46-point quarter to regain the lead to win by 19. The Blazers need to be prepared for a second-half assault.
  • Second night of a travel back-to-back. The Blazers will be tired after playing a close game in New York on Tuesday night. The second unit has fought to find energy on this road swing. Blazers need to conserve enough energy to endure a second-half run by the Bucks.
  • Milwaukee is really good at home. The Bucks are 8-1 at brand new Fiserv Forum while the Blazers are a long way from home. Heading into game five of a six-game road trip, the Blazers have many more miles and several days before they return to Portland. Whatever the outcome of this game, they should make the most of this extended trip to bond (and practice alley-oops).

What they’re saying

Ranked second in the league in offensive rating and fifth in defense, the Bucks sit at number 2 in the ESPN Power Rankings:

Four of the Bucks’ five starters shot 50 percent from the field or better this week, while the other, Malcolm Brogdon, shot 54 percent from 3-point range. But balance is what sets this club apart.

Matt Velasquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel contends that the team is learning how to win with better coaching:

According to Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks probably wouldn’t have beaten the Bulls or Nuggets last year had they been put in those situations. He, like many players in the Bucks locker room, credit that to coach Mike Budenholzer, who loudly voiced his displeasure at halftime on Friday before taking a quieter approach Monday, telling them they knew what they had to do to bounce back from a 10-point halftime deficit.

Gabe Stoltz of Brew Hoops explains how Eric Bledsoe has made a key difference in the last two games (25 points against the Bulls, 23 against the Nuggets):

The Bledshow has been in full effect lately. I like this version of Eric Bledsoe. Actually, I REALLY like this version of Eric Bledsoe. His clutch play has been off the charts recently, going back to the Portland game. It all goes back to Budenholzer. The players give him the credit time and time again. . . . We saw how an incompetent coaching staff impacted Bledsoe last year and it’s night and day compared to this year. That massive three that he connected late in the fourth was just as loud as I’ve ever heard Fiserv Forum in its short history.

This preview was co-written with Lindsay Jansen, thanks for the assist!