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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trail Blazers Preview

Giannis and the Bucks pay a visit to Damian Lillard and the Blazers at the Moda Center.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (26-27) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (36-17)

The Portland Trail Blazers are back at home after a successful road trip. While there is some disappointment that they couldn’t close the deal in the Windy City against the Chicago Bulls, most fans are reasonably happy with going two out of three on the trip across the country. Winners of five of its last seven games, Portland will want to rack up more victories before the rapidly approaching All-Star break. All five remaining games are at home.

The Milwaukee Bucks swing into Portland on the first game of their three-game West Coast road trip in fine form. The Bucks have won seven in a row and are challenging for the best record in the NBA. The biggest question for the Bucks right now is whether the team flight home from Los Angeles at the end of the week will have different passengers than it does arriving in Portland as their front office tries to make adjustments that will return the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy to Milwaukee.

Bucks vs. Trail Blazers - Monday, February 6 - 7:00 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA TV, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Greg Brown III (out), Greg Eubanks (probable), Gary Payton (probable)

Bucks injuries: Serge Ibaka (out), Bobby Portis (out)

SBN Affiliate: Brew Hoop

The Matchup

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo. 35, 54, 34, 50 and 41 points. Those may sounds like Damian Lillard numbers, but they are actually from Giannis over the last five games. Throw in 15, 19, 18, 13 and 12 rebounds... and we have a problem. The last time he didn’t get a double-double was January 6. He’s at the top of his game and there really isn’t proven plan for stopping him. Maybe try fouling him before he gets to hoop? He’s shooting 64.4 percent from the free-throw line, so at least we know he’s human. How the Blazers try to defend him will be worth watching.
  • Shooting. The Bucks aren’t particularly a great shooting team. They shoot 46.1% from the field and 35.8 percent from deep, good for 23rd and 17th in the league respectively. It’s also not just Giannis who has some struggles at the charity stripe. The team as a whole is shooting 73.5 percent, second worst in the NBA. If the Bucks are at or below their shooting averages it should be an exciting game. If they are above their averages, look out.
  • Rebounding. Milwaukee owns the defensive glass. Their defensive rebounding percentage is 74.2 percent, second best in the NBA, and they lead the league in defensive rebounds per game. While their roster includes five players 6’10” or taller, only two of them, Giannis and Brook Lopez, are likely to play against the Blazers. Unfortunately Giannis and Brook are more than a handful by themselves, and the rest of the team pull down more rebounds than you might think given their respective heights. Odds are the Bucks will pull down more boards than the Blazers, but if the Blazers can keep it close they’ll give themselves a chance.

What Others Are Saying

Brian Sampson of Forbes looks at who the Bucks might be targeting at the deadline.

I’ve ranked the top 12 potential trade candidates who are both realistic and fill an immediate need on the Bucks’ roster. There are a couple of caveats: I eliminated any player requiring Milwaukee to ship at least three of their own players and only receive one in return. It’s too hard to replace two roster slots at this point, and three-for-one deals are unrealistic in the middle of the season.

Van Fayaz at Brew Hoop has the Milwaukee perspective going into the trade deadline.

Once again, the likelihood remains that Horst does swing a deal. Since assuming his post in June 2017, he’s been active at every deadline but one (in 2020, right before the world changed), so it would come as a mild shocker if he doesn’t pull the trigger for the fourth time in five seasons. Will it be for a Nikola Mirotic/P.J. Tucker-type name? Or a less sexy Serge Ibaka or Tyler Zeller? Let’s get into it.

Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that multi-time gold medalist Lauren Holiday and her husband Jrue are working to help renovate local shelters.

Known for their community work before coming to Milwaukee, the Holidays have stepped up those efforts, pledging salaries to help the community, supporting Black-owned businesses and looking for more ways to prop up community centers and projects.