Matchup: Golden State Warriors vs Milwaukee Bucks
Records: Warriors (17-9), Bucks (16-7)
Where to Watch
Date: Saturday, Dec. 8
Time: 8 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten1 & Sony ESPN
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
This is the second time the Bucks and Warriors will be facing off this season. Will this second matchup be a repeat of the first one (a 23-point Milwaukee win) or will a better Golden State performance give us a mouth-watering competitive clash?
Given the teams' averages and rankings across numerous categories, unless one team just doesn't show up, this promises to be a great Saturday morning must-see game. Both the Bucks (1st - 121.1) and Warriors (3rd - 116.8) are two of the top three teams in the league points averaged per game.
The Warriors rule the league in shooting - 49.7% from the field (1st), 39.1% from three-point land (1st) and 82.6% from the free-throw line (2nd) but that was never the issue. It's their defense that has had them struggling or to be more precise, the team struggles without Curry. In Steph's absence, the Warriors went 5-6 with a defensive rating of 111.3 (23rd-best) but it's not like their defense for the entire season is among the top teams either - 109.4 (19th-best).
A lot of those defensive numbers has got to do with the absence of Draymond Green, who has missed 13 of the last 15 games. Numbers-wise, his absence seems to be everything. In the 13 games, Green has played, the team has a defensive rating of 101.7 while he is on the court (a team-best) and the team's defensive rating falls to a team-worst 111.4 when Green is on the bench.
The Milwaukee game being the last contest of the Warriors' 5-game East road trip, Green is expected to sit it out and he will reportedly return on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Having said all of that, the Warriors have bounced back winning five of their seven games since their four-game losing streak and Curry has been part of the last three, looking in great shape with averages of 33.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 53.4% shooting from the field and 54.5% from beyond the arc.
Coming to Milwaukee, it's been a rather inconsistent 9-7 run since the beginning of November after they started the year 7-0.
Now, a couple of those seven losses came on a grueling 4-game West road trip against the Blazers in Portland and the Clippers in Los Angeles but on the flip side, since that trip, they've also lost winnable games against the Phoenix Suns (at home) and the Knicks (overtime loss in New York).
Still, they are currently second in the East and showing huge improvements from last season. They obviously lead the league in offensive rating (115.1) but their bigger improvement has come on the defensive end of the floor where they have a 105.0 rating (6th best), a huge leap from their rating last season - 109.1 (18th best). They rank third in the league in forcing their opponents into mid-range shots (17.7 attempts),
Offensively, they've made a great tactical change. Implementing their new head coach Mike Budenholzer's 3-point shooting fever, the Bucks attempt the second-most three's in the league at 40.6 (24.7 attempts - 25th best last season) while making 36% of them which is good for 9th-best (last season - 35.5, 22nd best).
While those stats aren't headlining the league, they are a huge step in the right direction. In the meantime, they have a freak from Greece - Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is the reigning Player of the Month for October and November and has at least one highlight play each game.
Hosting the Warriors completes a great homestand (9 of their last 11) for the Bucks and now they have seven of their next nine games on the road, starting with the Raptors in Toronto on Monday.
Last Time They Played
Date: Nov. 9, 2018
Score: Warriors 111, Bucks 134
Warriors: Kevin Durant - 17 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo - 24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks