Matchup: Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets
Records: Bucks (28-11), Rockets (23-16)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Jan. 10
Time: 6:30 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten1
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
With a 11-14 record through the season's first 25 games, it was tough to argue against the fact that the Rockets' being one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
To be fair, they did go through their fair share of roster issues - depth, injuries to key players and a slightly different roster that couldn't perform on both ends of the floor like last year.
Nonetheless, through 25 games, they had the league's 6th worst defense and were ranked 14th in the Western Conference. Were they going to go from Conference Finalists last year to missing the Playoffs this season?
Well, the reigning MVP James Harden had other ideas. Since Dec. 9, over the next 14 games, he averaged 39.4 points, 9.2 assists, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on 42.9% shooting.
More importantly, he has led the team to a 12-2 record (Chris Paul has been rehabbing his hamstring for the past eight games while Eric Gordon has been out since the New Year). From being 14th, Houston has leapfrogged into the West Playoff race and is currently tied for the fifth seed in the West.
This Bucks game is the second contest of a favorable stretch for the Rockets where they play six of seven games at home, where they have been unbeaten in the last 10 games.
Although Houston has beaten contending teams like the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors during this stretch, it will have its hands full against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee, the team with the league's second-best record at 28-11, is the only franchise to rank in the top 5 for offensive (113.5 - 2nd) and defensive rating (104.3 - 4th).
The Bucks have been fueled to their best start in quite a while by their MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who's averaging career-highs in rebounds (12.6), assists (6.0) and field-goal percentage (58.3%).
Over the span of one summer, when they appointed Mike Budenholzer as their new head coach, the Bucks have quickly adapted to the new-age NBA. They rank second in the league in 3-pointers made and attempted (second only to Houston in both categories) while forcing their opponents into the third-most mid-range shots in the league.
- The Houston Rockets are set to play hosts for the 20th time this season and they have gone 14-5 in their previous 19 games at the Toyota Center.
- On the other hand, the Milwaukee Bucks are 9-7 in their 16 road games so far.
- Other than missing Carmelo Anthony (Coach's decision) and Vincent Edwards, the Rockets will also be missing Chris Paul (Hamstring) and Eric Gordon (Knee).
- Meanwhile, for the Bucks, Christian Wood is expected to be out of the contest while Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson are reportedly game-time decisions.
Last Time They Played
Date: Mar. 8, 2018
Score: Rockets 110-99 Bucks
Rockets: Chris Paul - 16 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds
Bucks: Khris Middleton - 18 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.