Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 will bring us a matchup between two NBA franchises headed in opposite directions. The Milwaukee Bucks will continue a three-game road trip with the second stop being in New Orleans to face the Pelicans.
The Bucks like the Pelicans made the playoffs in 2018 but struggled in so doing. After a 23-22 start to the 2017-18 season, head coach Jason Kidd was fired. The Bucks wound up with a 44-38 record which was good for 7th overall in the East and pushed the Boston Celtics to a 7 game first round series which the Bucks lost.
Now led by head coach Mike Budenholzer in the 2018-19 season, the Milwaukee Bucks are dominant in the East and are the best team in the NBA with a record of 50-17. While the Bucks did lose Sunday night in San Antonio, they sport a strong road record of 23-12 and have won seven of their last ten games.
On the court, they are led by one Giannis Antetokounmpo who along with Houston’s James Harden is one of the two most likely candidates to be named the regular season MVP. Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks in scoring (27 ppg), assists (6 apg), and rebounding (12.6r pg). His defensive prowess is impressive as well. He averagies 1.4 bpg and 1.3 spg.
The Pelicans are a different story. While they also advanced to the playoffs in 2018, getting knocked out in the second round by the Golden State Warriors, the Pelicans have had a rough 2018-19 season and will almost certainly miss the 2019 playoffs. Their poor performance on the court has almost assuredly made it imperative for the management to trade Anthony Davis the coming summer and he is perhaps the only star player this team employs.
In fact, he has essentially requested a trade and his desire to leave has already resulted in the firing of former general manager Dell Demps. The Pelicans are 30-39 which is good for 12th in the NBA’s tough Western Conference. With a strong team like the Bucks coming to town on Tuesday, the only positive is the Pelicans actually have a winning record at home at 18-14.
Expected Starting Lineups
Milwaukee Bucks Starters
With 15 games left and nothing but home-court advantage in the playoffs to play for, Mike Budenholzer may start considering resting certain players. With that said, the expected starters for the Milwaukee Bucks will be Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe at the guard spots. The frontcourt will consist of center Brook Lopez and forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
New Orleans Pelicans Starters
With injuries to Jrue Holiday, E'Twaun Moore and Trevon Bluiett, expect the Pelicans to start Elfrid Payton and Frank Jackson at the guard positions. Julius Randle and Kenrich Williams should be the starting forwards and Anthony Davis will play center.
Expectations and Match Prediction
The New Orleans Pelicans have not only lost their last three games but have lost their last three home games. They have given up an average of 117.3 ppg to their opponents in those last three home games including 127 to the Raptors last Friday night. They rank 29th in the NBA in points allowed at 115.4 per game. If you combine that with the fact that the Bucks are 2nd in the NBA in scoring, Tuesday could be a tough night for the Pelicans.
The Pelicans do rank third in the NBA in points per game with 115.6. However, with Jrue Holiday’s 21.2 ppg unavailable due to an injury and Nikola Mirotic’s 16.7 ppg traded to the Bucks, the Pelicans may have more difficulty running up the score. In fact, in their last three home games, the Pelicans have averaged just 106 ppg.
The Pelicans do move the basketball well and even without Holiday's 7.7 apg available, Elfrid Payton averages 6.6 apg. Neither team in this contest is a great three-point shooting team and the Pelicans are 22nd in the NBA at 34.8% from long range on just under 30 attempts per game.
The Pelicans will battle the Bucks under the glass but while they are 2nd in the NBA averaging 47 rebounds per game and 5th with 11 offensive boards a game, they do give up an average of 10.7 offensive boards a night. They are going to need to prevent Milwaukee from getting second-chance opportunities. Anthony Davis and Julius Randle combine for 20 rebounds a game.
As for the Milwaukee Bucks, they are averaging 117.4 ppg for 2nd in the NBA. They shoot just 35% from the three-point arc but they are averaging 38 attempts per game. They also have 6 players scoring in double digits led by Antetokounmpo at 27 per game. The battle on the boards will be intriguing in this game as Milwaukee is the only team better than the Pelicans at rebounding averaging 49.3 total rebounds a game.
A major area of concern for the Bucks is ball security. While they do average 26 assists per game, they turn it over 14 times a game. This problem is highlighted by their on-court leader in Antetokounmpo whose assist to turnover ratio is 6 assists to 3.8 turnovers per game. Khris Middleton also has to take better care of the basketball with an average of 4.2 assists to 2.3 turnovers a game.
Ultimately, the Milwaukee Bucks are a good road team. They are the best in the NBA at least by their win-loss record and they play extremely well on the road. This contest will most likely finish in the Bucks favor by a 10 point margin.Published 12 Mar 2019, 00:13 IST