Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets: Match Preview and Predictions - 24th October 2019
Date and time: Thursday, 24 October 2019, 8:00 PM (ET)
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Last game result
Milwaukee Bucks: 118-96 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (Preseason, 18 October)
Houston Rockets: 144-133 win over the Miami Heat (Preseason, 18 October)
While located in separate Conferences, both the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks enter the new season with the goal of making the NBA Finals.
The Bucks were eliminated by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, although Leonard's move to Los Angeles has provided the Bucks with a huge opportunity. The Bucks have also managed to keep much of last season's roster intact, while the additions of Robin Lopez and Kyle Korver should prove useful from the bench.
Meanwhile, back in May, the Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors for the fourth time in five years, although Steve Kerr's team has since lost Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and DeMarcus Cousins.
The mass exodus has finally rid the Rockets of their biggest nemesis, and the addition of Russell Westbrook has helped reinvigorate a franchise that has been on the verge of the NBA Finals for the past three seasons.
Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounmpo enters the new season as the NBA's reigning MVP, and at 24, the forward is entering his prime. While the Bucks have a well-rounded roster, Antetokounmpo's ability to perform on a nightly basis will be the key factor as the franchise chases a first title since 1971.
Houston Rockets - Russell Westbrook
James Harden remains Houston's best player, although Westbrook's ability to adapt alongside his former Thunder teammate will be crucial as the Rockets attempt to finally emerge from the West.
Westbrook has averaged a triple-double over the past three seasons, although he will need to improve his accuracy from beyond the arc to succeed in Mike D'Antoni's famed system.
Predicted starting lineups
Milwaukee Bucks - Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
Houston Rockets - James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House
Bucks vs Rockets match prediction
Eric Bledsoe's return from a rib injury is a significant boost for the Bucks, while Antetokounmpo is set to enjoy a big offensive night against a Houston team that has struggled defensively throughout the preseason.
Nevertheless, the Rockets have lost just 17 home games over the course of the last two seasons, and Toyota Center will feed off Westbrook's energy and drive on his debut. Ultimately, a close game beckons although the Rockets should come away with a narrow win.
Where to watch Bucks vs Rockets?
The game will be broadcast nationwide on TNT from 8:00 PM (ET). You can also live stream the game via NBA League Pass.