Giannis Antetokounmpo and co. surged past the Portland Trail Blazers in their first meeting of the season with a 134-106 game-time decision. Damian Lillard had a slow outing in that game, as he only managed to add 19 points for his efforts.
Fast forward to April, and the Portland Trail Blazers are taking the Western Conference by storm, winning four straight games ahead of this contest.
Terry Stotts' side remain tied for the fifth-best record (29-18) in the West, along with the Denver Nuggets. The competition in the West is neck to neck at the moment, with both the Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers only 0.5 games behind the reigning champs, the LA Lakers.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks snapped their three-game losing streak with a rout of the LA Lakers in their previous matchup. Giannis Antetokounmpo sizzled with a 25-point performance while also adding 10 rebounds to his total en route to the Bucks' 30th victory of the campaign.
As a result, the Milwaukee Bucks are holding steady at third place in the East with a 30-17 record.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Prediction
The Milwaukee Bucks cruised to victory against their counterparts in their first clash of the season but will face a new-look Portland Trail Blazers squad this time around.
Norman Powell has proven to be an instant impact maker for his new team, providing a spark with his efficient scoring as a starter.
Dame Dolla, aka Damian Lillard, continues to impress with stellar performances. He is coming off a brilliant 33-point outing in the win against the Pistons and will be hungry to settle the score with the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
On the other end, Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks will be beaming with confidence after defeating the Purple and Gold in their previous matchup.
Coach Mike Budenholzer will fancy his side's chances of repeating the magic from Wednesday as they take on another top-tier team in the West in this matchup. Jrue Holiday is coming off an impressive 28-point outing and could help his side take the win on the road if he can keep scoring the ball at a high level.
However, the outcome of this contest will be decided by a power-packed battle between Giannis and Lillard. Both players are at the top of their game, and the winner of their duel could easily bring home the win for their side.
On that note, we predict that the Portland Trail Blazers will emerge victorious over the Milwaukee Bucks at home.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Combined 5
Point Guard - Damian Lillard l Shooting Guard - CJ McCollum l Small Forward - Khris Middleton l Power Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo l Center - Jusuf Nurkic
In this piece, we will take a look at the hypothetical combined 5 for the game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers. Both teams are playing at near full strength. As a result, their combined 5 lineup boasts several All-Star-caliber players, along with two MVP candidates in Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Damian Lillard will join our list at the point guard position. He has an impressive resume for the current season, registering several games where he tallied above 40 points. Lillard also dropped a 50 point outing against the New Orleans Pelicans in March.
The six-time All-Star is also a frontrunner for the scoring title this season, as he is averaging 29.8 points on 44.7% shooting from the field in 45 games for the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard has made a reputation for himself as one of the best close-out artists in the game, with his late-game heroics aptly titled 'Dame Time.' Lillard is a special talent, the likes of which come around once in a generation.
CJ McCollum will join his Portland Trail Blazers partner Damian Lillard in the back-court. McCollum had virtually picked things right where he left them before getting sidelined due to a wrist injury.
In his comeback to action, CJ has done a phenomenal job carrying the load offensively. He has scored above 20 points in his last five appearances and even produced a 35-point outing against the Miami Heat recently. McCollum remains vital to the Portland Trail Blazers' title-chasing dreams in the postseason and is looking primed to help them reach new heights this campaign.
Khris Middleton is one of the best at the mid-range game. He has made a living off the high percentage shot and is having another great year for the Milwaukee Bucks this season.
Middleton has solidified his place as the second scoring option behind Giannis while also chipping in on the defensive end with an average of six rebounds and one steal per contest.
The ninth-year guard has only missed one game for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, clocking 46 appearances thus far. Middleton is averaging 20.3 points per contest on a stellar 49.1% shooting display from the field and an impressive 43.6% shooting accuracy from the deep.
Joining our hypothetical combined 5 at the power forward position is the reigning league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is the engine that powers the Milwaukee Bucks. He has strived hard to keep his the Milwaukee Bucks within the East's top four teams with his MVP-caliber performances.
While Giannis and crew did not perform well in the 2020 playoffs, they could take the next steps this time around with some new talent in the form of Jrue Holiday and veteran PJ Tucker.
Giannis remains the centerpiece of this unit, as he looks to finish off the season on a strong note to give his side an advantage with a higher seeding. In 44 games for the Milwaukee Bucks this season, Giannis is averaging a stellar 28.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 6.3 assists on a terrific 55.7% shooting accuracy from the field.
Jusuf Nurkic will complete our list as he features at the center position. Like CJ McCollum, Nurkic was sidelined due to an injury for a good chunk of the 2020-21 season. He recently made his comeback to the NBA hardwood and resumed his role as the primary center for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Nurkic's injury has caused a substantial decrease in his overall production from the floor. That said, Nurkic has the talent to make an impact on the Trail Blazers squad in the coming weeks. In 15 appearances this campaign, Nurkic has averaged 9.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists on 49.2% shooting from the field.