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NBA 2018-19 Predictions:  Milwaukee Bucks vs Memphis Grizzlies

Jason Mills
ANALYST
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773   //    Timeless

Image result for Giannis antetokounmpo vs. Marc Gasol

On January 16th, 2019 at an 8 pm eastern start, the Memphis Grizzlies will play the Milwaukee Bucks in Memphis. This contest matches two teams headed in opposite directions. 

The Grizzlies are the team with the second-worst record in the Western Conference with a record of 19-24 and are 2-8 in their last ten games having lost two in a row. The Milwaukee Bucks are the second best team in the Eastern Conference with a record of 30-12. The Bucks are poised for a potential deep playoff run and the Grizzlies are dreaming about drafting Zion Williamson of Duke at the NBA Draft.  

Expectations

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three
San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three

In considering that the Grizzlies are sub .500 on the season, they are a tough defensive team. They only allow about 102 ppg. They do hold opponents to 36.6% from the three-point arc but allow mid-range shots at nearly 50%.

The Bucks shoot 47.9% from the field and are the fourth-best shooting team in the NBA in terms of field goal percentage. It is expected that Memphis will try to hound and harass the Bucks into bad shots. However, if this is their strategy, the Grizzlies better gang rebound because they are the worst rebounding team in the league. 

While the Bucks average over 26 assists per game, the Grizzlies average 8.6 steals a game. Therefore, expect that the Grizzlies will be aggressive defensively disrupting passing lanes. The Bucks will want to take extra care of the ball. 

One advantage the Bucks will have besides offensive potency is that they are an elite rebounding team and the Grizzlies are not. the Grizzlies are the league’s worst rebounding team. 

The Bucks average 49 rebounds a game and almost 10 of them, are offensive. If the Grizzlies are successful in forcing Milwaukee to miss shots, they must gang rebound or expect Milwaukee to rack up 2nd chance points. At the offensive end, when the Grizzlies miss shots they must hustle back in transition to avoid fast break opportunities for the Bucks. Expect the Grizzlies to try and grind this game out and force Milwaukee into half-court sets.

The Milwaukee Bucks are a high scoring team at 117 ppg. The Bucks also average 38.4 three-point attempts per game but are only shooting the three at 34.7%. The Bucks have made 560 threes for most in the NBA coming into play Tuesday night. The high three-point shooting bodes well for the Grizzlies defense if they can keep the Bucks on the perimeter and contest those shots.  

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Another expectation for this game, at the defensive end, for both teams are blocked shots. Memphis are second in the NBA at 6 blocks per game and Milwaukee are fourth also averaging 6 blocks. Expect Interior defense to be stingy in this contest.

The Grizzlies do not dominate at home as they are only 11-9 at home while the Bucks have a winning record on the road at 11-8. The Grizzlies don't really have a homecourt advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo likes to attack the basket and won’t shoot a lot of threes. He will be a handful for the Grizzlies to shut down. 

The Bucks are averaging 118ppg over their last three games. The Grizzlies have scored just an average of 99ppg in their last three matches and given up 103 ppg over the same period. With the Grizzlies limited offense and only 2-8 in their last 10 games, one can expect a tough defensive game but the Bucks will have the edge offensively.


Key Players

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks have gotten an MVP like performance out of star Giannis Antetokounmpo game in and game out. In the last three games he has played, going into play Tuesday night he’s averaging 30 ppg. 

He is also averaging 12.3 rpg especially after a herculean effort on the glass against Houston in a winning effort on January 9th, 2019. Khris Middleton is averaging 19ppg over his last three games including 25 points in a loss to Washington on January 11th, 2019. Middleton is also a solid defender for the Bucks.

Mike Conley is averaging 20ppg for the Grizzlies this season and 6.3apg but he is only shooting at 41.9% from the field. Marc Gasol who hurt his hand Monday night is currently listed as day-day. He could play Wednesday night. However, at age 33, Marc Gasol is showing signs of decline. His scoring average is slightly depressed this season at 15.4ppg almost 2 points less than a year ago. 

His field goal percentage which has been in decline for each of the past 4 seasons is slightly higher than last year at 44%. Gasol’s field goal attempts are down to 12.6 attempts per game but he is shooting the three-pointer at a respectable 36%. Gasol is averaging 15.3ppg over his last three games including just 5 points in a loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

Prediction

The Milwaukee Bucks are laser-focused on trying to keep pace with the Toronto Raptors who lead the Eastern Conference. The Bucks also have too many weapons for the Grizzlies to keep pace and the Bucks are just a much more potent team offensively. 

Considering the Grizzlies also do not have a superior record at home, they will lose this game. The Bucks may be slowed by Memphis’ tough defense. Expect a 110-95 victory for the Milwaukee Bucks based on recent trends. The Bucks will face the Grizzlies on the back end of a back-back after a Tuesday night contest against the Miami Heat.











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