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NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction - Milwaukee Bucks vs San Antonio Spurs

Jason Mills
ANALYST
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858   //    10 Mar 2019, 00:00 IST

Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns
Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns

The Milwaukee Bucks will battle on the hardwood floor in San Antonio with the San Antonio Spurs at 8 pm, on Sunday, March 10th, 2019. While both of these teams appear playoff bound, the Milwaukee Bucks hold a much more secure grasp of their own destiny. 

The Bucks, led by potential 2019 NBA MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo are first overall in the Eastern Conference at 49-16 going into play Saturday night when they face the Charlotte Bobcats. The Spurs led by DeMar DeRozan are holding down the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference at 37-29 4 ½ games ahead of the Sacramento Kings. If the playoffs started today, the Bucks would face the Miami Heat and the Spurs would be in the tough situation of facing off against the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

The San Antonio Spurs are 5-5 in their last 10 games but have also won 4 straight games. The Spurs also play their best basketball at home. They are 25-7 in the 2018-19 season playing at the AT&T Center. They have won 3 of their last four games at home including a 120-117 loss to the Toronto Raptors on February 22nd, 2019. 

As for the Milwaukee Bucks, they have amassed the NBA’s best record on the strength of 49 wins going into play Saturday, March 9th, 2019. The Bucks have accumulated 23 road wins. The Bucks are also 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Bucks are a team that gives head coach Mike Budenholzer choices with their depth.

They got even more potent when earlier last week they added former Spurs backup C/PF Pau Gasol. At age 38, Gasol has Championship experience from his time as a Los Angeles Laker but was bought out March 1st, 2019 by the Spurs.

 In their last 4 game road trip out West, the Bucks were 2-2 winning by 1 point over the Sacramento Kings in a high scoring 141-140 final. They then beat the Lakers 131-120 on March 1st, 2019 but fell to the Jazz by four the next night and lost by nine points to the Suns on March 4th, 2019.

Expected Starting Line Ups

Milwaukee Bucks Starting Line Up:

Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns
Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns

Provided the Bucks are able to avoid the injury bug against the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night Mike Budenholzer will most likely start Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon as his guards. The Bucks will start Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo as their forwards and Brook Lopez will be the starting center.

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San Antonio Spurs Starting Line Up:

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks
San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks

Head coach Greg Popovich will most likely counter the Bucks starters with Derrick White and Bryn Forbes with DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay at the forward spots. LaMarcus Aldridge will be the center.


Match Expectations, Results and why

DeMar DeRozan will be leaned upon heavily to capture a home victory for the Spurs. DeRozan is a primary scoring threat for the Spurs averaging 21.4 ppg but Greg Popovich has relied on DeRozan as a ball handler and a distributor as well. While DeRozan has upped his assists per game 6.1 this season (the highest of his career) he is averaging 2.7 turnovers per game. 

The need for it is not by choice but by necessity. With Tony Parker now in Charlotte and his heir apparent DeJounte Murray out for the season DeRozan has expanded his offensive role. 

However, the February 22nd, 2019 loss at home to the Raptors was a prime example of why DeRozan should not be a primary distributor or ball handler. The game was lost on a play late with DeRozan trying to protect the ball and advance it past the timeline. He was moving at a snail's pace with Kawhi Leonard and then Kyle Lowry trapping him near the sideline. This resulted in a turnover and a lead change favoring the Raptors with less than 20 seconds to play. 

While DeRozan needed help on that play and no teammate made themselves available to receive a pass and then give it back to DeRozan after he passed the timeline, Derozan’s strength is not running the offense. Popovich needs to devise some way to get the ball in DeRozan’s hands where he can make quick decisions to attack, shoot or make quick passes to open teammates. 

The Spurs also do not help themselves by giving up as many turnovers as their opponents at 12.4 per game. With that said the Spurs do move the basketball fairly well averaging 24.4 assists per game as a team. Other areas to watch for is their long-range shooting. 

The Spurs average 25 three-point shots per game which isn’t extreme but they make 39.9% of the time. Currently, players like Bertans, Cunningham, Gay, and Forbes shoot over 40% from the 3 point arc for the Spurs while Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli shoot over 37% from long range. The Spurs will take and make three-pointers so the Bucks will need to defend the perimeter. 

The Spurs also battle their opponents even on the backboards giving up and grabbing 44 rebounds per game. The Bucks do have a lot of length with Lopez, Antetekoumnpo, and now Pau Gasol but the Spurs have a strong rebounding frontcourt with Aldridge averaging 8.9 per game and both Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan both over 6 rebounds per game.

The Milwaukee Bucks are a deep team and can put up points in a hurry. They are led by Giannis Antetokounmpo who along with James Harden should be the conversation about the NBA MVP award for 2019. Antetokounmpo attacks the basket mercilessly. While his one weakness has been long-range shooting, Antetokounmpo has been improving that area of his game. He averages 27.1 ppg and he has raised his 3 points shooting to 24% from 11.5% earlier in the season. 

This contest will feature a fair amount of long-range bombing as the Bucks make up for a lower average than the Spurs by taking nearly 38 three-pointers per game. Just like the Spurs, the Bucks move the ball well during games averaging 26 assists per game. However, just like the Spurs, the distribution and ball decisions are made by the star player leading to turnovers. 

Antetokounmpo averages 6 assists per game but turns the ball over at an average of 3.9 per game. Both teams will need to take care of the ball and supply their star player with give and go passing options to eliminate mistakes. 

The Bucks also do a great job of supplying their Star, Antetokoumnpo with scoring support. There are five other Bucks including Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon averaging double-digit scoring. 

Based on recent trends and taking into account the Spurs dominance at home, they find themselves facing a tough test in the Milwaukee Bucks. The Spurs will be helped by the Bucks expending energy having to play the Hornets Saturday night but the Bucks are also a strong road team and have team depth to overcome fatigue. The expectation is the Bucks will win a close contest in San Antonio.



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