The New Orleans Pelicans travel to Wisconsin to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday at Fiserv Forum. Winners of two straight games, the Pelicans won their last two home games after dropping the first two of a 2020-21 NBA season four-game homestand.
After a five-game losing streak, the Milwaukee Bucks have recovered and have now won three straight including a 139-112 blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a near triple-double with 37 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Fixture - New Orleans Pelicans vs Milwaukee Bucks | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Thursday, February 25th, 9:30 PM ET (Friday, February 26th, 8:00 AM IST)
Venue - Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
After trailing for most of the game against the Detroit Pistons, the New Orleans Pelicans put the pedal to the metal and took over in the fourth quarter. The Pelicans won 128-118 behind 32 points from Zion Williamson and 27 from Brandon Ingram. It was their second straight win with the first coming from a thrilling 120-115 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
As they try to derail the Milwaukee Bucks, the New Orleans Pelicans need to do extra work on their defense to stop a well-oiled machine that has terrorized the East the last two years.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
As the season progresses, the New Orleans Pelicans are learning more about the talent that they have and how to use him. It’s a learning process but the Pelicans are gradually utilizing Zion Williamson in various ways in their offense. Lately, Williamson is being used as a ballhandler in pick-and-roll situations and the results have been promising.
According to Hoops Hype’s Bryan Kalbrosky, Williamson “is averaging 1.17 points per possession as the ball handler in pick-and-roll sets, per Synergy, which currently ranks fourth-best (minimum: 40 possessions) in the NBA.”
If the New Orleans Pelicans can maximize Williamson’s other strengths aside from his more obvious physical gifts, they could open up the offense more and give them more options to work with especially when going up against the Milwaukee Bucks.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
G Lonzo Ball G Eric Bledsoe F Brandon Ingram F Zion Williamson C Steven Adams
Milwaukee Bucks Preview
This is not the same Milwaukee Bucks team that we saw the past two seasons. Not only do they have a number of new players, but teams have also figured out how to exploit their defensive schemes. This has forced coach Mike Budenholzer to adjust by switching more screens. The changes, though painfully slow, have resulted in some successes and the three-game winning streak is a good sign.
But it remains to be seen if the Bucks can continue to improve with the second half of the season almost upon us. With the New Orleans Pelicans game ahead, the Milwaukee Bucks will have to be content with continuing to practice their new systems while facing a talented but very young team.
Key Player - Giannis Antetokounmpo
As the Milwaukee Bucks are no longer lording it over the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokounmpo is not receiving serious MVP considerations. Despite this, the back-to-back MVP is putting up similar, and sometimes better, numbers from his first season winning the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. After an excellent last few games, Antetokounmpo should be climbing up the MVP ladder.
On Thursday, he will be matched up against Zion Williamson, who is a beast in the paint. It will be a huge challenge for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year to put the clamps down on the New Orleans Pelicans’ leading scorer. Antetokounmpo will need his guile and wits to win this battle.
Milwaukee Bucks Predicted Lineup
G D.J. Augustin G Donte DiVincenzo F Khris Middleton F Giannis Antetokounmpo C Brook Lopez
Pelicans vs Bucks Match Prediction
When the New Orleans Pelicans face the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, they will have to be sharper and quicker during switches and closeouts. If the Pelicans had difficulty stopping the Pistons through almost three quarters of play, what are the chances that they’ll be able to stop a Milwaukee Bucks team that’s averaging 121.7 points per game the past three games?
The New Orleans Pelicans own the league’s third-worst defensive rating (115.6) while the Milwaukee Bucks have the second-best offensive rating in the league (117.8). That’s a recipe for disaster right there.
Any team can be beaten and basketball is a game of matchups and mismatches. But it’s difficult to imagine the New Orleans Pelicans winning against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are playing at home for the sixth straight contest, without something new to offer defensively.
Where to Watch Pelicans vs Bucks?
The New Orleans Pelicans vs Milwaukee Bucks game will be televised nationally by TNT and locally by FOX Sports New Orleans and FOX Sports Wisconsin. International audiences can catch the game live on NBA League Pass.