When: 7:00 pm
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM
Off the heels of Devin Booker calling bank to end a five-game losing skid, the Suns will play host to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks tonight. Milwaukee captured the hearts of the dedicated NBA fan earlier this season when each night felt like a track meet and Giannis and his friends (namely Jabari Parker) would end one in every four possessions with an athletic display that would make peak LeBron James and Dwyane Wade blush.
Times have grown tough for the young Bucks since then, losing nine out of their last ten games, including being Jokic’d last night in Denver. It is difficult to pinpoint why things have shifted so drastically for a team that appeared to be staking its claim to at least making things interesting in a playoff series against a formidable Eastern Conference foe.
You could point to the defense; for all of their freaky length, the Bucks struggle to stay in their lane consistently, causing missteps when it comes to their rotations. And one misstep can be death in the NBA where the best scorers only need the slimmest of slivers to wreak havoc. The Suns should look to exploit the Bucks’ over-pursuit by leveraging every piece of hardwood with their motion offense.
Misdirection actions should work wonders, and if Eric Bledsoe is able to sneak by Matthew Dellavedova without the assistance of a screen, there will be plenty of drive-and-kick opportunities.
Despite their struggles the Bucks are more than capable of playing within the fast-paced setting that Phoenix attempts to employ themselves. I would expect a flurry of fastbreak points, easy baskets by way of lead ball-handlers aggressively pushing the ball off of misses, and a bunch of free throws.
The key to the game for the Suns will be limiting Milwaukee’s ability to get easy baskets and to force them out of the lane. The Bucks have a handful of shooters — will the immortal Jason Terry please stand up? -- but that is not how they win games. Parker and Giannis look to pound the rock towards the whole to either finish for themselves or set up open looks for their teammates. Stifling dribble penetration is easier said than done against both of those aliens, but it should be a point of emphasis.
Both teams will be playing on the second night of a back to back, so the energy levels could have an impact on the outcome. Let’s roll.