NBA Filipino Heritage Week matchup: Bucks vs Warriors
On Sunday (PHL time), the Warriors host the streaking Milwaukee Bucks in their second and last meeting of the two teams this season.
The first time these two teams played, back on November 20 in Milwaukee, the Warriors sported a 10-2 record, while Milwaukee was at 5-6. The game turned out to be a high-scoring affair with the Warriors prevailing 124-121, but not without needing a key defensive stop by Draymond Green in the last 10.1 seconds to secure the win. That victory was the Warriors’ seventh of what would turn into a 12-game win streak. It was even sweeter as it was retribution of sorts, since the Bucks were responsible for ending the Warriors’ 24-game win streak to start their historic 2015-2016 season.
The Warriors, who have just snapped out of a three-game losing skid with a grueling 106-104 win over the 76ers and then successfully followed it up with a lopsided 30-point win over the Magic, will still be without their star forward, Kevin Durant, who remains sidelined due to a knee injury, and could possibly miss the rest of the regular season. Durant top-scored for the Warriors in their last meeting with the Bucks, finishing with 33 points.
The Splash Brothers, together with Draymond Green, will have to pick up the scoring load without Durant, if they want to avoid another season split against Milwaukee, and more importantly, their sixth loss in 10 games with the Spurs breathing down their necks for the best record in the West.
Curry has been in a bit of a slump lately. He shot 8-of-23 from the field and 5-of-13 from deep against Philadelphia, and then followed it up with an 8-of-15 from the field, but 2-of-7 from three outing against Orlando. That makes him just 28 of 96 from long distance in his last nine games. However, I wouldn’t bet against the two-time MVP. It seems like just a matter of time before he turns in a breakout performance and gets back to his MVP ways.
Klay Thompson meanwhile has still been his All-Star self this season, averaging a career-best 22.1ppg, although his 3pt% has dropped ever so slightly to 40.9%, from 42.5% last season. Draymond Green too, has been making a late-season charge at the Defensive Player of the Year award, averaging 8.1rpg, 7.1apg, and career-bests in steals (2.2spg) and blocks (1.5bpg), despite an understandable dip in scoring (10.4ppg vs 14ppg last season).
The Warriors will be facing a Milwaukee Bucks team that is one the hottest in the NBA. They’ve now won 12 of their last 16 games, their last two being a sweep of LA teams the Clippers and the Lakers. This run of theirs started right before the All-Star break and has propelled them to the seventh spot in the East at 33-34, the Miami Heat (34-35) and the Detroit Pistons (33-36). However, the Bucks will be playing in Oracle on the second night of a back-to-back, after a physical win against the Lake Show.
Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to lead the Bucks in all major statistical categories, but he has had a lot of support as of late from guys like the returning Khris Middleton (15.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.6apg in 16 games since return), Malcolm Brogdon (11.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.1apg in last 10 games), Tony Snell (10.5ppg in last 10 games), Greg Monroe, and the rest of their freakishly long lineup. Their stellar play, particularly in their last 15 games, has kept their playoff chances alive, despite losing Jabari Parker to a season-ending ACL injury.
Without Durant, I see the Warriors having a tough time against the length of Milwaukee. They will need solid performances from the Splash Bros and Green, as well as steady contributionss from Iggy, Livingston, West, McCaw, Barnes, Pachulia, McGee, and the rest of their bench. After Klay’s first quarter explosion against Orlando, this Milwaukee game could be the scene of a Steph Curry I’m-still-MVP performance.
Let’s just hope Steve Kerr doesn’t use this night to rest his starters before playing OKC on Monday (PHL time) and in anticipation of a crucial four-game stretch to close out the month of March, where they play the Grizzlies-Rockets-Spurs and Rockets in a span of six days.
Catch the last remaining Filipino Heritage Week game - MIL @ GSW on Sunday at 10:30am. Check out this week's viewing guide for channel options.