Two teams coming off emotional games — with different results — will go head-to-head Tuesday night when the Golden State Warriors visit the Milwaukee Bucks for a nationally televised affair.
Coming off a 123-107 home win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night in a highly anticipated rematch of June’s NBA Finals, the Warriors will endure the difficult task of facing the team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference one game after having dealt with the top club.
The Warriors tightened the defensive screws on the Celtics, who entered the game with the league’s highest scoring attack. Even without defensive standout Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors harassed Boston star Jayson Tatum into 6-for-21 shooting as the Celtics were held to 43.7 percent overall as a team and 30 percent (12 of 40) on 3-pointers.
The impressive defensive effort wasn’t something the Warriors had put out much during a 13-13 start, coach Steve Kerr observed afterward.
“We needed a game like that,” Kerr said. “We’ve been a little bit stuck in the mud, and it feels like we’ve gotten better over the last few weeks but not a whole lot to show for it. So this was an important win for us.”
The Warriors now open a six-game Eastern swing and are still without Wiggins, who will miss a fourth straight game with a strained right adductor.
The Bucks were nearly down a key man as well, with Khris Middleton having suffered a sprained left ankle early in Sunday’s 97-92 loss at Houston. But Milwaukee listed him on Monday’s injury report as probable.
The defeat came on a night when the Rockets were inspired to win one for their coach, Stephen Silas, whose father, former NBA forward Paul Silas, had died earlier in the day. John Lucas directed the win, with Stephen Silas having left the team upon getting the news.
Lucas’ game plan was similar to what the Warriors threw at the Celtics: Limit the layups at the expense of possible 3-pointers. The Bucks shot just 36.7 percent overall, a mark dragged down by a 12-for-43 night from beyond the arc.
“They threw a lot of people in the paint,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We didn’t shoot it well enough (Sunday). We got a lot of threes up. We like that. We think that’s going to be good for us in the long run. But (in this game) we weren’t able to make enough threes to take away their willingness to put multiple bodies in the paint.”
Defense was the key when the clubs split two games, each winning at home, in last year’s season series. The Bucks held the Warriors to 34.7 percent shooting in a 19-point home win, then were held to just 41.3 percent accuracy in a 13-point defeat in San Francisco.
Tuesday’s game features an intriguing matchup of Bucks standout Giannis Antetokounmpo against Warriors defensive ace Draymond Green.
Green has gotten the better of his rival in 10 lifetime head-to-heads, holding Antetokounmpo to an average 18.4 points, benefitting from the two-time MVP’s 22.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Green has countered with 13.2 points per game as well as an advantage in rebounds (7.2-7.0), assists (5.8-4.4) and steals (1.7-1.3). The Warriors have won seven of those 10 games.
Green appeared on the Warriors’ injury report Monday as probable with a left ankle sprain.
–Field Level Media