Coming off of a perfect homestand, the Knicks (3-1) take a three-game winning streak with them to Milwaukee to try and hand the 3-0 Bucks their first loss of the season on Friday night.
New York was able to take a Western Conference favorite to overtime on opening night in Memphis and now will try to get an early marquee win against an Eastern Conference favorite.
The Bucks are banged up at the start of the season with Khris Middleton (wrist), Pat Connaughton (calf) and Joe Ingles (knee) all out while the Knicks are healthy besides an injury that will once again keep Quentin Grimes out on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Scouting the Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the NBA so far this season with 36.0 points per game and is shooting 67.7 percent from the field. “The Greek Freak” is coming off of a 43-point, 14 rebound and five assist performance in a 110-99 win vs Brooklyn on Wednesday. He is also second in the league with 13.0 rebounds per game in the early weeks of the season.
Once again, Antetokounmpo is an early MVP candidate on a team with a point to prove after not making it to the Eastern Conference Finals as the defending champions a season ago. Speaking of a point to prove, the Bucks also come into this game only giving up 97.3 points per game. That is the best mark in the league so far this season and shows what the Bucks are capable of defensively. They are the only team in the NBA that isn’t conceding more than 100 points per game to this point.
So, with no Middleton, Connaughton and Ingles who is stepping up for the Bucks you may ask? Does the name Bobby Portis ring a bell? It should!
The former Knick is second on the Bucks with 14.7 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game so far this season. Milwaukee seems to always be able to find ways to win even with some of their bigger pieces out of the lineup. They continue to show impressive depth year in and year out and Portis is leading the way in that regard so far.
Of course, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez are huge contributors to what the Bucks like to do on both ends of the floor and will be massive factors in this game as well. Holiday is one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Meanwhile, Lopez’s ability to shoot the three makes him a very tough matchup for the Knicks frontcourt to have to deal with on the offensive end and on the glass.
George Hill, Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter are all vital role players that even when Milwaukee’s depth is tested tend to help the Bucks stay on track and through three games this season that has been the case. Plus, “fan favorite” Grayson Allen is averaging 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game to help the Bucks cause so far this season. In summation, the Bucks are really good and can turn to a lot of different players to help them win games. They are a team with championship DNA and will really test the Knicks to say the least.
This will arguably be the Knicks toughest game of the season so far and the Bucks aren’t even at full strength.
Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett are all playing well so far, but this will be a step up from the last three games the Knicks have played. To be fair, on November 5, 2021, the Knicks went to Milwaukee and erased a 21-point deficit to beat the Bucks 113-98. However, since then New York is 0-3 against the Bucks so it will take a tremendous performance to pull this one off.
With Milwaukee’s depth and star power, I’m going to pick the Bucks to win but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was proven wrong considering the form the Knicks are in right now. Let’s see if they can keep it going.
The game tips off at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. and we will have all of the coverage during and after the game right here on the site!