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Shorthanded Nets face tall task against Bucks

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Milwaukee Bucks v Houston Rockets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

That was needed. After a catastrophic debut in the “bubble,” the Brooklyn Nets came back with a much better showing the second time around against the Washington Wizards. That was their first win of the “bubble.” Get em where you can.

The opponent today will be the Milwaukee Bucks. As the current favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference, all eyes are on the Bucks as they fine tune things for the playoffs. They lost an intense Sunday night showdown against James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and WFAN 101.9 FM for the locals; NBATV for the out of towners. Day party here so we getting started at 1:30 PM.

Injuries

In addition to the names that aren't in the bubble, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen will not be suiting up today. Dios mío! Jamal Crawford is finally available. He will play a “short stint” of minutes as he works his way into optimal conditioning, according to Jacque Vaughn.

Wesley Matthews is out with a sore calf. Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton are likely out as well.

The game

This is the first of a back-to-back for Brooklyn. They’ve got the Boston Celtics tomorrow night, who will also be on the second night of a back-to-back.

It’s always a treat to see our old friends prospering. Brook Lopez is a rim protecting, occasionally low post scoring, three point shooting phenomenon and is a key part of the Bucks’ title chances this Fall (or Summer?). He played a really good game against the Rockets and with Allen out, is in line to dominate his former team. Rodinis Kurucs has been working at the five and is in line to get the start today.

So, who guards the reigning MVP? Giannis Antetokounmpo is as good as ever and is the odds on favorite to keep the MVP in his house (and probably bring home Defensive Player of the Year, too). His shooting is going to be key to any chances the Bucks have against teams like Toronto, so Giannis becoming halfway decent from three point range is a must. He’s shooting 30 percent from three and 63 percent from the foul line, so there’s definite room for improvement. After an intense game like Sunday’s was and with the Bucks’ tendency to blow teams out, Giannis probably won’t be out there too long.

Player to watch: Khris Middleton

Generally speaking, championship caliber teams need two players that can get their own shot. Giannis is guy number one, and Middleton has moved up to guy number two. He’s putting together the best season of his career and is knocking on the door of the 50-40-90 club.

I think Garrett Temple will get a good amount of playing time over the next two days. He made note of what to expect based on the Bucks’ strategy against Houston:

“They give up a lot of threes so we’re gonna make sure we’re ready, be ready to shoot it. They pack the paint so we’ve gotta be strong with the ball when they do drive. And obviously defensively we’ve gotta know who the focal point is and we know what type of defense we want to play on him and the people around him.”

It’s gonna be a challenge, but stranger things have happened.

From the Vault

Can’t really think of anything, so here’s LL Cool J. That’ll do

More reading: Brew Hoop