The Milwaukee Bucks hope a date with the Orlando Magic will be just what the doctor ordered to nurse them back to health.
The ailing Bucks will bid to snap a three-game losing streak on Sunday night when they host the Magic in the opener of a three-game trek. Milwaukee has won its past five regular-season meetings vs. Orlando, including 121-99 on Jan. 11.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 22 points in that contest, joined the rest of the Bucks’ traditional starters in taking a seat in the team’s 127-119 setback to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.
For Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game and for the sixth time in the past 11 contests. The two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player was joined by Jrue Holiday (bruised left knee), Khris Middleton (sore right knee), Donte DiVincenzo (bruised right hip), Brook Lopez (sore back) and reserve forward P.J. Tucker (strained left calf).
“We’ll see how they feel over the next day or two,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “I think we’re hopeful, with maybe P.J. being the exception, that these guys could all be on the shorter end of it. But Giannis has missed several games, so we’ve got to see how he feels. These guys are a little banged up.”
Rookie Jordan Nwora has stepped up in games in which Milwaukee was without several traditional starters. Nwora had 21 points in Milwaukee’s 102-96 loss to the New York Knicks on March 27 and recorded a season-best 24 on Friday.
“The thing that stands out is just (Nwora’s) ability to shoot, so I think hopefully when you’re in the rotation and maybe playing with Jrue and Giannis and Khris and those guys, and they’re creating a double team or a rotation and help, his ability to just knock down shots (is key),” Budenholzer said.
As for the reeling Magic, they are mired in a four-game losing streak and have dropped 17 of their past 21 games.
Orlando’s Terrence Ross has provided a spark by coming off the bench to score a team-high 24 points in back-to-back contests.
“It’s what he’s done for three years here,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said of Ross, who made 10 of 15 shots from the floor in a 111-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday. “As you guys know, there’s been so many times when we’ve struggled, and he’s kept us within shouting distance and gave us a chance to win at the end.”
James Ennis III and Mo Bamba each had 14 points for the Magic, who struggled to find any shooting rhythm from 3-point range (6-of-24, 25 percent).
Orlando also is tinkering with its defensive groupings; however, the team’s chemistry has been slow to build. The Magic have yielded at least 110 points in each of their past five games.
“I think it’s just having the new guys kind of learn our tendencies and learn our principles,” Ross said.
–Field Level Media