Two days ago, the Milwaukee Bucks struggled shooting the ball from the field and were in a dogfight with the winless Philadelphia 76ers, who were desperate for their first victory. Highly-touted rookie phenom Jahlil Okafor was on his way to 21 points and Nerlens Noel had a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds, but most importantly, they had Milwaukee on the ropes as they held an 83-80 advantage with 2:55 remaining. The Bucks, who want to be seen as contenders in the Eastern Conference and duplicate another playoff run, definitely did not want to be 1-4 with a loss to one of the worst teams on its record.
As ugly as it was to watch at times, the Bucks prevailed against the 76ers as Greg Monroe and Khris Middleton combined for the final 11 Milwaukee points to seal the win. Middleton led Milwaukee (2-3) with 21 points, and Monroe contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Jabari Parker also made his season debut after his ACL tear last December, but his jumper looked a little rusty as he went 1 of 6 for just two points.
Meanwhile, the Knicks came out swinging against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, outscoring them 32-18 in the opening period, but after that outburst, they only scored 54 points the rest of the game en route to a 96-86 loss. They were also clearly outhustled in numerous ways from being out-rebounded, 48-40, to having a 24-0 disadvantage on fast break points. Despite going just 9 of 23, James led the way with 23 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter when the Cavs outscored the Knicks, 26-17. Carmelo Anthony had a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards but also had trouble shooting the ball, going 6 for 18.
Both New York and Milwaukee met each other last week to open the season, and the Knicks pummeled the Bucks, 122-97, as every Knick suited up scored, seven of them in double figures, including a game-high 24 points from Derrick Williams. In fact, the Knicks bench outscored the Bucks an incredible, 73-32. Second-year swingman Langston Galloway and rookie Kristap Porzingis added 16 points apiece for New York while center Monroe paced Milwaukee with 22 points and 14 boards.
Though the loss was just a week ago, the complexion of the team will be different on Friday as Giannis Antetokounmpo will be starting after serving a one-game suspension in the opener for a flagrant foul on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in last season’s playoffs against the Chicago Bulls. With his length and athleticism, Antetokounmpo could make things tough for Anthony and will be a fun matchup to watch as both forwards lead their respective teams in scoring at just above 21 points apiece.
Parker will also be in the starting lineup but how effective he will be remains to be seen as his minutes will probably be limited though he will look to contribute more than just two points.
As far as injuries are concerned, New York guard Arron Afflalo, who has yet to play this season after suffering a hamstring injury early in October, could make his debut Friday against the Bucks.
Milwaukee’s Michael Carter-Williams is doubtful for Friday’s game due to a left ankle sprain he suffered on Monday against Brooklyn while John Henson and O.J. Mayo are also doubtful.
The game will be start at 7:30 P.M. EST.