Preview: Brooklyn Nets Hope to End Struggles Against Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee has won its last four games at Barclays Center -- a streak Brooklyn wants to end
The Nets (19-34) host the Bucks (28-23) in an early matinee game hoping to get a bit of payback from one of their worst defeats of the season.
Just eight days ago, Brooklyn traveled to Milwaukee and suffered a 116-91 rout at the Bradley Center. The Nets had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who poured in 41 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Still, Kenny Atkinson and his players have won two of their last three games at Barclays Center – beating two teams currently in playoff hunt in Miami and Philadelphia. They will hope that momentum continues on Sunday. If the Nets win, it would be their 20th victory of the season, which would match their total from the 2016-17 campaign.
Here are Three Things to Watch for:
Key Matchup: Quincy Acy vs. Antetokounmpo
With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffering his groin strain in the last meeting between these two teams, Acy has a significant task on his hands in guarding the Greek Freak.
Antetokounmpo is second in the NBA in scoring (28.3) and leads his team in points, rebounds (10.4) and assists (4.7). Acy will start the game off on the Bucks star, but Atkinson will likely get creative in his defensive schemes and use multiple players on him. DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen and James Webb III will likely be among the options the head coach will use.
Acy’s responsibility will be simple. Frustrate Antetokounmpo early and challenge the forward on the other side of the court. If the veteran does that well, it could go a long way for the Nets on Sunday.
Can Allen’s Run Continue?
Atkinson’s decision to name Allen as the starting center three games ago has paid dividends. The rookie is averaging 16 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting an eye-popping 83 percent.
One of the biggest surprises has been Allen’s touch around the low post as he’s shown some never-before-seen movies below the rim. While his overall rebounding numbers need to improve, his play has been an encouraging development for Brooklyn.
Will Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell Play More Minutes Together?
Dinwiddie and Russell saw extended minutes on together in the fourth quarter in the Nets’ loss to the Lakers on Friday and there were some positive signs from the pairing.
Both players are skilled scorers and playmakers, but they get their points in different ways – forcing teams to figure what to do defensively when both on the floor. However, there are also issues with the partnership.
Dinwiddie and Russell both operate best with the ball in their hands and there were times where the Nets became too isolation-heavy in the fourth quarter against Los Angeles. As a result, Brooklyn’s offense became stagnant at times. Prior to Russell’s 32-game stint on the sidelines due to an injury suffered on Nov. 11, the two guards had played less than 50 minutes together on the floor. An adjustment period is expected.
Still, having the Nets’ best guards on the court together is a prospect Atkinson and his staff can’t pass up – especially considering how effective they were at times on Friday.
Probable Starter: Dinwiddie, Crabbe, Carroll, Acy, Allen
Injury Report: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (right groin strain) is OUT.