Photo: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks as the team looks to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin – BMO Harris Bradley Center
When: 6 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment – Altitude Sports Radio KKSE 950 AM
The Nuggets schedule over the last month has been far from easy, but you wouldn’t know that from the results. After going 8-3 in their last 11 games, the Nuggets have had strong victories over teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and the San Antonio Spurs. The schedule doesn’t get any easier in the teams last game before the break as the Bucks currently sit at fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 32-24. The Bucks are 9-2 in their last 11 games and have played hard for interim head coach Joe Prunty after the team fired Jason Kidd just a couple weeks ago.
The biggest challenge the Nuggets will face against the Bucks is the task of trying to stop the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Antetokounmpo is averaging over 18 shots per game and gets most of his shots within the three-point line, as he’s only attempting one three-point shot per game. Antetokounmpo is shooting 53.7 percent from the field and gets plenty of his points with thunderous dunks at the rim.
.@Giannis_An34 might have just thrown down the dunk of the year…
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 7, 2018
The Bucks also have some other contributors on the offensive end of the court that could present problems for the Nuggets. Khris Middleton is second on the team averaging 20 points per game, while also averaging over four rebounds and four assists per game. Unlike Antetokounmpo, Middleton gets a lot of his points from behind the arc as he’s attempting over five threes per game and is averaging 34 percent from distance. Another player whose been fantastic for the Bucks this season is Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was acquired earlier this season in a trade with the Suns and is currently averaging 17.1 points and 4.5 assists per game.
The Nuggets will be looking for their third straight win and their sixth victory in their last seven games. A victory over he Bucks would send the Nuggets into the week long break on a high note and could be a good spark for a team whose schedule gets even tougher after the All-Star break. The Nuggets will open with the Spurs and Rockets out of the All-Star break, and then will have to play the Cleveland Cavaliers two times in the first week of March. With the Western Conference playoff race tighter than ever, the Nuggets sit at seventh in the conference with a record of 31-26 and are vying to move up in the standings with a victory on Thursday night.
Gary Harris still leads the Nuggets in points per game at 17.3 and continues to be the teams leader in steals per game with 1.8. Harris will have some tough defensive matchups against the Bucks as he’ll have to try and slow down both Middleton and Bledsoe. Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic is coming of his fourth triple-double of the season and is averaging 16.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. The Bucks don’t have the biggest front court as Thon Maker is the teams starting center, so look for Jokic to have another strong game on Thursday night for the Nuggets.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage of the Nuggets and Bucks.