Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks game preview
Although they have a comfortable hold on sixth place in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks certainly aren’t getting the results of a team destined for the postseason.
With O.J. Mayo likely a game-time decision, Milwaukee hopes to avoid its eighth loss in 10 games Wednesday night when it takes on a Orlando Magic team mired in an eight-game road losing streak.
Following a 9-1 stretch during which they ended a 17-game skid in Orlando with a 115-100 win Jan. 29, the Bucks dropped six of seven and a season-high four in a row before starting their brief stay at Bradley Center.
Milwaukee pulled out a 91-85 win over Washington on Saturday, before suffering only its second loss in 11 home games when New Orleans’ Anthony Davis torched them for 43 points in Monday’s 114-103 defeat.
The offensively challenged Bucks were let down by their defense against the Pelicans as they shot 52.1 percent after averaging 91.0 points with a 43.1 field-goal percentage over their prior six losses.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a career-high 29 points, while Michael Carter-Williams contributed 25 for his highest-scoring game for Milwaukee since being acquired last month in a trade-deadline deal.
The Bucks, though, let New Orleans make 58.7 percent from the field after they entered the contest ranked among the league leaders in scoring defense (96.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage (43.2).
Still, Kidd is optimistic with his club four games up on seventh-place Indiana and 2 1/2 behind fifth-place Washington.
"We’ve got to do the little things like knocking down free throws and (not) turning the ball over at the wrong times," he said. "So we’re a young team and this is a good experience. We felt like we got better even though we lost."
The Bucks could get a lift with the return of Mayo after he missed six of the last seven games due to a hamstring injury. The shooting guard had averaged 14.6 points over a five-game stretch before getting sidelined.
Milwaukee (33-30) will try to get back on track with its fifth straight home win over Southeast Division-worst Orlando (21-44), which hasn’t won on the road since a 121-114 victory at Chicago on Jan. 12.
The Magic shot just 37.0 percent from the field and 4 for 17 from 3-point range while allowing Indiana to hit 17 of 34 from beyond the arc in Tuesday’s 118-86 road loss that snapped a two-game winning streak.
"There were too many times where guys were going right past us," forward Tobias Harris said. "That definitely hurt us."
Harris, a former Buck, finished with a team-high 22 points, but Victor Oladipo scored 13 on 4-of-12 shooting after he had averaged 30.7 per game with a 55.4 field-goal percentage over his previous three.
Harris had 26 points and Orlando went 10 for 24 from 3-point range in a 101-85 home win over the Bucks on Nov. 14. Harris, however, had seven points on 2-of-12 shooting and the Magic missed 13 of 18 from beyond the arc in the January loss.
Nikola Vucevic has totaled 35 points and 23 rebounds to help Orlando hold a 94-76 edge on the glass in the series. He returned Tuesday after missing two games with an ankle injury, finishing with 13 points and five boards.