The Milwaukee Bucks continue a four-game road swing on Sunday, visiting the recently struggling New York Knicks.
New York ended a three-game road trip on Friday with a 90-87 loss to Toronto, the Knicks’ fifth defeat in their past six games. Just two of New York’s starters, RJ Barrett with 19 points and Julius Randle with 13, scored in double figures against the Raptors.
The Knicks shot 35.8 percent from the floor, continuing a season-long struggle to find offensive consistency. New York entered Saturday’s play ranked No. 24 in the NBA at 43.9 percent shooting from the floor on the season.
Obi Toppin gave the Knicks a spark off the bench in Friday’s loss, matching Barrett with a team-high 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Both were career highs for the second-year forward.
“He’s always been a confident guy. There’s still a long way to go, but his progress has been steady,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said in his postgame press conference. “If he plays well, he plays more. It’s that simple.”
Milwaukee comes into New York for what is the third game of its four-game road trip. The Bucks rebounded from a 113-104 loss on Wednesday in Miami with a 123-114 win at Houston on Friday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo went for 41 points on 15-of-19 shooting from the floor and had 17 rebounds in Friday’s contest. His highest point total since scoring 47 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 17 came one game after Antetokounmpo matched his second-lowest scoring total of the season, 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting at Miami.
Milwaukee also got 21 points from Khris Middleton in Friday’s win, his sixth consecutive game scoring at least 20 points. Middleton hit nine combined 3-pointers in the Bucks’ past two outings.
“They’re great players. Khris hit some shots, including some (3-pointers) and those are even more powerful,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said in his postgame press conference. “When you have a good team and have players like that, you’re fortunate to put the ball in their hands and let them make plays.”
The two-time Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo and two-time All-Star Middleton lead Milwaukee at 27.6 and 18.2 points per game, respectively. New York did not see Middleton in either of the first two meetings with Milwaukee this season, which the teams split.
The Knicks held Antetokounmpo below his season average in both matchups, with 25 points in a 113-98 New York win on Nov. 5, and 15 points in a 112-100 Bucks win on Nov. 10.
Randle scored 32 points in the Knicks win, but half that in the loss on a night that he was the only New York starter to score in double figures.
Randle leads the Knicks this season with 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Both Milwaukee and New York come into their third meeting ranked in the league’s top eight for 3-point shooting. The Bucks are connecting on 36.2 percent of attempts, and the Knicks are at 36.0 percent.
–Field Level Media