PREVIEW: Milwaukee Bucks put winning streak on line against Clippers

By Field Level Media
Feb 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket against New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) in the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to key an offensive surge that has led to Milwaukee’s four-game winning streak.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 35.5 points, 13.8 rebounds and six assists during the Bucks’ streak, and Milwaukee is averaging 132 points over their past three wins over the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans.

The Bucks, and the two-time league MVP, will try to keep their momentum going on Sunday when they host the Los Angeles Clippers in a matchup of two of the leading teams in their respective conferences.

“I think when you’re getting a game every single night, it’s a dogfight, you fight to win, it helps you,” Antetokounmpo said. “It helps you in the long run, we build good habits and hopefully it can help us in the playoffs.”

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973 to record three consecutive 35-plus point games when he scored 38 against New Orleans on Thursday.

Related: 50 Top NBA players of 2021 – Historical performance has Zion Williamson on the rise

Khris Middleton finished with 31 points against the Pelicans for his second 30-plus point game in the past three.

But without Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Adams due to health and safety protocols and D.J. Augustin (personal reasons), the Bucks needed more.

They got it from Donte DiVincenzo, who dropped a career-high 24 points and took a key charge in the closing seconds from Brandon Ingram to help seal the outcome.

“Without him playing the way he did tonight, we don’t win that game,” Middleton said. “I don’t think it’s even close. The plays he made down the stretch, the charge, the big shots, the extra effort plays, everything out there was great for him tonight.”

Two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard got the Clippers back on track on Friday night during a 119-99 victory at Memphis, just one night after he struggled against the Grizzlies in a 122-94 loss.

Leonard finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the Clippers had seven players score in double figures and recorded 34 assists on 44 made field goals.

Related: NBA playoff predictions – From top seeds to bracket & Finals

L.A. shot 55 percent on Friday and 40 percent from 3-point range.

Lou Williams scored 17 points and Paul George, Nicolas Batum and Terance Mann each finished with 13 points. George and Leonard’s combined 11-for-16 shooting in the first half helped the Clippers take control during a 31-17 second quarter, which they closed out on a 13-1 run.

“I thought we matched their intensity,” George said. “We looked like the fresher team tonight. I thought our pace was great, and I just thought defensively, we shrunk the floor.”

Less than 24 hours after the Clippers were decimated in the paint 72-24 by the Grizzlies, they narrowed the scoring gap to 54-50 despite Jonas Valanciunas’ 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Grizzlies also struggled from outside, shooting 9-for-28 from 3-point range.

“I thought we had great physicality in that first quarter,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “They still scored 30 points, but you can live with how they were scoring because we were aggressive. We were into them, and they had to work for everything they got.”

Patrick Patterson (personal reasons) missed his fifth consecutive game for the Clippers.

Related: NBA games today – TV schedule, best bets and fantasy picks

–Field Level Media