DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 22 points and 14.5 rebounds over his last two games.
The Sacramento Kings (21-39) and the Milwaukee Bucks (12-47)
What are they playing?
Basketball, NBA basketball.
Where are they playing?
BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
When are they playing?
Wednesday, March 5 – 7:00 PM CT
What’s the line?
Kings by three. Sounds about right.
What happened in the Bucks’ last game?
Glad you asked. Milwaukee took the Jazz behind the proverbial woodshed, blowing out Utah 114-88. Ersan Ilyasova scored 31 points, and Jeff Adrien hauled in 11 boards off the bench.
What’s at stake?
Milwaukee’s first winning streak of the season. So far, they’re 0-for-12 in this situation, but a struggling Sacramento team could be the best opportunity yet. Fingers crossed, it’s been nearly an entire calendar year.
Who’s their best player?
DeMarcus Cousins. The mercurial big man, who recently served a one-game suspension for punching Houston’s Partick Beverley, is a force in the paint and has added an improving mid-range game to his offensive repertoire. In his fourth NBA season, he’s averaging career highs across the board, putting up 22.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.
Who’s hot for the Bucks?
“Hot” is a term that hasn’t been used synonymously with “Bucks” or “Milwaukee” or “Wisconsin” in general for quite some time, but the obvious choice here is Ersan Ilyasova. The Lord of the Rings-loving forward is coming off of a 31-point performance in which he connected on 13-of-14 field goal attempts, including 2-of-2 from kaboomtown (I’m making this a thing now. Bear with me).
What’s the key matchup?
While containing Cousins is priority number one against the Kings, the matchup at point guard between Brandon Knight and Isaiah Thomas is perhaps more intriguing. It hasn’t translated to team success, necessarily, but Thomas has raised his game to another level after the team parted ways with Greivis Vasquez in December. Since then, Thomas has averaged at least 21 points and 6.7 assists in each month, and he’s shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor since the beginning of February – impressive for a player of his stature (5-9, 185). With Ben McLemore starting at shooting guard, it’s possible Larry Drew could opt to throw Nate Wolters, who would still have a considerable size advantage, on Thomas, though it’s more likely Knight, the stronger defender, will get the assignment initially. Knight holds a half-a-foot height advantage and thrives when pressuring the ball. Thomas is one of the league’s quickest players, so something will have to give if Knight wishes to apply ball pressure beyond the perimeter.
What’s the injury situation?
Larry Sanders (face) and Carlos Delfino (foot) are both out for Milwaukee. Ekpe Udoh (ankle) continues to be day-to-day. Sacramento’s Jason Terry (“knee rehab”) is out for the season, while Carl Landry (knee) is considered questionable.
Who’s going to win?
Excellent question. The Bucks look like a different team after the All-Star break and although that’s not saying much, reeling off three wins in seven games isn’t something that seemed remotely conceivable a month ago. That said, Cousins and Isaiah Thomas will be too much for Milwaukee to handle. I’ll say 98-93 Kings.
When do they play again?
Milwaukee travels to Sacramento on Sunday, March 23rd for the second of two meetings this season.
C – DeMarcus Cousins
PF – Jason Thompson
SF – Rudy Gay
SG – Ben McLemore
PG – Isaiah Thomas
C – Zaza Pachulia
PF – Ersan Ilyasova
SF – Khris Middleton
SG – Nate Wolters
PG – Brandon Knight
Scoring: 13th (101.5)
Scoring defense: 27th (103.9)
Rebounding: 12th (43.7)
Assists: 29th (19.3)
Scoring: 29th (93.7)
Scoring defense: 20th (101.9)
Rebounding: 25th (41.4)
Assists: 17th (21.1)
Points: Knight (16.9), Cousins (22.3)
Assists: Knight (5.0), Thomas (6.4)
Rebounds: Henson (7.7), Cousins (11.6)
Blocks: Henson (2.0), Cousins (1.3)
PER: Henson (17.9), Cousins (25.7)