Milwaukee Bucks: 3 keys to victory when hosting OKC Thunder

Feb 14, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez
CLEVELAND, OHIO – FEBRUARY 05 (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks will square off against the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time within a week tonight, this time looking to even up the season series.

OKC won the first matchup 114-109 last Sunday, despite the absence of their promising young star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has since returned to the lineup. That means Milwaukee will have an even tougher test this time around facing the Thunder.

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Just as they were last time these two teams met, the Thunder sit in 14th place in the Western Conference standings. Still, their 11-17 record does not speak for their play, as evidenced by their win against Milwaukee last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee has been struggling immensely lately, losing five consecutive games. Coming off a loss to the Toronto Raptors last night, the Bucks will face a tall task getting back on the right track tonight with little rest.

A win tonight would be a substantial boost for the Bucks in what feels to be a must-win, and here are three keys to victory for them to get back to their winning ways.

First key to victory when hosting the Thunder — Milwaukee Bucks need a better game from Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez’s fit with the Bucks has been questioned repeatedly this year, particularly after their game against the Thunder last Sunday.

Milwaukee’s starting center played just 19 total minutes, including five minutes in the entire second half of action. Lopez scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting from the floor before he was pulled out of the game with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter, never seeing the court again.

The Bucks deferred to backup big man Bobby Portis for the remainder of the game as he played just under 28 minutes. Portis had another great game during that time, as he has been a key contributor off the bench this season scoring the ball, bolstering his stock once again Sunday night. 

However, as good as he is on the offensive end, Portis has his issues defensively. Portis has never been the most impactful defender, and it showed as Thunder big man Al Horford took advantage with a strong second half showing. Portis is not solely to blame for that, but the Bucks certainly missed Lopez’s defensive presence during that second half.

That might make the Bucks more willing to keep him on the floor during the rematch, and he must take advantage. The Bucks will need a rejuvenated performance from Brook Lopez, and hopefully, he can deliver this time around.