3 things to watch for as Milwaukee Bucks visit Oklahoma City Thunder

Oct 10, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday. Oklahoma City Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Oct 10, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

It almost feels a little weird that the Milwaukee Bucks are going to be playing a game against a team that isn’t at least in the play-in conversation, but that’s the case tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The last time the Bucks played a team outside of the play-in was back on February 15th, so they’ve been tested quite a bit lately. These teams met way back in mid-November, which the Bucks won 96-89 as the game was more competitive than most probably anticipated.

I’d like to assume that the Bucks can take care of business in this one and have it be not as competitive, but the Thunder have been pesky at times this season.

How will the Milwaukee Bucks defender OKC Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

Oklahoma City’s injury report is a lengthy one right now with at least six rotation guys out for a significant amount of time. That leaves an already young and not great team with even less depth, so they’ll be relying even more on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to carry their offense.

The Canadian guard did lead the Thunder in points back in November’s game against the Bucks, but he was held to 17 points on 36.8 percent true shooting, including 2-of-12 from 3. He struggled a lot when matched up against Jrue Holiday, shooting 3-of-9 and 1-of-5 from 3.

There are so few offensive options for the Thunder tonight (their star rookie, Josh Giddey, is out) so we’ll likely see a lot of Holiday on SGA.

Beyond Holiday, I’m sure Jevon Carter and Wesley Matthews (if he’s available) will get a chance to defend him as well. Those two would likely be the primary defenders if Holiday were to sit this game out since it’s the first game of a back-to-back and the Thunder are so shorthanded as it is.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s been on an absolute tear lately since coming back from an ankle injury. In those six games, he’s averaging 33.3 points on 65 percent true shooting along with six rebounds and nearly seven assists. He’s scored 30 or more points in five of those games (he had 29 in the other) so he’ll, once again, be the primary focus of the opposing defense.