Tuesday, February 20, 2024

NBA Preview: Charlotte Hornets (10-40) at Milwaukee Bucks (33-19)

The Milwaukee Bucks, who are trying to reverse a rough trend, will host a team in a worst stretch on Friday.

After losing five of their last six games, the Bucks will oppose the Charlotte Hornets, who have lost nine in a row.

The Bucks lost 129-105 to the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night in the home debut for newly hired Rivers, so there is not much time to bounce back for the injury-riddled team. Milwaukee stars Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton didn’t play due to left ankle injuries.

The Bucks could receive a boost if Patrick Beverley is available to play a day after he was acquired in a trade with the 76ers. Milwaukee sent Cameron Payne and a 2027 second-round draft pick to Philadelphia in exchange for Beverley, a defensive specialist who is averaging 6.3 points per game this season.

The Hornets made a move, too. They traded sixth man P.J. Washington, who is averaging 13.6 points per game this season, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Seth Curry, Grant Williams and a 2027 first-round pick. Curry and Williams both played high school ball in Charlotte.

Hornets forward Miles Bridges has become a productive player at high levels, particularly this week. He scored 41 and 45 points in the past two games, going a combined 11 of 21 from 3-point range.

But even with that, Charlotte has run into trouble on offense.

During the current losing streak, the past two games have featured the second- and third-best point totals for Charlotte, 118 and 117.

The defense continues to be troublesome, though. In Charlotte’s 123-117 home loss to Toronto on Wednesday, the Raptors shot 53.1 percent from the floor, 51.5 percent (17 of 33) from 3-point range.

The Hornets continue to be hindered by a long injury list. On the plus side, Martin could be rounding into form. He was out with an injury until late December, but he posted a season-high 19 points against the Raptors.

The Bucks won 130-99 at Charlotte on Nov. 17, with Lillard posting 27 points. The Friday game will be the first of three meetings between the teams across a three-week stretch.

The Bucks are 21-6 at home, while the Hornets are 5-19 on the road.

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