When the two heavyweights meet on Saturday night in San Francisco, the Milwaukee Bucks would love to see Giannis Antetokounmpo return after missing two games, and the Golden State Warriors hope their home court will heal their recent injuries.
As they leave on a three-game Western swing, the Bucks have won three straight, including two straight over the Orlando Enchantment and Brooklyn Nets with Antetokounmpo sidelined by a sensitive right hand.
Brook Lopez, who was born in California and went to Stanford, has done a great job filling in for Antetokounmpo in the last two games. He scored 26 points against the Magic and scored 24 points, 10 rebounds, and a NBA-high nine blocks against the Nets.
After the Brooklyn game, the 34-year-old said that he sometimes doesn’t know why teams would want to attack the candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
In Milwaukee’s 128-111 home victory over the Warriors in December, their only previous meeting this season, Lopez had seven points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.
Antetokounmpo, who is still out for Saturday’s rematch, scored 30 points to lead the Bucks, but he shot just 9-for-26 overall and 1-for-6 from three-point range in his 11th matchup with fellow defensive force Draymond Green.
The two-time MVP has had problems with Green in the past. In those games, Antetokounmpo has only scored 19.5 points and grabbed 7.5 rebounds, shooting 47% overall and 21% from three-point range.
Green has defeated Antetokounmpo in assists (5.9-4.5) and steals (1.5-1.3) to lead Golden State to seven victories in the 11 games. In those games, Green has battled Antetokounmpo almost to a standstill on the boards (7.5-7.1).
Green scored 16 points against Jaren Jackson Jr. in Golden State’s 131-110 loss to Memphis on Thursday, which was the team’s eighth consecutive road loss.
Golden State, on the other hand, has won six straight games at home, five of those victories coming on their most recent homestand, when they overcame five consecutive deficits to defeat the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, and New Orleans Pelicans.
The Warriors are likely to play again without Andrew Wiggins, who has missed 10 games in a row due to personal matters, and Gary Payton II, who has missed 12 games in a row due to abdominal issues. However, they should be reassured by returning to the site of 27 wins in 34 games.
After spraining his right ankle during warmups, Jonathan Kuminga joined them on the sidelines in Memphis and is also unlikely to play on Saturday.
Steve Kerr, the Warriors’ coach, felt that Kuminga lacked defensive energy against the Grizzlies.