Wednesday, December 6, 2023

NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (7-4) at Charlotte Hornets (3-7)

The Charlotte Hornets will have a different personnel makeup when they take the court Friday night.

They’re hoping for better results as well.

The game is expected to mark the return of forward Miles Bridges when the Hornets take on the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.

Bridges is eligible to return for the Hornets after more than a year away due to an NBA-imposed suspension regarding a domestic violence case.

But last month, Bridges turned himself in to North Carolina authorities after an arrest warrant was issued for an alleged violation of a domestic violence protective order. He was accused of threatening the mother of his children and is due back in court in February.

If nothing else, Bridges’ return could be good for the team’s spirits.

The timing might be ideal for the Hornets, who played earlier in the week without Terry Rozier (groin), Gordon Hayward (hamstring) and rookie Brandon Miller (ankle). Charlotte went 3-7 to open the season, losing its past two games and four of the last five.

The Bucks ran away for a 128-112 road victory against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, avenging a defeat from a visit to Toronto earlier in the month.

Damian Lillard had 37 points and a season-best 13 assists and Malik Beasley registered a season-high 30 points, making up for the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was out because of injury management, so it’s possible that he’s back for the Charlotte game.

Then the Bucks lost forward MarJon Beauchamp to a sprained ankle in the Toronto game.

Friday night’s game is part of the NBA in-season tournament. Both teams are in East Group B with the Bucks holding a 1-0 record and the Hornets sitting at 1-1.

With Charlotte’s wounded roster, Clifford was bothered by the inconsistencies involving players called upon for larger roles.

So with Bridges back, there’s bound to be continuity issues surfacing again.

What seemed particularly disturbing were Charlotte’s 18 turnovers in the 111-105 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday.

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has done well in producing offensively. He has reached the 25-point mark in five consecutive games, something that a Charlotte player hadn’t done since Kemba Walker during the 2018-19 season.

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