San Antonio Spurs vs. Milwaukee Bucks
NBA Basketball: Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 3:00 pm (VISA Athletic Center)
The Line: Milwaukee Bucks -8.5 -- O/U: 186 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks meet in an NBA preseason game from the VISA Athletic Center on Thursday afternoon.
The San Antonio Spurs come into the bubble looking to keep their playoff streak alive, having made the playoffs each of the last 22 years. That streak was in jeopardy as the Spurs were 27-36 on the year and 12th in the West, but the Coronavirus outbreak and the bubble format that followed gave San Antonio a lifeline as one of four teams within the four-game space to force a play-in series for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. From a roster standpoint, the Spurs were dealt a pair of blows, losing Lamarcus Aldridge to shoulder surgery, which is big considering he was second on the team in scoring with 18.9 PPG with a team-high 7.4 RPG this season. Trey Lyles is also going to miss the restart with appendicitis, averaging 6.4 points per game in 20.2 MPG this season. The Spurs still have some solid pieces, led by DeMar DeRozan, who led the Spurs with 22.2 PPG while shooting a blistering 52.6% from the field in the regular season, while Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Rudy Gay are all expected in Orlando as well.
The Milwaukee Bucks owned the best record in the NBA by a country mile, sitting at 53-12 with a 6.5-game lead over the second-place Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks averaged 118.8 PPG, which led the NBA while also sitting top-5 in the league defensively with 107.4 points per game against this season. The concern for Milwaukee isn’t against the lower-tier teams as Milwaukee was 38-2 against teams below .500, but the Bucks were just 15-10 in games against teams above .500 before the league was forced to pause. Roster-wise, the only blips that the virus caused to the Bucks was the acquisition of the virus by guard Eric Bledsoe, but he has since arrived in Orlando, while guard Pat Connaughton tested positive on Monday and is expected to join the team once he clears protocol and completes his quarantine. The Bucks are led by MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokoumpo, who is averaging 29.6 PPG on 54.7% shooting from the field with a whopping 13.7 RPG for Milwaukee. Khris Middleton was also in the midst of another solid season, averaging 21.1 PPG and if the rest of the cast follows in suit, guys like Brook Lopez, George Hill and co., we could see the Bucks doing some damage over the course of the postseason inside the bubble.
Given what we know so far, as much as I’d like to give San Antonio a chance to keep their playoff streak alive, the Spurs weren’t a good team to begin with, with Aldridge and Lyles in the fold, now without them it’s going to be even a taller task. Milwaukee is simply the better team here and should be able to get the job done in this one.