Preview/Game Details: Charlotte Hornets take on Bucks in In-Season Tournament

What: Charlotte Hornets (3-7) vs Milwaukee Bucks (7-4)

When: 7:00pm Eastern

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets-City (teal/mint), Bucks-Association (white)

Game Lines: Hornets +7.5, O/U 235.5

Hornets: Gordon Hayward-questionable (hamstring), Brandon Miller-questionable (ankle), Terry Rozier-out (groin), Cody Martin-out (knee), James Bouknight-out (knee), Frank Ntilikina-out (leg)

Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo-questionable (calf), MarJon Beauchamp-questionable (ankle), Jae Crowder-out (groin), Chris Livingston-out (ankle)

What’s left of the Hornets and Bucks will face each other in what we’ll be the Hornets third tournament game and the Bucks second. Both teams are chasing the undefeated Miami Heat, and it’s a must-win for the Hornets if they have any interest in advancing out of the group and into the meaningful knockout round games.

The big story tonight is the return of Miles Bridges, who has served his suspension and is apparently a major an immediate part of the Hornets plans. It remains to be seen if he’ll start tonight, and it’s probably heavily dependent on the health of Gordon Hayward and Brandon Miller. It’ll be fascinating to see the reception he receives when he’s introduced, either as a starter or when he enters off the bench.

LaMelo Ball loves playing the Bucks. He’s averaged 25.7 points per game in seven career games against Miwaukee, his second highest against any team. Only the Portland Trail Blazers have seen a higher per game scoring output from LaMelo. With all the injuries the Hornets are dealing with, they’ll need another big game from their star point guard if they want to keep pace.

He’ll have a good chance to do that given where the Bucks have struggled this season. As of a few days ago, the Bucks were the third worst team in the league at defending the pick and roll after being elite in that area last season.

Ball is very adept at running the pick and roll. He should have ample opportunity to get into the paint and feed the Hornets bigs for lobs if he’s not finishing on his own.

The Bucks are predicably led by their star pairing of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. The two are averaging 29.5 and 24.3 points per game respectively while Giannis leads the team in rebounds and Lillard leads the team in assists. Khris Middleton hasn’t been the third star yet as he plays under a minutes restriction. He’s averaging an efficient 11.3 points in 19.1 minutes per game. Malik Beasley and Bobby Portis add some extra scoring punch, and Brook Lopez is big.

The Bucks haven’t quite found their stride yet, so this a chance for the Hornets to steal one, especially if they get Miller and Hayward back. It looked like both were practicing to some extent in the team’s social, so there’s reason to be hopeful there. They’ll need some contributions from them, LaMelo Ball Bucks game, and a big night from someone else to take steal one from the Bucks on a Friday night.

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