Basketball

Warriors look to ease road woes against Bucks

The Golden State Warriors will look to claim only their third road win of the season when they face the Milwaukee Bucks in a potential NBA Finals preview. Golden State have recovered from a slow start to their title defence to sit at 14-13, eighth in the Western Conference. The reigning champions delivered a reminder of their title credentials last time out, defeating the team they vanquished in last year’s Finals, the 21-6 Boston Celtics, 124-107.

As with most of their successes so far this season, that win came at friendly confines of the Chase Center.

On their travels, it is a different story for the Warriors, who are 2-11 on the road. It will be a tall order to improve that dismal mark against the Bucks, who are 12-3 at home, and at 19-7 overall trail only the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Yet the Bucks displayed vulnerability in stumbling to defeat against the rebuilding Houston Rockets in their most recent encounter. It is still relatively early in the season, but this matchup between the last two NBA champions will be a good barometer of each team’s prospects as they plot a path to lifting the trophy again this campaign. PIVOTAL PERFORMERS Milwaukee Bucks – Giannis Antetokounmpo Antetokounmpo is obviously the heartbeat of the Bucks, and he will be motivated to bounce back after being held to 16 points in 36 minutes in their loss to the Rockets. It was just the second time he had been limited to 16 or less in that number of minutes since the 2017-18 season. The Warriors are allowing the ninth-most points per game in the NBA (116.1), seemingly giving Antetokounmpo the opportunity to get back on track in a marquee matchup. Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson The second ‘Splash Brother’ atoned for his somewhat disappointing performance in last year’s Finals by making it rain against the Celtics. He shot 53.8 per cent from the field in racking up 34 points in a game that also saw Stephen Curry score 32. When the Warriors get those contributions from both their leading lights, even teams as talented as the Bucks find them tough to overcome. KEY BATTLE – Can Looney prevent second chances? Kevon Looney was exceptional as the Warriors defeated the Celtics. He finished plus-19 the plus-minus and dominated on the defensive glass. Twelve of Looney’s 15 rebounds came on the defensive side, and his ability to excel in that area will be critical against a Bucks team that is eighth in offensive rebounds per game and second-chance points. HEAD-TO-HEAD The Warriors and Bucks split their season series in the previous campaign, but Golden State have not tasted victory on the road against Milwaukee since 2018.

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