The Milwaukee Bucks return to action Monday night against the Denver Nuggets after two days off, hosting the defending champions at 7 p.m.
This game marks two weeks since Doc Rivers took over on the bench for Milwaukee (34-19), which lost to Denver (36-17) in Mile High City on Jan. 29 in his debut.
Milwaukee took a 28-23 lead after one quarter against Denver. The Bucks took a 13-2 lead but found themselves trailing 19-18 after Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard had to sit early with two early fouls each. Nikola Jokić scored 14 points on 12 shots for the Nuggets, while Jamal Murray was held scoreless on just two attempts.
Is Giannis playing?
Bucks head coach Doc Rivers said Giannis Antetokounmpo is available to play against Denver with patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Antetokounmpo has been playing despite his injury since February 4 in Utah. However, he has scored a total of 32 points in his last two games.
Milwaukee Bucks Injury Report
- Khris Middleton, out (left ankle sprain)
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo, available (non-COVID illness)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, probable (patellar tendinitis of right knee)
- Damian Lillard, probable (left ankle sprain)Rivers said Lillard is available to play for the Bucks.
Bucks starting lineup
- Guards: Malik Beasley, Damian Lillard
- Advantages: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jae Crowder
- Center: Brook Lopez
When will Khris Middleton return?
Middleton sprained his left ankle after landing on Kevin Durant’s foot on Feb. 6 in Phoenix, and he left the Footprint Center in a walking boot that night. Although he no longer required ankle support when the team returned to Milwaukee on Feb. 8 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rivers called it a “bad” ankle sprain.
With the All-Star break happening Feb. 16-22, it’s likely Middleton won’t return to action until the team returns — at the earliest.
“It’s not going to heal quickly — maybe at 21 (years old),” Rivers said with a laugh during Sunday’s practice. “With Khris, probably all of our guys but plus the veterans, look, I want to win every game right now but I really want to be great at the end of the year. And ultimately, to me, we have to be healthy. That’s basically, in talking to our doctors, one of the first things I said. I’m not the coach who will push guys to play. I’m the coach, right now, that’s going to sit the guys down and practice and prepare because no matter what happens, if we win them all and aren’t ready – or lose them all and are ready – I I’ll accept that. This must be our state of mind. We want to win every game. I am extremely competitive. I don’t like losing matches. But we want to be prepared.
Denver vs. Milwaukee last game; Nikola Jokic statistics
The Nuggets, the defending NBA champions, defeated the Bucks, 113-107, on Jan. 29 in a game that marked the start of a five-game road trip for the Bucks. It was also the debut of the head coach of the Rivers’ Bucks.
Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray scored a game-high 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic had a triple-double with 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 29 points.
The Bucks would only win one game on the road trip.
Bucks vs. Odds Nuggets: spread, higher/lower point total
Milwaukee is a 1.5-point favorite against Denver and the game’s over/under is 232.5 points, according to BetMGM.
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