In a rare National TV appearance for Milwaukee, the Bucks will host the New York Knicks on Wednesday, April 11th. This is a huge game in terms of the playoff picture as these two teams are battling with the Philadelphia 76ers for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference. This contest will be nationally televised on ESPN at 8:00 EST Wednesday night.
Early odds show Milwaukee as a 4-point favorite over New York with a total set of 202 points.
Pending their game against the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night, the Knicks currently sit at 29-7 on the season. They would be the No. 7 seed in the East if the season were to end today, thought they share the same record with the Philadelphia 76ers. Both the Knicks and 76ers are 1.5 games ahead of Milwaukee, which is in ninth-place in the East and the last team out. The only reason New York is in this position is due to their tremendous play of late.
New York has won 11 of 14 under interim head coach Mike Woodson. The biggest reason for their turnaround has been defense, which is Woodson’s specialty. The Knicks have surrendered just 88.6 points per game in their 11 victories under their new head coach. Carmelo Anthony has stepped up his game to help make up for injuries to Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire that have forced each player to miss their last seven games. Anthony poured in a season-high 43 points in a 100-99 overtime victory over Chicago on Sunday. He is averaging 31.2 points on 49.1 percent shooting in his last five games.
Like the Knicks, the Bucks are on fire as well. Milwaukee (28-29) has won 13 of their last 18 games overall while scoring at will in the process. After scoring 104-plus points in 14 of their last 19 games, the Bucks are now 6th in the NBA in points per game (98.9) and 3rd in assists (23.68). It’s a huge improvement considering they ranked 30th in both of those categories last season. A big reason for their scoring barrage is the addition of Monte Ellis, whom they traded for before the deadline. They were averaging 97.0 points before the trade, and 104.7 in the 14 games since.
Milwaukee had won four straight before an 89-109 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. The Thunder stormed out to a 35-18 first quarter lead and never looked back. The Bucks never led, and they simply could not recover from such a huge deficit. Ersan Ilyasova led Milwaukee with 18 points, while Carlos Delfino grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and Ellis dished out a team-high seven assists. Ellis is averaging a team-high 20.3 points and 5.9 assists this season.
Milwaukee leads the all-time series 96-91, which includes a 56-37 home record. It has been complete domination of late by the Bucks as they’ve won eight of the last 10 meetings in this series. That includes two out of three this year. Milwaukee won the first meeting 100-86 on the road on January 20th 36 points and five assists from Brandon Jennings.
The Bucks would defend their home court on March 9th with a 119-114 triumph over the Knicks. Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Dunleavy and Jennings each scored at least 25 points while combining for 76 to lead the way. New York finally got their revenge with an 89-80 home win on March 26th, which put to end a four-game winning streak by Milwaukee in this series. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in points (28) and rebounds (12).