NBA: Thunder hope to end Bucks’ unbeaten start
The Milwaukee Bucks have the franchise record for longest winning streak to start a season, and they will try to keep it going when they face the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.
With a 115-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in Minneapolis, the Bucks improved to 8-0. Not only does that mark set the franchise record, but it’s also the first 8-0 start in the NBA since the Golden State Warriors began the 2015-16 season with 24 consecutive wins and won a record 73 games.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday have fueled the Bucks’ sizzling start.
On Friday, Antetokounmpo missed out on scoring 30 points for the first time since the season opener. He finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his first triple-double of the season, though.
Holiday is averaging 28.5 points, six rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.8 steals over the past four games. It’s his first career streak of at least four games scoring 25 or more points.
Both Antetokounmpo and Holiday have had success against the Thunder in their careers.
Antetokounmpo has averaged 23.2 points and 11.9 rebounds in 17 career games against the Thunder. The rebounding average is his highest against any opponent.
In 29 games against the Thunder, Holiday has averaged 16.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 7.9 assists — his second-best assist mark against an opponent.
Another key player recently for Milwaukee will get his first shot against the Thunder on Saturday.
Rookie MarJon Beauchamp is coming off a 14-point, five-rebound performance in 18 minutes against Minnesota.
Beauchamp had eight points and five rebounds total in four NBA games before Friday.
“He’s just kind of, I think, getting a better feel, getting more confident, we’re getting more confident in him,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
While the Thunder can’t match Antetokounmpo and Holiday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is playing at a high level, too.
Over the past five games since he returned from a one-game absence, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 28.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.2 blocks.
However, late in Oklahoma City’s loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, Gilgeous-Alexander adjusted a play during a timeout to open up space for teammate Josh Giddey.
“Dude’s got 35 (points) and he’s thinking about how to create more space for his teammate,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said of Gilgeous-Alexander. “That’s pretty special.”
Gilgeous-Alexander said he was just helping the Thunder do what they can to win — both in the moment and long term. The effort was unsuccessful on Thursday, though as Denver prevailed 122-110.
“For us to win games, it’s gonna take more than me,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished the contest with 37 points. “The guys gotta get comfortable out there. … I can’t score 110 points every night. We need the other guys, and I just want to make sure they’re comfortable offensively.”
Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski is listed as out for the Saturday game due to right shoulder bursitis. Pokusevski has not missed a game this season.
Saturday’s game is the first of two between the teams this season. It won’t take long before the second is played, as the Bucks and Thunder will meet again Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
Milwaukee won both matchups last season.
–Field Level Media