Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets

Don't miss a headline matchup between Giannis Antetokuonmpo's Milwaukee Bucks and James Harden's Houston Rockets on Wednesday, January 9th, at 8:00 PM EST, at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX. Broadcast is available on ESPN, AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest, and Fox Sports Wisconsin; radio available via WTMJ 620 AM and 790 AM.

How to Watch

Where: Toyota Center in Houston, TX

When: Wednesday, January 9th, at 8:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): ESPN, AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest, Fox Sports Wisconsin | WTMJ 620 AM, 790 AM

Milwaukee Bucks

Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer {All-Time 240-208 | ATL, MIL}

After a brief stint at first in the Eastern Conference over the New Year, the Milwaukee Bucks have fallen to second place in the East. With a record of 27-11 and a loss to the Toronto Raptors, the Bucks failed to secure a tiebreaker with the East leaders and gave up their short-lived number one ranking.

The Bucks were riding high on a five-game win streak, four of those coming at home. Considering the Bucks did not face a single team with a plus-.500 record, it was expected. When the Raptors came into Milwaukee though, they were reminded of the quality at the top of the Eastern Conference.

This match against the Houston Rockets will be the first of a three-game road trip for the Milwaukee Buck. Houston will be the only plus-.500 team they will face until January 27th, so the odds are surely in their favour to climb back to the top of the East.

Houston Rockets

Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni {All-Time 597-486 | DEN, PHX, NYK, LAL, HOU}

The Houston Rockets find themselves ranked fifth in the Western Conference. With a record of 22-16, the Rockers are just a game away from claiming fourth from the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Rockets were on quite the win streak of late, posting six straight wins before slipping up against the Portland Trail Blazers. They will look to regain their rhythm against the Milwaukee Bucks, before they take on two of the Eastern Conferences lesser teams in the Magic and the Cavaliers.

They will be going up against a similarly structured team in the Miwaukee Bucks. Both teams boast unstoppable playmaking forces in Harden and The Greek Freak, but rely on contributions from their role players to take them over the hill. The Rockets will need to choose who they want to have their night between Antetokounmpo and their bench, then exploit the other side.

What's At Stake?

It has been a tightly contested matchup in this inter-conference series. With a record of 55-53 in the all-time series, the Houston Rockets lead the Milwaukee Bucks.

Just a game behind the Toronto Raptors for first place, the Milwaukee Bucks would regain first in a tie with a win.

Fifth in the Western Conference, a win would bring the Rockets level with the Clippers at 23-16 for fourth place.

Questions to answer

Will the Bucks shore up their defence?

Is Rivers the leader the Rockets were looking for?

We are going to compare the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Bucks Let Everyone Through in their Last Loss

Against the Toronto Raptors the Bucks shot fairly well. Six players recorded double digit scoring and the Bucks shot a serviceable 38% from three. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they allowed every single Toronto Raptors starter the shots they wanted.

Swings around the horn for open threes, easy drives, and turnovers leading to easy layups defined the Milwaukee Bucks night. While the Raptors bench failed to show up against the Bucks, Milwaukee's starters were shown the class difference by the Raptors starters.

The Bucks leaky defence will surely be remedied by coach Mike Budenholzer. A big problem for the Bucks was that the threat of Brook Lopez was neutralized due to the Raptors' choice to attack him off the screen and roll. The Rockets and Harden always put the opposing big in the screen when playing in the half-court, so it will be interesting to see how the Bucks adjust.

Austin Rivers is coming into his own

It was difficult to know what to expect from Austin Rivers when he joined the Rockets on December 23rd. With Washington he performed more poorly than ever before in his career and the team attitude in Washington made it difficult to gauge his.

Rivers has endeared himself to the Houston Rockets supporters through his intense defence during his short stay. At 6'4 he is big enough to harass shooting guards and quick enough to keep up with point guards, allowing pressure to be relieved from James Harden.

Of course, his calling card has always been his scoring ability in isolation. While never incredibly efficient, his playmaking to spell James Harden when he is on the bench has been a god send for the Rockets. Almost to the point of stagnating, Rivers has breathed new life into the Rockets team.

Milwaukee Bucks Roster Notes

No current injuries to note

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

G Eric Gordon - Out (Knee) - Gordon has been ruled OUT for Monday's (Jan 7) game.

G Chris Paul - Out (Strained Left Hamstring) - Paul is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a left hamstring injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Head-to-Head: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs James Harden

Giannis Antetokounmpo

26.5 PPG | 6.1 APG | 12.6 RPG | 1.3 SPG | 1.6 BPG | 4.2 TOV | .590 FG% | .176 3P%

James Harden

33.7 PPG | 8.5 APG | 5.9 RPG | 2.0 SPG | 0.6 BPG | 5.6 TOV | .437 FG% | .386 3P%

Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden represent two ball-dominant playmakers with wildly different skillsets. Harden is a traditional isolation shooting guard who makes plays alone or off screens. Antetokounmpo is an absolute giant with the physical dominance of Shaquille O'Neal but the playing prowess of Jason Kidd. It will surely be an interesting matchup.

The Greek Freak is having one of the most tremendous seasons in NBA history. In today's modern NBA, his success without a reliable jump shot is almost unfathomable. Antetokounmpo is essentially a seven-foot point guard and has no match across the NBA. His playmaking will be put to the test as, seen against the Raptors, he cannot win a game all on his own.

James Harden has failed to score less than 35 points in a game for almost a month. That is absolutely absurd. His playmaking ability is on display, but his shooting has been red hot. What Harden does better than anyone else to reinforce his scoring though, is his ability to get to the free-throw line. Averaging 10.9 attempts per game, Harden either scores where he wants or force the foul. The Bucks will have to be cautious.

Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Milwaukee Bucks favoured over the Houston Rockets by 1.5, with an over/under of 110.

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