The Milwaukee Bucks enter Monday’s game in somewhat uncharted territory. They have lost three of their last four games and their best player through at least Monday’s game. This is the first sign of adversity for the Bucks all season.
They will try to respond when they visit the Pepsi Center to face the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are coming off perhaps their worst loss of the season Saturday night to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs have now beaten the Nuggets twice. Denver has lost two of their last three games.
Bucks Carry On Without Freak
The Milwaukee Bucks come into play with an NBA-best 53-11 record. As was noted earlier, they have lost three of their last four games for the first time this season. In Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bucks lost Giannis Antetokounmpo for the time being from a minor knee sprain.
He did not play Sunday against the Phoenix Suns and will not play Monday night at Denver. The Bucks, without Antetokounmpo, fell to the Suns 140-131 on Sunday. Milwaukee, the league’s best defensive team, allowed 47 points in the first quarter.
Khris Middleton tried to pick up the slack offensively, as he led the Bucks with 39 points. Eric Bledsoe added 28. The Bucks trailed by 19 points after the first quarter and just couldn’t make up the deficit. They cut Phoenix’s lead to six at 134-128, but the Suns closed out the game with free throws.
Milwaukee is averaging 118.8 points per game, which leads the league. They shoot 47.8% from the field and 35.6% from behind the arc. The Bucks allow 106.8 points per game and their defensive rating of 101.5 leads the league.
In Antetokounmpo’s absence, Middleton leads the offense, averaging 20.7 points per game.
Nuggets Look to Turn Things Around
The Denver Nuggets come into play with a record of 42-21, one game ahead of the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division. They are currently in third position in the Western Conference playoff race, a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers.
Denver has two of their last three games, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you look at the opponents in those losses. The Nuggets fell to the Golden State Warriors and their 14-48 record on Tuesday, then they succumbed to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday for the second time this season.
Cleveland is 18-45 after their upset of the Nuggets, and they have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Will Barton led the Nuggets with 22 points, Gary Harris added 18, and Jamal Murray chipped in 17.
Denver is averaging 110.6 points, good for 20th in the league. They shoot 47.1% from the field, which is sixth in the league. The Nuggets allow an average of 107.6 points per game, and their defensive rating of 109.2 is 14th in the league.
They are led offensively by center Nikola Jokic. He is averaging 20.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game.
Betting Lines and Predictions
MyBookie currently have the Nuggets favored by 2.5 points. This season, the Bucks are 36-27-0 against the spread, while the Nuggets are 28-30-4. The Bucks are without their best player, but they are still very deep and very talented. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are struggling on the offensive end as well as on defense. Take the Bucks on the road in this one.