CHARLOTTE – The Milwaukee Bucks (7-4) will play their second tournament game of the season Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets (3-7) at the Spectrum Center.
LaMelo Ball scored 13 points in the first quarter to lead the Hornets to a 37-28 lead after one frame. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard each scored seven for the Bucks.
Is Giannis playing?
Yes, according to head coach Adrian Griffin. The two-time MVP started the day as questionable, but became probable later in the afternoon.
Bucks injury report
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, probable (right calf injury management)
- MarJon Beauchamp, out (sprained right ankle)
- Chris Livingston, out (sprained left ankle)
- Jae Crowder, out (groin surgery)
Khris Middleton ready to play for the Bucks
For the first time this season, it appears that Khris Middleton will play the first game of a back-to-back, as he is not listed on the injury report.
This shouldn’t be surprising, however, as the game against the Hornets is an in-season tournament game and falls under the NBA’s new player participation policy. While Middleton is still on a minutes restriction and missed two games while dealing with a right knee injury from his offseason surgery, he is also considered a “star” player by the NBA due to his 2022 All-Star appearance.
For in-season tournament play, no more than one star player may rest.
With Antetokounmpo likely to play, Middleton and Damian Lillard should be available for the Bucks.
Miles Bridges returns from suspension for the Hornets
Charlotte is expected to welcome back forward Miles Bridges on Friday night. The 24-year-old missed all of last season following a June 2022 arrest for domestic violence. An unrestricted free agent at the time, no team offered him a contract. He received probation in November 2022, then the NBA suspended him 30 games on April 14, 2023 – but considered 20 of those games already served while he was out of contract.
Bridges signed a qualifying offer with the Hornets this summer and is coming off the final 10 games of his suspension. Bridges did not face further disciplinary action from the league for an October incident in which a warrant was issued for his arrest following a violation of a protection order issued in November 2022 .
On Thursday, the Hornets released the following statement: Miles Bridges is eligible to return to our active roster on Friday after serving his NBA suspension. We are comfortable with Miles’ return to play based on our current understanding of the facts of the recent allegations and remain in contact with the NBA as this matter progresses through the legal process.
The Hornets face a must-win scenario against the Bucks
The Bucks enter Friday night’s game 1-0 as a group so far, having beaten New York by five points on November 3. The Hornets are 1-1 and losing a second time in a four-game pool scenario would essentially eliminate them from reaching the quarterfinals the week of December 4.
Charlotte has a plus-1 point differential in its two games, and the total point differential is the second-highest pool tiebreaker after the head-to-head record.
“It’s definitely an interesting innovation,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said of the tournament. “Obviously, for us right now, I think the most important thing is to take each game at a time, to look at what’s directly in front of us.
“Obviously it would be a lot of fun to be a part of the tournaments during the season, but we just have to focus on ourselves, continue to improve and be ready to come play a big game against the Hornets, respect them and be ourselves.
The Bucks will play their third tournament game on November 24 against Washington at Fiserv Forum and conclude group play in Miami on November 28.
What is the in-season tournament?
Modeled after various European soccer “cups,” the NBA is introducing round-robin pool play bringing together all 30 teams to help make regular season games more meaningful for players and fans. The Bucks are in Group B East and will face New York, Miami, Washington and Charlotte.
The teams that win their group qualify for the single elimination matches for the last eight teams, namely the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The semi-finals and final will take place in Las Vegas.
The group play portion of the tournament runs from November 3 to December 3. 9. Group games, which will be dubbed “tournament nights,” will be played every Tuesday and Friday from November 3 to 28.
What is the Bucks’ in-season tournament schedule?
- Tonight: Bucks at Hornets, 6 p.m.
- Friday, November 24: Bucks vs. Wizards, 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 28: Bucks at Heat, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Bucks vs Hornets prediction, odds, spread
The Bucks are 7.5-point favorites to beat the Hornets, according to Bet MGM.
What is the Bucks’ schedule?
Milwaukee returns home to face a well-rested Dallas team and MVP candidate Luka Dončić on Saturday at Fiserv Forum. The Mavericks, coached by former Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, have not played since Wednesday night.
The Bucks then hit the road again to face Jordan Poole, Johnny Davis, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and the rest of the Washington Wizards on Monday.
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