NBA Basketball

125
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Milwaukee 37 22 34 32 125
Denver 42 20 26 24 112
112
6:30 PM PT7:30 PM MT8:30 PM CT9:30 PM ET2:30 GMT10:30 7:30 PM MST9:30 PM EST6:30 UAE (+1)03:3021:30 ET8:30 PM CT0:30 , February 8, 2021
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

Nikola Jokic looks to enhance MVP hopes as Nuggets host Bucks

According to STATS
According to STATS

Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets

  1. The Nuggets went 2-0 against Milwaukee last season, one of two teams to sweep the season series versus the Bucks in 2019-20 (also Dallas). The Bucks are 4-16 against Denver since the start of the 2010-11 season, their worst record against any opponent in that time.
  2. The Bucks have won four straight games by at least 18 points each, the first team to do so since the Bucks themselves from November 30 to December 6, 2019. The last team to win five straight in a single season by at least 18 points was Portland in January-February 1978.
  3. Khris Middleton shot 4-for-5 from behind the arc in Milwaukee's win over Cleveland on Saturday, raising his percentage to .465 for the season, to go along with .520 from the field and .928 from the foul line. Only Steve Nash (twice) and Steph Curry (once, in 2015-16) have shot 50-45-90 for a full season.
  4. Denver has lost three of its last four games, including its last two at the Lakers and Kings. The Nuggets' last four opponents have shot 50.6 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from three after they held their previous five opponents to 43.7 percent shooting and 32.7 percent from three, winning all five.
  5. Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 50 points in Denver's loss to Sacramento on Saturday. He's the eighth Nugget to score 50 points in a regular season game and, with his 12 assists, the second to post a 50-point double-double after Carmelo Anthony on February 7, 2011 (50 points, 11 rebounds).
  6. Nikola Jokic's 50-point, 12-assist game against Sacramento was his 22nd straight double-double to start the season, the longest streak since Bill Walton did so in 34 straight in 1976-77. Walton averaged 21.6 points and 16.6 rebounds during that run while Jokic is posting 27.2 ppg and 11.5 rpg this season.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Giannis Antetokounmpo arrives in Denver with the Milwaukee Bucks and brings with him two MVP awards.

Nikola Jokic is making a case for succeeding Antetokounmpo for the NBA MVP, and can burnish his resume when the Nuggets host Milwaukee on Monday night.

Jokic has played at an elite level for a few years but has reached another tier with his performances this season. The Denver center is coming off a career-high 50-point game in a loss at Sacramento on Saturday night, which came six days after he tied his previous career best of 47.

Even with those performances the Nuggets has dropped two straight and would like to avoid a third against one of the title contenders. Denver is playing short-handed in the backcourt, which is one reason Jokic carried the offense on Saturday.

"More impressive than the 50 points, the 12 assists and the eight rebounds was his approach, his mindset, his leadership," Denver coach Michael Malone said after Saturday's loss. "He knew we were undermanned. He understood how important this game was. Nikola goes out and does his job. He doesn't care. We lost the game, that's all he's going to care about."

The Nuggets were without guards Gary Harris (adductor strain), Jamal Murray (left knee), P.J. Dozier (hamstring) and Facundo Campazzo (right knee) in Sacramento, which meant more playing time for rookies Markus Howard and RJ Hampton. The two might see extended time Monday if Murray stays sidelined.

Murray, Harris and Campazzo are considered day-to-day. If they cannot play, Hampton has shown he can handle the increased time, especially on the defense end.

"I don't think I've ever been considered like a defensive specialist or anything," Hampton said Saturday. "I feel like I've always been capable of it. I feel like there's two positions in basketball -- on the court and off the court. If coach needs me to play defense, that's what I'm going to do."

The Bucks have a healthier lineup and have won four straight after posting back-to-back victories at Cleveland. Like Jokic, Antetokounmpo leads his team in scoring, rebounds and assists, and has a strong supporting cast as well. The next step for him is reaching the NBA Finals and winning a title, and Monday can serve as a measuring stick.

Milwaukee is 9-40 all-time in games played in Denver and lost both matchups last season, the second coming just before the pandemic put the NBA on a pause last March. The Bucks are looking forward to seeing a different opponent.

"I'm just pleased with the way the guys executed and played," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said after Saturday's win. "Back-to-back, same team, those are never easy."

Monday's matchup is the start of a four-game Western Conference road trip for Milwaukee, which is 3-4 this season against the West. Denver starts a four-game homestand, with the first two against the Eastern Conference.

The Nuggets will host an Eastern Conference team for the first time this season and are 3-1 against the East. They were scheduled to host Detroit last week but it was postponed due to health and protocol issues with the Pistons.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 8, 2021

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