The Oklahoma City Thunder managed to get by without the NBA’s leading scorer Friday night, but could be in for a challenge against one of the league’s best defensive home teams.
The Milwaukee Bucks, who are limiting opponents to 89.2 points per game at home - second-lowest in the NBA - will look for their seventh consecutive home victory Saturday night over the Oklahoma City franchise, which may once again be without Kevin Durant(notes).
Durant, who is averaging 28.0 points, was held out of Friday’s 89-84 victory in Boston with a sore left ankle, snapping a streak of 110 consecutive games played.
“It’s not painful to watch when we’re winning,” he said. “Of course I want to be out there and play with my team. I’ve got to make sure I’m healthy first, though.”
Durant has averaged 25.5 points against the Bucks over his career, and totaled 64 in his previous two meetings when facing them.
Russell Westbrook(notes) stepped up with Durant on the sidelines, putting up a game-high 31 points and dishing out six assists. Despite missing his last seven attempts from the floor, Westbrook was acknowledged for playing hero against the Celtics.
Milwaukee has limited Westbrook to 15.8 points per game, and is 3-0 against the Thunder (8-4) when he scores 17 or less.
Jeff Green(notes), who is third on Oklahoma City with 18.2 points per game, was also unavailable against Boston as he continues to deal with an ankle injury. Green’s status to play against the Bucks is unknown.
While the Bucks (5-7) have held teams in check at the Bradley Center, they’ll likely have to come out with another strong defensive effort if they hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Milwaukee is averaging 92.3 points per game, but struggled in a 90-79 loss in Philadelphia on Friday. Brandon Jennings(notes), who leads the team with 16.7 points per game, finished with 12 while Andrew Bogut(notes) was limited to a season-low four.
“We can’t make excuses,” Bogut said. “We just have to blame ourselves. I think we came into this game knowing their record. I don’t know if we were tired or what’s going on.”
Bogut is averaging 8.0 points over his last four contests, but could bounce back against the Thunder, as he has averaged 16.8 against them over the past four seasons.
The Australian, who is among the league-leaders in rebounds (10.8), has been a defensive force in his previous five games against the Thunder, averaging 10.6 boards, 2.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals.
The Bucks went 0 for 12 from three-point range Friday night, marking the first time since Jan. 30, 2005 that they failed to register a three-point field goal.
They could heat up from long distance against the Thunder, though, who are allowing teams to shoot 40.5 percent from beyond the arc.