Houston Rockets vs Milwaukee Bucks game preview - December 11

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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The Houston Rockets have the pleasure of kicking off a seven-game homestand against the 19-6 Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, December 11. Since the arrival of Mike Budenholzer in 2018-18, which coincided with Giannis Antetokounmpo emerging as a league MVP, the Bucks have routinely been one of the best teams in the association, and this season is no different. 

The Bucks are a game behind the Boston Celtics for the best record in the NBA and remain serious title contenders. They’ve done all this despite Khris Middleton (a three-time All-Star) and Pat Connaughton missing significant time and vastly underperforming their previous levels when healthy. 

The Rockets one day hope to establish the consistent excellence the Bucks have found in recent years, but they remain lightyears behind. After beating the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers in a span of a week, the Rockets got played off the court by the San Antonio Spurs, down their best offensive (Devin Vassell) and defensive (Jakob Poeltl) players. Inconsistency is part of the young team experience, but dropping a game to the undermanned Spurs counts as the Rockets’ first bad loss. 

The Rockets and Bucks met earlier in the season in Milwaukee, and the game went just about as expected. The Bucks won in dominant fashion, 125-105, and the game was never really in question as the Bucks raced out to an 18-point first-quarter lead. 

The Bucks’ three healthy stars had their way with the Rockets. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 44 points in 27 minutes on 17 of 21 shooting as he cosplayed as the spawn of Zeus, Jrue Holiday chipped in an efficient 19 points and 10 assists, and Brook Lopez set the defensive tone with five blocks. 

The Rockets’ second and final go around with the Bucks offers hope for better results. The Rockets have played better as the season has worn on, going 5-8 over their last 13 games, compared to 2-10 over their first 12. These are the stats to know, player to watch, and X-factor for the Rockets and Bucks Sunday night matchup.