Tuesday, Feb. 4 (6:30 p.m., TNT)
Why it’s on the list
Nielsen lists them as the 36th- and 50th-largest television markets in the United States, respectively, but Milwaukee and New Orleans are tangible proof that you don’t need to be located in a major metropolis to garner massive exposure in the NBA. The Bucks were awarded with a total of 34 national TV appearances in ’19-20, which ranks sixth among 30 franchises, while the Pelicans’ tally of 30 places them ninth. Both head-to-head matchups between the squads will be on the national airwaves, with TNT and ESPN getting one opportunity apiece. Milwaukee posted the NBA’s best record in ’18-19 at 60-22, led by first-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule
NBA teams generally don’t prefer one-game homestands, because it sometimes means not being able to unpack your suitcase before heading back to the airport. The Bucks’ visit comes during an awkward stretch, with New Orleans heading to Houston to play on Super Bowl Sunday, returning home for this Tuesday game, then heading north to Chicago and Indiana for a Thursday/Saturday excursion.
What’s new in Milwaukee
Mascots beware, because the Bucks signed center Robin Lopez in the offseason, joining twin brother Brook Lopez as an NBA teammate for the first time in the siblings’ careers. Milwaukee also made a valuable pickup this summer by signing steady wing Wesley Matthews. The realities of the salary cap made it impossible for the Bucks to retain their entire successful core, which led to departures by Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana) and Nikola Mirotic (returned to Europe).
Matchups to watch
Many eyes will be on the frontcourts, with this being the second meeting of the season between high-flying talents No. 1 pick Zion Williamson and Antetokounmpo, who’d be a lock as top choice if there were a redo of the ’13 draft. In addition, Bucks forward/guard Khris Middleton and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram represented primary scoring options for their respective teams last season, with Middleton second for Milwaukee (18.3 ppg) and Ingram third with the Lakers (18.3).
Bucks history in this countdown
The rise of Antetokounmpo individually and the Bucks as a whole makes them one of the league’s most interesting and entertaining teams. This marks the first time Milwaukee has appeared on Pelicans.com’s list in seven years, though it was close to cracking the list previously. The Bucks had been one of five squads never mentioned; the others are Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix and Washington.
Other 2019-20 games between these teams
Wednesday, Dec. 11, New Orleans at Milwaukee (ESPN)