Bucks-Knicks Preview

It's not certain whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will play Friday night, though the Milwaukee Bucks' second-leading scorer has been effective against the New York Knicks.

The visiting Bucks can move closer to gaining a playoff spot by completing their first sweep of the Knicks since 1990-91.

Milwaukee (38-40) fell 104-99 at home to Cleveland on Wednesday. The big story was the absence of Antetokounmpo, who was not hurt and had not missed a game all season, starting 67 of 77 contests and every one since Nov. 22.

Coach Jason Kidd said before the game that Antetokounmpo wouldn't start, saying only, ''just making a change.'' After the contest, Kidd did not state why Antetokounmpo was benched.

"Well, I think the culture is built around the team, not one person," Kidd said. "For one person not to play doesn't mean that we're not coming to win."

Antetokounmpo, averaging 12.7 points, has been plagued by foul problems in his last two games. He said he wasn't informed that he wasn't playing, and didn't say much else.

''It was a coach's decision,'' Antetokounmpo said. ''I really respect it.''

The second-year forward is averaging 15.0 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 60.0 percent in the season series. The Bucks have captured the first three meetings and took all four in 1990-91.

Brandon Knight led Milwaukee with averages of 17.0 points and 6.7 assists in the first three matchups, but he was dealt Feb. 19 to Phoenix.

The point guard now is Michael Carter-Williams, who scored a season-high 30 points against the Cavaliers.

"I had some early openings, and I got into a rhythm," Carter-Williams said. "The guys helped me get into spots where I could score the ball and I just tried to be aggressive."

Carter-Williams is averaging 18.5 points against the Knicks for his fourth-highest career mark against an Eastern Conference club.

The Bucks are sixth in the conference and have a magic number of two to secure a playoff spot. They can clinch Friday with a victory and a loss by Indiana in Detroit.

New York (15-63) fell for the 10th time in 11 games with Wednesday's 102-86 home defeat to the Pacers. Langston Galloway scored 19.

The woeful Knicks got off to a terrible start as they trailed 26-14 after one quarter. They have scored less than 17 points in the first quarter in four of the last seven games, and their 22.3 scoring average in the opening period is the league's worst.

The Bucks will get their first look at Ricky Ledo, a guard they drafted in 2013 and dealt to Philadelphia the next day. Ledo has turned in consecutive six-point efforts after averaging 15.0 in his previous three games.

"The decision was made to sign him for the rest of the season to evaluate him for these last four games but also still have the possibility of working with him through the early part of the offseason and possibly in preparation for summer league," coach Derek Fisher said.

These are two of the most inefficient offensive teams. Milwaukee averages 100.5 points per 100 possessions for the league's sixth-worst mark and New York is second-worst at 97.2.

Promoted Stories

More NBA