Apr 9, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) defends Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha (2) during the game at the Bradley Center. The Thunder defeated the Bucks 109-89. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

OKC Thunder (53-20) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (35-36) Preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder will be playing a road back-to-back tonight after having lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves last night.

This is the first meeting between the Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks this season. The Thunder will play them again on their last game of the regular season.

The Bucks are essentially locks for the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference and they are two and a half games back of the Boston Celtics for the seventh seed.

The Thunder are two and a half games back of the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder need to win seven of their last nine games to get to 60 wins for the season.

The Bucks look easy on paper but the Thunder have been inconsistent lately, especially on the road. The Bucks are not that bad of a team and definitely have the potential to beat the Thunder on a night like tonight.

The Thunder need their role players to step up. They’ve been losing lately despite Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both playing well.

Kevin Martin was abysmal last night shooting 1-for-9 from the field. Serge Ibaka was decent with 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks but the Thunder have come accustomed to more scoring from him and could use it tonight.

The Thunder have rarely lost back-to-back games this season and Milwaukee doesn’t seem like the kind of team that will give the Thunder a second straight loss.

The Bucks are at their best when they play well defensively, where they rank 12th overall in the league. They will need to make the Thunder less efficient to have a chance of beating them tonight, since their offense is ranked just 21st overall on the year.

The Bucks are also ranked 12th in offensive rebound rate and if Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are high-volume shooters tonight, they’ll need to work to get extra chances to beat the Thunder.

The Bucks are third in the NBA in turnover rate which will be another key for them. You can’t afford to turn the ball over and give a team like the Thunder more possessions than you for no reason.

The Thunder have at least been good defensively of late, even in some of their losses. Since Milwaukee isn’t much of a threat offensively, this should be a pretty good matchup for the Thunder and they should bounce back with a win tonight.

The game will tip at 8:30 p.m. EST.

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Tags: Milwaukee Bucks Oklahoma City Thunder

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