For the second time this month, the Brooklyn Nets face the team with the NBA’s best record, Saturday visiting the Milwaukee Bucks at their new Fiserv Forum.
The Brooklyn Nets have precious little time to lick their wounds from Friday’s 100-87 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, as they have an early 5 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. local) tip Saturday as they visit the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks (24-10) have the NBA’s best winning percentage at .706 … and trail the Toronto Raptors by a half-game in the Eastern Conference, thanks to the vagaries of scheduling. The Raptors are 26-11 and are slightly behind the Bucks with a .703 winning percentage.
Milwaukee comes into Saturday with two consecutive wins after sweeping a home-and-home with the New York Knicks and has won six of its last seven overall and plays the second of six straight games at their new arena, Fiserv Forum, where they are 15-3 this season.
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Brooklyn (17-20) has won nine of its last 11 and remained in ninth place in the East after Friday’s loss, trailing the eighth-place Detroit Pistons by one game and the Hornets and Miami Heat, tied at sixth and seventh in the conference, by 1½ games.
This is the second time this month the Nets have faced the team that held the NBA’s best record at the time. They beat Toronto at Barclays Center in overtime on Dec. 7, the game that launched their current hot stretch.
This is the first meeting of the season between the Nets and Bucks and Brooklyn’s first-ever visit to Fiserv Forum, which officially opened on Aug. 26. The $535 million facility seats 17,500 and replaced 30-year-old BMO Harris Bradley Center as Milwaukee’s home.
The transformation of the Bucks from playoff team to Eastern Conference contender has been facilitated by new coach Mike Budenholzer, who has transformed the Bucks from a team that was reluctant to shoot the 3 under former coach Jason Kidd and struggled to defend the corner 3.
This season, Milwaukee is second in the NBA, averaging 39,3 3-point attempts per game, and is defending the 3 at a 35.7 percent clip — still only 20th in the NBA, but improved from last season, when they ranked 25th against the deep ball.
The Nets, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from one of their worst performances of the season Friday night at Charlotte, when they set season lows with 87 points and 14.8 percent shooting from 3-point range and had their second-lowest assist total — 15 — of the season.
Here are three things to watch a the Nets and Bucks tangle for the first time in 2018-19.