Milwaukee Bucks (50-16) vs. Spurs (37-29)
When, where: Sunday, 7 p.m., AT&T Center
Last season: Bucks won series 2-0
All-time series record: Spurs lead 48-40
Season series: Bucks lead 1-0
Last meeting: Bucks 135, Spurs 129, Nov. 24, Milwaukee
Bucks' last game: Beat Hornets 131-114, Saturday, Charlotte
Spurs' last game: Beat Hawks 111-104, Wednesday, Atlanta
Bucks' last 10 games/streak: 8-2, won two
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 5-5, won four
Bucks' injury/inactive report: Guard Sterling Brown (right wrist soreness), out; guard George Hill (left groin strain), out; forward Christian Wood (G League assignment), out..
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Drew Eubanks (G League assignment), out; forward Rudy Gay (illness), questionable; Chimezie Metu (G League assignment), out; forward Ben Moore (G League assignment), out; point guard Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament), out; guard Lonnie Walker IV (G League assignment), out.
Notable: Sunday's game marks the return to San Antonio of veteran forward/center Pau Gasol, who agreed to a contract buyout with the Spurs on March 1 and signed with Milwaukee two days later . . . Spurs are eighth in the Western Conference standings, a half-game behind the No. 7 Los Angeles Clippers (38-29) and 3.5 games ahead of No. 9 Sacramento (33-32) for the last playoff spot in the West. If the postseason started Wednesday, the Silver and Black would play defending champion Golden State . . . The Silver and Black have 16 games left in the regular season, nine at home and seven on the road. After meeting Milwaukee, the Spurs play at Dallas on Tuesday and open a four-game home stand Friday against the New York Knicks. They also will host Portland (Saturday), Golden State (Monday, March 18) and Miami (Wednesday, March 20 . . . Derrick White had 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and six blocks in Wednesday's win in Atlanta. The only other guard in NBA to post those numbers was Tracy McGrady in 2000 . . . The Spurs are the only NBA team with an all-time winning record against every team in the league. They lead the series with Milwaukee 48-40.
SAN ANTONIO – Back in the friendly confines of the AT&T Center last week, the Spurs knocked off two of the top three teams in the Western Conference in back-to-back games.
On Sunday, the Silver and Black will have an opportunity to beat another of the NBA’s best teams when they host the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead the East and have the best record (50-16) in the league.
“They’re the best team in the league right now – offensively, defensively, best record – so this will be a good challenge for us,” Spurs point guard Derrick White said Saturday after practice. “We’ve got to step up and meet the challenge.”
San Antonio downed Oklahoma City 116-102 on March 2, and Denver 104-103 two nights later. Denver is No. 2 in the West and OKC was third when it lost to the Spurs.
The Silver and Black have had three days to rest after beating the Hawks 111-104 Wednesday in Atlanta for their fourth straight win. Sunday’s game will be the second night of a back-to-back for Milwaukee, which beat the Hornets 131-114 Saturday in Charlotte on Saturday.
The Bucks, who lead second-place Toronto by three games in the Eastern Conference standings, rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Spurs 135-129 on Nov. 24 in Milwaukee. The Bucks have beaten San Antonio four consecutive times, but the Silver and Black won nine in a row in the series before that.
All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo sparked Milwaukee’s comeback against the Spurs in their first meeting this season, scoring 11 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter. Antetokounmpo also finished with 14 rebounds.
White was asked about San Antonio’s defensive game plan to slow down Antetokounmpo.
“Show him a crowd,” he said. “One on one is tough, so whoever is on him, you’ve got to help him out and try to keep him (Antetokounmpo) out of the paint.”
One of the most dominant players in the league, Antetokounmpo is averaging 27 points, 12.6 rebounds, and six assists and is shooting 58 percent from the field. He hit 9 of 16 shots in the win and dished out eight assists in the win over the Spurs in November.
“We’ve just to come out right off the bat and play aggressive,” said Spurs forward Davis Bertans, who had 17 points off the bench in the loss. “Try to show as much crowd as possible in front of Giannis, and not let him get the easy baskets.
“It’s all team defense. I don’t think you can just put one guy on defense and tell him to guard him. And good luck. We all have to be involved. We have to help. It has to be a full team defense.”
DeMar DeRozan led the Silver and Black in the loss, scoring 34 points and distributing seven assists. Bryn Forbes and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 and 15 points, respectively.
The Bucks hit 12 of their first 13 shots to build an early 15-point lead, but the Spurs stormed back to erase the deficit in less than five minutes. The Silver and Black remember the loss in Milwaukee as a game they should have won.
“We were in the game the whole time,” Aldridge said. “We just couldn’t get a stop down the stretch.”
Only a second-year pro, White had one of the best games of his career in Wednesday night’s win over Atlanta, finishing with 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and six blocks. Only one other guard in NBA history has posted that stat line – Tracy McGrady in 2000.
White has played with a maturity beyond his years since becoming the Spurs’ point guard after Dejounte Murray sustained a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.
“His improvement, the things that he is going, it all seems effortless,” DeRozan said. “It’s pretty cool to see.”
Sunday’s game marks the return to San Antonio of veteran forward/center Pau Gasol, who agreed to a contract buyout with the Spurs on March 1 and signed with Milwaukee two days later.
“He was a great teammate here,” White said. “Did a lot for me personally, so I’m looking forward to talking with him."