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Houston Rockets vs. Milwaukee Bucks game preview

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another season of NBA basketball on The Dream Shake. Whether you’ve been here for years or it’s your first time, please feel free to join the discussion in the comments. We have a great core of regular and recurring readers, and we’re always looking to expand our little family to include you. As long as you stay nice (no personal attacks, slurs, etc.), we’re going to get along just fine. We even let you swear, unlike most other SB Nation blogs.

The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a remarkable season in which they won 60 games and owned the best record in the NBA. Led by their MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, they steamrolled the hapless Pistons, bounced back from a Game 1 loss to deliver a gentleman’s sweep to Boston, and took a 2-0 lead against the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then the Raps headed back to Canada started a run of eight wins in 10 to take the first championship in franchise history.

Make no mistake: the Bucks were the best team in the East last season by a wide margin. The Raptors got hot (Fred Van Vleet went supernova) and the rest is history. Much like the Rockets did last season, the Bucks are trying to run it back on their way to a championship. They lost Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana, and Eric Bledsoe is out to begin the year (update: he’s actually available tonight so the original timetable I saw was off), but the additions of Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, and Robin Lopez should help them stay grounded during the grind of the regular season and in the crucible of the postseason.

Milwaukee figures to be the top team in the East. Like most years, there aren’t many good teams east of the Mississippi River, but at least the East could produce a couple of contenders. The Bucks will figure prominently in the playoffs and anything short of a Finals appearance will probably be a failure. Their only real competition is Philadelphia, who will have to spend most of the season figuring out how to integrate Al Horford into a team that lost Jimmy Butler.

The TDS writers made our season predictions earlier this week and I encourage you to check those out. To boil it all down, Houston’s success this season will come down to its ability to add Russell Westbrook into the mix. Houston’s core of James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Clint Capela are joined by Russ and Danuel House, who must make a leap if Houston is to get through the crowded Western Conference.

There is some trouble brewing for Houston, as Daryl Morey’s situation will hang over the franchise for years and Mike D’Antoni works the last year of his contract. If Houston comes out of the gate slowly, there’s a possibility that Houston’s journey to a third championship could derail before it ever gets going.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on TNT