French basketball fans get to share in the Giannis Antetokounmpo experience when the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets meet Friday in the NBA’s first-ever regular-season game in Paris.
The contest that will tip off at 3 p.m. ET will feature a Bucks team that has won seven in a row against a Hornets squad that has dropped seven straight.
The NBA has held 32 previous regular-season games outside of the United States and Canada, including a pair in Mexico City in December. The matchups south of the border saw Dallas defeat Detroit and San Antonio topple Phoenix in overtime.
The Bucks will be playing in their second such game, having won 95-79 in London over the New York Knicks on Jan. 15, 2015.
The Hornets will be making their first regular-season appearance outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Likewise, France will be formally introduced to NBA regular-season play, joining Japan (12), Mexico (11) and England (nine) in the host-country distinction.
Paris has hosted NBA preseason games, the most recent of which occurred on Oct. 6, 2010 as Minnesota defeated New York.
The French fans will see a Bucks team that has dominated the NBA regular season so far with a 39-6 record. They flew across the Atlantic riding the momentum not only of a seven-game winning streak but also of having blown out Brooklyn 117-97 and Chicago 111-98 in their two most recent games.
The latter win came without backup center Robin Lopez, who missed the game with an illness. He did not make the trip to Paris.
Antetokounmpo did, which is not good news for the Hornets. The Greek standout scored 26 points in just 20 minutes when Milwaukee trounced Charlotte 137-96 on Nov. 30.
Antetokounmpo, who expects some of his Greek fans to make the trip to France for the game, had 16 points, but no assists, when the Bucks won in London five years ago.
Khris Middleton, who had 14 points in that game, recalled basically one thing about that contest — the final result.
“Man, I feel old now thinking about that because I really don’t remember that trip too much,” Middleton admitted to reporters this week. “But I do remember winning that game. I think that’s the most important thing. When you go over there, you don’t want to lay an egg, especially for fans that have never seen a game before over there and then for yourself.
“It’s a long flight, a week out of the season, but at the same time you want to try to enjoy it, enjoy the experience.”
Charlotte coach James Borrego assured reporters this week that he was looking forward to the trip for another reason. He’s hoping a change of scenery will be good for a team that hasn’t played since a disappointing 106-83 shellacking at home at the hands of the Orlando Magic on Monday.
“I think it will be good for us,” he said. “Just to get on the road, to bond together, to experience something new. A new culture, new environment. I know that place will be loud and excited and will be a great environment.”
Devonte’ Graham had 24 points and Terry Rozier 19 in the earlier loss at Milwaukee.
–Field Level Media