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Three keys for the Warriors to beat Bucks on Christmas

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James Wiseman was an 8-year-old boy the last time the Warriors opened back-to-back seasons with consecutive losses. That was in 2009.

On Christmas Day, the rookie center will take the floor in Milwaukee trying to avoid that bit of unwelcome trivia.

He’ll have plenty of company, but the oddsmakers don’t think Wiseman and his teammates have enough to take down the Bucks, who are 10-point favorites.

The Warriors have won their last three games in Milwaukee -- they did make the trip last season -- but once again they are without firebrand defensive star Draymond Green.

He definitely will be missed.

Tipoff at Fiserv Forum is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Here are three keys to victory for the Warriors:

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Contain Giannis

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA MVP in each of the last two seasons, is coming off a painful opening-night loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. With the Bucks down two and less than a second remaining, he went to the line and missed what would have been the game-tying free throw. Good night.

So, yes, he’ll be highly motivated to make amends in the home opener.

Fired-up players tend to be vulnerable to foul trouble. That should be the goal. Nothing would brighten the Warriors’ day more than to see him heading to the bench five minutes after tipoff with two fouls. Or sitting for much of the second quarter with three fouls.

 

The Warriors are not going to “stop” Giannis. But he can be his own worst enemy, and they can use that to their advantage.

Wiggins bounces back

Andrew Wiggins’ opened his season Tuesday with a dreadful first quarter, missing a wide variety of open shots and committing a few careless fouls. He never found a rhythm.

If he flips that script, commanding attention on offense and making an impact on defense, the Warriors can compete. He should be excited to challenge Milwaukee’s All-Star forwards, Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo. The goal is to make them work hard on both ends.

What’s needed from Wiggins? An efficient scoring night, with at least 25 points. And also, seven or eight rebounds, four or five assists, two or three steals and at least one impactful defensive sequence.

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Generate offense through defense

Halfcourt offense will be tough because the Bucks will do the wise thing and devote most of their defensive energy to controlling Steph Curry. He’ll see a gaggle of defenders, including a lot of Jrue Holiday, a tremendous defender making his home debut as a member of the Bucks.

So, the best chance for the Warriors to launch their offense is with defense. By forcing inefficient shots and turnovers, it gives Curry opportunities for transition 3-balls. It unlocks the transition games of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Wiggins. It opens the possibility of lobs to Wiseman. 

Oubre against Bucks shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo is an exploitable matchup in halfcourt sets. But Milwaukee plays solid team defense, and Giannis is fabulous at giving help.