Charlotte Bobcats (Larry Brown) 3-8
(Likely) Inactives: Alexis Ajinca
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 6-3
(Likely) Inactives: Andrew Bogut, Michael Redd and Joe Alexander
Game time: 7:30 (CST)
TV: FSN Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Ray Felton
Felton waited around all summer hoping he could find a team to rescue him from Bobcat mediocrity. He was unsuccessful. So now he plays on a one-year deal, hoping again he’ll be rescued after this season. He shouldn’t expect much though. Felton has virtually the exact same season every year he’s been in the NBA. I’d bet my life on it that he finishes this year with a shooting percentage of about 40, roughly six or seven assists a game, 13-15 points and a PER between 13 and 14. That’s his ceiling, but it’s also his floor. He’s a very average point guard in every sense and probably ideally a backup. I know D.J. Augustin has struggled thus far in 2009-19, but it puzzles me that they don’t throw him out there. He was better than Felton last year and has some real potential to be pretty good. Oh, because they’re the Bobcats. That’s right. It will be very interesting to see how Jennings plays in his very first game without Andrew Bogut. The Bogut/Jennings pick and roll has been one of Milwaukee’s biggest weapons to date and I don’t think he has an obviously replacement partner ready. That is unless Ersan can step up.
Charlie Bell vs. Stephen Jackson
Roughly one week after watching Brandon Jennings explode for 55 points, Stephen Jackson is back, albeit under much better circumstances. Sure the Bobcats have lost six in a row, but they still aren’t the Warriors. Jack was brought on to give the ‘Cats some offensive punch and through two games he’s done jut that, averaging nearly 20 points per game. He’s shooting a lot and at a poor percentage, but it’s likely that will come back to life. His attempts will stay high on a team that offers little else in the way of shot creation. Jackson’s first and usually second seasons don’t often sour with new teams, so expect this marriage to continue on happily at least through the rest of this year. Unless the Larry Brown factor speeds that all up.
Carlos Delfino vs. Gerald Wallace
Wallace’s nickname is “Crash” and he is the kind of player Larry Brown dreams about at night (at least when he’s showing good shot selection he is). Wallace is incredibly athletic, a great shot blocker and a threat in the passing lanes. Wallace’s shots are down this year despite playing more minutes than ever before, but his rebounds have skyrocketed. He’s averaging 11.5 boards per game and will likely cause all kinds of glass related problems all night with Bogut not in the middle clogging things up. Delfino was able to really get off for the first time last game and ideally he’ll be able to follow that up and pick up some of the offensive slack, but against Wallace that will be tough to do.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Boris Diaw
The stage is all yours E.I. With Bogut out, everyone is going to need to contribute justalittlebit more. Ersan is already the Bucks best rebounder and is quickly blossoming into one of their best defenders. Now they need him to take another step as a scoring threat. He’s an obvious answer to the question of who can run the pick and roll with Jennings in Bogut’s absence. He may not have Bogut’s touch around the rim, but he’s a huge threat to pick and pop. Think Dirk Lite. Very very lite. Diaw is always a threat as one of those perimeter oriented four’s who can make plays and pass the ball, but those guys don’t seem to bother Ilyasova.
Kuran Gadzuromas vs. Tyson Chandler
You may have heard that Andrew Bogut is out for two-four weeks and has taken a considerable amount of the excitement surrounding the Bucks early season success with him. In his place the Bucks will likely be matching up with Kurt Thomas and Dan Gadzuric. I’d think Gadz will get the start against Tyson. I’ve always said Gadz can been very good in limited minutes, but he’s no starting NBA center. If he and Thomas can give the Bucks 35 minutes of 12-12 production while Bogut’s away, they’ll have a chance to take a few more than people suspect. The Bucks may luck out and miss Chander, he’s dealing with a lower back problem and is questionable for Friday’s game. If he can’t go, Nazr Mohmmed would likely get the start for Charlotte. Coincidentally, Nazr Mohmmed is one of the answers to the question: Who makes you feel better about having Gadzuric starting with Bogut out?
Advantage: Bobcats (Assuming Chandler is in)
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick and the center who doesn’t start
D.J. Augustin, Ronald Murray, Mohmmed
The Bob’s don’t go super deep into their bench and with good reason. Augustin has fallen off a bit since a breakout rookie season and by a bit I mean he’s dropped across the board. Who knows how much of it is due to Felton’s return and Brown’s rotation shuffles, but one way or the other they need to get him back on track. Murray still scores copious amounts of points while playing a precious little amount of defense. He scorched the Bucks with the Hawks last year and could be a factor again for the usually offensively challenged Bobcats. The Bucks depth is being challenged early this year with the losses of first Michael Redd and now Bogut. This “three-deep” thing is getting an early workout and so far I can’t complain. We’ll see how the centers fare though.
Prediction: Bobcats 88 – Bucks 83
Charlotte will play some defense. They won’t allow Jennings to run free, especially without his pick and roll partner Bogut. Larry Brown will have this team prepared and focused, despite their six game losing streak coming in. This is the kind of team you hate to face. They’ll be hungry and they’ll know the Bucks are a big chance for them to get one on the road. As much as the Dallas and Denver games were tests against upper echelon teams, this is even more of a test. Can the Bucks beat a hungry team with a poor record without one of their two most important players? I’d be surprised if it doesn’t take them a game or two to figure out how to adapt to a Bogut-less line-up.