Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 7-3
(Likely) Inactives: Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Joe Alexander
Memphis Grizzlies (Lionel Hollins) 4-8
(Likely) Inactives: Trey Glider, Darrell Arthur
Game time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Mike Conley
Poor Mike Conley. He gets drafted by one of the worst franchises in recent sports history, loses playing time to two other young point guard with less talent and upside than him in his first two seasons, finally sees them shipped off and responds with a decent stretch of games and then sees his owner/GM sign a guy who essentially demands a starting point guard role, despite being 34 and without a future. Is that the exact opposite of how to develop a young point guard? Conley may have an actual future in the league, but it won’t be realized with Memphis.
Charlie Bell vs. O.J. Mayo
I just feel bad for the young players on Memphis. They aren’t a great fit together and the organization seems hell-bent on preventing them from ever developing or having success. Mayo was one of everyone’s favorite rookies last year, a shooting guard with point guard instincts. Now he has to watch Zach Randolph come down the court, hog the ball, bog down the offense and then play no defense. Mayo’s assist percentage has dropped from 15 last year to 12 this year. The ball movement in Memphis has suffered from Randolphitis. Mayo has a ton of talent and can stroke it from outside though and is a threat to drop 30 on any given night. Too bad he’s never had a veteran like Charlie Bell to learn the little things from, then he’d be on the right track. Oh, that’s right, he plays in Memphis and they don’t sign players over 30 unless they will damage the team’s chemistry and make no sense.
Carlos Delfino vs. Rudy Gay
Gay has been one of the only Memphis players to emerge from the muck of their franchise and have a shot at escaping with success. He’ll be a restricted free agent next year and will be looking for a contract starting in the $10-15 million range. The problem with that? No one really knows what Rudy Gay is. Is he a stats only player or does he know what it takes to win games? Gay can do almost anything on the court and may be showing subtle signs of maturity actually. He’s cut his three’s down to two a game and bumped his field goal percentage up over 50 percent. Little things like that are what separate winners from stat guys, so it’s possible he’s on the right track. Regardless, he’s a handful to deal with every night and makes me hope Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be back, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Zach Randolph
I’ll tell you how this one will go. Randolph will end the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Ersan will out-hustle him to five or six extra boards and will frustrate him into working harder than he wants for those numbers. Ersan will put in a few tip shots on the offensive glass and will outplay Randolph in the fourth quarter. Ersan’s play will be the main reason for the Bucks win tonight. I think.
Dan Gadzuric vs. Marc Gasol
Gasol is quietly having a terrific year. He hits the glass hard, he plays smart, he’s a good passer and he actually looks like a grizzly bear. He’s perfect for this team. What drives me insane is that he’s only getting nine shots each night. He’s shooting 60 percent from the field and has nice touch inside, but they can only find nine shots a night for him? This is like when Andrew Bogut first joined the Bucks and he’d post up to no avail on a nightly basis, but only if Bogut shot 60 percent then. He’s going to be a load to keep off the glass and will really challenge the Bucks, the best rebounding team in the NBA. A key stat against Charlotte on Friday was that the Bucks only allowed two offensive boards all night, that will be an important focus point again on Saturday.
Kurt Thomas, Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick, Jodie Meeks and LRMAM (?)
Jamaal Tinsley, Demare Carroll, Sam Young and Hasheem Thabeet
The Grizzlies took Hasheem Thabeet second overall. Yikes. They probably could have done better and virtually everyone knew that right away. Tinsley is the veteran chemistry problem de’jour and Carroll and Young are capable rookie bench guys who might have a future had they not ended up on the Grizzlies. Hopefully for their sake they can find new homes in a year or two. Ridnour has been incredible all season and expect him to have a nice day against the Grizzlies rotating awful point guards. With Bogut out the Bucks need all the offense they can get.
Prediction: Bucks 104 – Memphis 101
The young players on Memphis are like a walking advertisement for having veterans on to help young players win a few games so they know what winning is like. How can a team ever expect their young guys to develop when they haven’t seen what it takes to win in the NBA? Is Rudy Gay all-of-a-sudden going to know the sacrifice it takes to become a champion? Is O.J. Mayo magically going to see how many hours before the game he needs to get to the gym to work on his game? Some guys are naturally made-up with those gifts (see Jennings, Brandon) but most aren’t. They need stability and guidance. Two things they don’t have in abundance in Memphis. The Grizz do come in riding high on a three-game winning streak though, so it’ll be important for Jennings to continue his brilliance and take charge early to get the Grizz thinking loss.