Orlando Magic (Stan Van Gundy) 12-4
(Likely) Inactives: Jameer Nelson
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 8-6
(Likely) Inactives: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Joe Alexander and Andrew Bogut
Game time: 7:30 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Jason Williams
No one will be happier to be home than Brandon Jennings. Jennings has struggled bad this year on the road, averaging 28.7 points and 6.1 assists on 57.9 percent shooting to just 16.4 points and 5.1 assists on the road at a mere 35 percent clip. Williams doesn’t represent the same tough challenge Jennings has faced over his last three games in Tony Parker, Darren Collsion and Russell Westbrook either. The combination of returning hom and facing a backup point guard should hopefully rejuvenate Jennings and allow him to regain his aggressiveness and scoring touch. The Bucks dodge another starting point guard in this one, as Jameer Nelson is out for about a month after a knee injury.
Advantage: BucksShooting Guard
Michael Redd vs. Vince Carter
Redd returned to the starting lineup Friday night only to struggle once again. He finished with nine points, failing to hit double digits for a second time since he’s returned to active duty after a knee injury. Redd hasn’t looked good at all, but it’s tough to say if it’s ill effects from the knee injury or trouble meshing with Brandon Jennings. I’d think injury since Jennings has seemed easy enough to play with, but it’s hard for any player to go from focal point to afterthought while they are out. Carter is still averaging nearly 20 points a night and in the Magic offense he’s getting to shoot more three-point shots than ever before. He must be ecstatic shooting nearly six a night. While his shooting percentage has dipped overall a little this year, he’s hitting three’s at nearly a 40 percent clip and will likely give the Bucks fits like Durant and Anthony before him if LRMAM doesn’t play.
Carlos Delfino vs. Mickael Pietrus
I don’t get Scott Skiles substitution pattern with regard to Delfino. Does he ever play in the second quarter or am I just missing something? It seems like no matter how well he plays early, he drops out of the game rarely to be seen again after the first quarter. Delfino had 13 points in the first quarter Friday night, but only shot the ball once or twice more the rest of the game. I don’t think he needs to be featured more in the game plan by any means, but it seems like inconsistent minutes will result in inconsistent production. Pietrus is a super-athletic defensive type that can dunk and hit the three-point shot. That describes nearly everyone on the Magic roster except JJ Redick.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Rashard Lewis
Lewis hasn’t had the touch from deep since returning from a ten game steroid suspension to start the year, shooting just 20 percent from downtown this year, but could find it at any time. He’ll be a difficult match-up for Ilyasova with his length and quickness on the perimeter. Lewis would be the ultimate realization of talent for Ilyasova, a stretch four who can get to the basket and knock it down from behind the arc with regularity. Add Ilyasova’s defensive prowess against most four men and he’d be a beast if he were to develop Lewis-like skills. I’m not sure he will, but it’s something to hope for. Ilyasova is coming off another double double and seemed to be one of the only Bucks to really want to be aggressive Friday. He’ll need to bring that mindset against Orlando and hit the boards hard again.
Dan Gadzuric vs. Dwight Howard
Mismatch alert. Howard is too big, strong and fast for everyone in the league and the Bucks are no different. He’ll have a good shot at a 20/20 game against the Bucks weak front court Saturday night and could have a double double in the first half. I’m already getting worried about the things he’s going to do to some of the Bucks layup attempts.
Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hakim Warrick and Kurt Thomas
Redick, Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson, Marcin Gortat and Anthony Johnson
The problem with the Magic is that they are as deep as they are talented. Anderson is a serious threat from deep, as is Redick and same with Barnes. Any one of them can come in and burn teams off the bench. Warrick had an okay game Friday, but misses a lot of layups. If he’s not dunking I never feel good about him finishing. It’s hard for him being so skinny to finish with contact it seems. Usually the Bucks second unit can keep them in games, they were responsible for the Bucks run in the second quarter Friday night, but it wont’ be easy against the Magic bench on Saturday.
Prediction: Magic 112 – Bucks 96
Given the way the Bucks have struggled to defend over the last few games, I don’t feel great about this one. The Magic have a certifiable center in Howard who needs to be doubled with regularity. His ability to draw defenses and the kick it out to the never-ending string of shooters on the Magic should give the Bucks fits the way Matt Bonner did on Monday for the Spurs. The Magic have six or seven potential Bonner’s in their lineup though. An ugly thought.