New Jersey Nets (Lawrence Frank) 0-11
(Likely) Inactives: Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian and Keyon Dooling (but there are about six guys to choose from for these three spots)
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 5-3
(Likely) Inactives: Michael Redd, Francisco Elson and Joe Alexander
Game time: 7:00 (CST)
Brandon Jennings vs. Rafer Alson
Skip is no longer the lightening quick, all handle-no shot, playground legend he was when he first entered the league as a Milwaukee Buck, but he can still hold his own. Over the years he’s actually worked his way into being an adequate three-point shooter and is shooting nearly 40% from deep this year. And the other day he even recorded his very first triple double, so there has been some upside to the rash of injuries that have left the Nets battered, bruised and winless. It would have been something to watch Devin Harris match quickness with Jennings. Maybe next time.
Charlie Bell vs. Courtney Lee
Lee didn’t play against the Pacers Tuesday, but has been practicing since last Thursday. I’m thinking he might give it a go against the Bucks Wednesday night. Lee was the Nets centerpiece in the Vince Carter to Orlando deal they made over the summer and figures to be an important player for them going forward. He’s averaging almost 12 points per game, but is shooting 31% from the field and a grotesque 13% from deep. That’s not exactly what they expected from him when they included Ryan Anderson to make Lee to Jersey happen. With all the injuries the Nets have had this year, it’s possible Lee’s been gutting it out through some minor stuff though, so benefit of the doubt he’ll receive. Lee can still contribute at the defensive end and his numbers remain strong there. Alas, an injured Courtney Lee is not greater than what the Bucks will throw out there.
Carlos Delfino vs. Terrance Williams
Williams, a polished four-year product of Louisville surely has been providing terrific play as the result of all of his college basketball seasoning, right? Wrong. He’s been turning the ball over on 11.5% of his possessions (nearly Chuck Bell numbers), shooting 33% from the field and taking 12 shots per game. I don’t fault him for shooting too much, the Nets have virtually no one else that can play right now. But how does a guy with his talent shoot so poorly? Well, he’s shooting 44% at the rim and NINE PERCENT from ten feet and in. 9%! WOW. I can’t even criticize that, that’s pure luck. No way can a player with Williams skills and size that plays in the NBA consistently shoot so poorly from inside ten feet. So he’s had some bad luck thus far and could even start to turn it around against Milwuakee.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Trenton Hassell
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it sure looks like Ersan will get his first start of the year against the Nets. And it make sense. Hakim Warrick has been struggling since becoming a starter and had success off the bench. He’s more comfortable against the other teams backups, he can be more of a focal point with the second unit and his aggressiveness will return. Ersan’s style can fit with anyone. He waits for open looks, he crashes the boards and he plays pesky defense. Perfect for the starting lineup or the bench. He’ll have a favorable match-up in this one regardless of who covers him. The Nets are playing without our old friend Yi Jianlian and likely without Eduardo Najera. Size has been an issue for the Nets starting five since they went down.
Andrew Bogut vs. Brook Lopez
When Bogut sees Lopez I’m sure his first thought will be, “Finally. I was getting sick of chasing guys around the perimeter.” Bogut’s had a couple of rough defensive games chasing Mikki Moore, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden around 20 feet from the basket. I’m sure it will feel nice facing a back-to-the-basket center. Even if it is Lopez. Lopez, drafted after Joe Alexander, has been terrific since arriving on the scene last year. He hasn’t missed a game and leads the Nets in PER, points, blocks, rebounds and complaints to the refs. Lopez is a Tim Duncan in training when it comes to problems with the referees.
Warrick, Luke Ridnour, Jodie Meeks, Dan Gadzuric and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Bobby Simmons, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Sean Williams and Josh Boone
Douglas-Roberts was a man on Tuesday night, grabbing 12 boards to go along with 27 points. If Lee doesn’t play, he’ll start and give Charlie Bell all kinds of problems. Simmons can still hit an occasional three-point shot and is still under the contract he received from Larry Harris to help destroy the Bucks. Simmons hit a couple clutch threes against the Bucks last year and then topped it off by having words for Milwaukee’s bench and then losing the game. Nice, Bob. Sean Williams is playing 11 minutes per game for a team that at times this year has only had eight guys. Translation: Lawrence Frank doesn’t trust/like him. Boone is clumsy. That’s all I got for him.
Prediction: Bucks 96 – Nets 89
The Bucks defense has to come back one of these days right? When is a better time than against the 0-11 Nets? What worries me, is that the Nets have to win eventually and the Bucks are still probably the Bucks around the league. I’d expect to see them come out with some fire, second night of a back to back be damned. Defensive intensity has been non-existent for the Bucks in recent first quarters, so an expected line-up switch may help quell that issue. The Bucks have this game and then the Bobcats on Friday, aka two games they absolutely need to win. You have to dominate the bad teams at home if you want to be considered playoff contenders.