Golden State Warriors (Don Nelson) 2-5
(Likely) Inactives: Brandon Wright, Devean Geroge and Speedy Claxton
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 4-2
(Likely) Inactives: Michael Redd, Joe Alexander, Francisco Elson
Game time: 7:30 (11/14/09)
TV: Fox Sports Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Monta Ellis
(snicker) The Warriors passed on Brandon Jennings (snicker). I know, it’s impossible to predict the future, but did they really expect a Monta Ellis-Stephen Curry backcourt to hold up defensively? Ellis balked at the idea from the get and now Curry is on the bench. Warriors basketball. Ellis isn’t a real classic point guard, he’s similar to Louis Williams from Philly, but Ellis is better. He’s not a great shooter from deep, but Ellis seems to be creeping in on regaining the great touch on mid range jumpers he had two years ago. Two years ago Ellis shot 44% on 16-23 feet, last year that fell to 25%. He’s back up to 33% this year and will likely improve as he gets further from the ankle injury he suffered last year. Ellis’ assists are up to a career high 5.6 per game, but his turnovers are piling up at over three a game. The Bucks have been forcing turnovers with success this year and may look to capitalize on Ellis’ looseness with the ball.
Charlie Bell vs. Anthony Morrow
It’s time I give Chuck Bell some credit. Bell’s hitting three’s at a near 44% clip this year. Sure, he’s only taken 16, but that just means he knows what’s a good shot and what’s not. Bell is a +46 this year, by far the best number on the team and Bell’s defense has been better than it has in a few years, thanks to what looks like better health. One thing really holding Bell back from having a better year has been his penchant for turning the ball over. He leads the regulars in turnover percentage (an estimate of turnovers per 100 plays) with over 23%. This number is nearly double anything he’s done with the Bucks, so I’d expect him to come back to Earth on that, he’s too smart a player. Morrow is the best shooter in the NBA and another rookie free agent find for Golden State. Bell’s going to have to stick to him whenever he’s in, but fortunately for the Bucks Morrow is on Golden State. They probably won’t pass him the ball anyway, he’s only attempted 25 three’s through seven games (hitting 60%!).
Carlos Delfino vs. Kalenna Azubuike
Azubuike was an undrafted free agent four years ago and fourth in the league in three point percentage last year. This year he’s been one of the Warriors few bright spots, shooting nearly 53% from the field. In addition, Azubuike is blocking over a shot a game and grabbing five rebounds. He’s a very strong, if short, small forward and can finish around the rim. A potential problem looming for him? He doesn’t pass the ball. He’s averaging less than one assist per game and has assisted on about four percent of plays while he’s been on the court. In comparison, Delfino’s assist rate is about ten percent. I guess that’s life on the Warriors. Delfino will likely be glad to be matched up with Azubuike though, after a grueling match-up last game with Carmelo Anthony that saw him in foul trouble all evening.
Hakim Warrick vs. Stephen Jackson
Jackson requests to be traded every day. Nelson responds by screwing with his playing time if he notices anything about Jackson’s game he doesn’t like. Jackson played 18 minutes against the Pacers and Nelson attributed hit to a sore hip. Jackson’s response? “Why would my hip hurt?” We don’t know Jack. Jackson could give Hak Warrick some problems the way Danilo Gallinari did at the start of the Knicks game. Jack is hitting about 35% of his three’s on the year and is a handful on the perimeter. If he gets hot early, expect a Ersan Ilyasova sighting. Either way the Bucks have a big advantage on the boards here, but lack on the perimeter.
Advantage: Warriors (if Jack shows up)
Andrew Bogut vs. Mikki Moore
Andris Biedrins is out and Ronny Turiaf is likely out. Biedrins did not make the road trip, while Turiaf may be back by Saturday if his knee feels better. Without those two, the Warriors are in for a long night against Bogut. Every game has been better than the last this year for Bogut. He’s shown few ill effects from the back injury that cut short his season last year and has taken on a leadership role with gusto. What’s been most impressive in the effeciency with which he is scoring: his last four games have consisted of three in which he went 8-14 and one when his final line was 10-15. Skiles has said he wants to see around 15 shots a game for Bogut, so he’s got to be thrilled. And as a bonus, Bogut is nine for his last nine from the free throw line! As for Moore, the fact that he’s on team number ten probably says all you need to know about him.
Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Luke Ridnour, Dan Gadzuric and Jodie Meeks
Anthony Randolph, CJ Watson, Corey Maggette, Stephen Curryand Acie Law
To be honest, no one ever knows who Don Nelson will and won’t start. He’s said he wanted to leave Kelenna Azubuike in the lineup for a while, so I’d guess he’ll start, after that it’s a toss-up. The constant line-up changes are just one of many things he’s done to wear on this team. Through this whole mess of a season, one positive development has been the play of Anthony Randolph. In his last four games (before Friday) he’s averaged two steals and a block and a half to go along with double figure points and nine rebounds. He’s looked solid in the center position, despite being 200 pounds. I don’t expect him to have success if he’s matched up with an Andrew Bogut down low though. Curry hasn’t had a stellar start to the year, but he doesn’t look like the gunner he was in summer league and at Davidson. That’s a good development for the sake of his career. A bad development? He’s on the Warriors and has already been bounced out of the starting line-up.
Prediction: Bucks 106 – Warriors 90
Remember the Knicks game last Saturday? I’m sure the Bucks do and I’m sure they’re looking to replicate that effort. The Warriors are an absolute mess. They have players begging to be traded, players fighting with coaches, agents blasting the organization and it’s all affecting their play on the court. They are already dealing with the possibility that their season is spiraling out of control faster than they can handle. The Warriors have a good collection of talent, but nothing roping these guys together. The chemistry is terrible and it starts from the top down. Another team from the West on a long trip and another bad team. This has trap game written all over it with the Mavericks coming in Monday, but the Bucks shouldn’t be a team looking past anyone. Thus far I have no reason to believe they will.