Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 9-8
(Probable) Inactives: Michael Redd, Joe Alexander and Francisco Elson
Detroit Pistons (Jon Kuester) 6-12
(Probable) Inactives: Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton
Time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Chucky Atkins (!?)
These are like the grandfathers to the 2000 Pistons. Chucky Atkins? Ben Wallace? Atkins has been bumped into the lineup over the last couple games as a way to get Rodney Stuckey some time at the two, apparently as a method of sustaining his energy. Atkins is more a pure point guard than Stuckey or backup Will Bynum. He’s mainly in that crappy starter who gives you less than 20 minutes of non-terrible defense role. The Royal Ivey Memorial Starter if you will. At any rate, Jennings may be able to get some good looks early if he chooses. Jennings typically looks to get Bogut involved early in games though, so that may not really pay off. By the time BJ usually starts to look to get off, Atkins will be on the bench. Atkins isn’t any kind of threat on offense though, so at least BJ won’t get burned while he’s in.
Charlie Bell vs. Rodney Stuckey
Stuckey had a wonderful debut at shooting guard against the Hawks on Sunday, but not so much against the Bulls Wednesday. From 10-23 to 4-16. Handing the keys over to Stuckey hasn’t gone so smoothly this year. Despite nearly six more minutes a game, Stuckey’s assists have fallen from 4.7 to 4.1 a night. His shooting percentage has dropped under 40, which is notable for a guy who doesn’t shoot three’s. Stuckey’s game is one built on power and getting in the paint, but this year he’s hitting just 34 percent of his shots within 10 feet, down from 56 percent last year. Sounds like Brandon Jennings, only without the vision or three-point shooting.
Carlos Delfino vs. Jonas Jerebko
International flair in all it’s glory at the small forward position. Jerebko is supposedly so valuable that even when the Pistons starters return he won’t be glued to the end of the bench according to Pistons coach Jon Kuester. I guess I have a lot to learn about Jerebko, because his numbers say he absolutely should be on the bench, the far end of it. Some players play better than their numbers though, Charlie Bell has been known for one, so I won’t rule out Jerebko not sucking, but his 8.9 PER and 54 percent free throw shooting suggest otherwise.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Charlie Villanueva
Via Chuck V’s Facebook:
The antibiotics are kicking in, its helping me clear the congestion in my nasal paths. Its kinda nasty but its mainly clogged up with dry blood. I’m glad the surgery went well. Its a matter of healing now & getting use to the mask. Part of it is mental I think too.
You’re right Charlie, that is nasty. A broken nose will have Charlie V. busting out a mask for the first time Friday night. I don’t have much data to back this up, but I’d imagine first mask games aren’t easy. It must take a least a game or two to get used to those awful things. Ersan started erupting as soon as he was able to shake his. I liked this one for the Bucks before I knew Chuck was going to be rocking the mask and I like it even more now. Ersan’s relentless hustle, annoying defense and off-ball movement should give the antibiotic’d out Villanueva all kinds of issues Friday. Ersan could have a huge night on the offensive glass. Oh, and remember when Chuck turned into a money three-point shooter over his last few months in Milwaukee? Well he’s back down to 32.8 percent and is shooting more than ever. The Bucks dodged a bullet.
Andrew Bogut vs. Ben Wallace
I’m having early season flashbacks. Bogut opens the year with a poor performance against Sam Dalembert and then faces the born again Ben Wallace on the second night of the Bucks season. The results were not pretty, six points and eight rebounds on 2-7 shooting. Wallace, while not very big, is strong as hell and a smart defender to boot. The surprising athleticism and quickness he has for a man of his advanced age serves him well against Bogut. He knows how to play every center in the league and can still have success against a lot of them. Look for Wallace to attack Bogut’s left hand and try to get him out of his comfort zones on offense. I’d love to see Bogut respond to a poor game last game with a good game here. Exercising his Ben Wallace demons would be a positive step towards further establishing himself as one of the better centers in the league. At the absolute least, Bogut will need to work his hardest to keep Wallace off the offensive glass, he’s the league’s leader in offensive rebound percentage.
Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Kurt Thomas and Jodie Meeks
Ben Gordon, Will Bynum, Jason Maxiell and Kwame Brown
Gordon is the one who may decide how this game turns out. If he gets hot, all bets are off. And he can get hot. Fortunately he’s a little nicked up and struggled in his last game against Chicago. Bynum is probably the best point guard the Pistons have, even if he can be a little greedy at times. He’s built like Maurice Jones-Drew and is getting four attempts AT THE RIM a game. That’s incredible for someone his size. He could give Jennings problems in the fourth quarter. Maxiell is no longer on the table, he’s fallen off of it and Brown still sucks. The rare bench that can match the scoring prowess of Ridnour and Warrick, though Mbah a Moute’s return should help limit the Pistons effectiveness. If he returns that is.
Prediction: Bucks 96 – Pistons 88
It’s rare the Bucks have played a team with more important injuries than their own this year, but that’s the opportunity the Pistons are offering Friday night. With no Rip Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince, the Pistons have been unable to establish the defensive mindset that they’ve long used to win games. You’d think that would allow new players like Gordon and Villanueva to establish themselves and turn the Pistons into a more potent offensive squad, right? Well the Pistons rank 21st in defensive rating and 21st in offensive rating. So they aren’t getting a lot of stops and they aren’t getting much offensive either. They’re just not a very good team. Coming into the season I’m sure a lot of people thought one of these teams would be in last and one might be in second, but I’m thinking no one would have been able to play the match game and win.
The Pistons don’t have the big talented shooting guard that has been hurting the Bucks lately. If Bell is able to contain Gordon throughout this one, the Bucks should be able to limit what the Pistons do on offense and come out ahead. But limiting Ben Gordon is easier said than done.