Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 9-10
(Likely) Inactives: Joe Alexander, Francisco Elson and Michael Redd
Boston Celtics (Doc Rivers) 16-4
(Likely) Inactives: Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels and Tony Allen
Game time: 6:30 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Rajon Rondo
Rondo is one of those point guards who doesn’t shoot very well, only it doesn’t matter because he’s so freaking good. He’s nearly as quick as anyone in the league and has terrific size and athleticism for a point guard. He takes over half of his shots at the time and hits 69 percent of them. That’s a recipe for disaster for the Bucks defense … unless they can foul him before he finishes. When I say Rondo can’t shoot, it really is clear when you take a look at his free throw percentage. A career 62 percent shooter, Rondo is down to 40.6 this year. For a point guard! Some how he’s only shooting a touch over one per game despite taking it to the rack being his preferred offense. After passing to Allen and KG that is. It will be a tough night for Brandon Jennings, as Rondo is also the league leader in steals per game at 2.5.
Carlos Delfino vs. Ray Allen
Whenever I think about Michael Redd’s sudden decline, I think it’s a combination of injuries and age. Basketball is a young man’s game, so when a player hits his thirties, a lot of things start to go. Ray Allen, 34, may now just be finding that out. Allen is shooting a career low 32 percent from three this year and averaging the fewest points he’s averaged since his rookie year. That being said, he could still probably roll off eight consecutive three’s at any point in time. His shot mechanics are so smooth and seem so effortless that his shot is built to age well.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Paul Pierce
Another game, another test for LRMAM. After doing a nice job against an assist-minded Lebron James on Sunday, LRMAM will likely be matched up with Pierce for the majority of this one. It would probably serve the Bucks well to match their minutes up in a similar fashion, as LRMAM is really the only guy the Bucks have with the necessary size and quickness to stay with Pierce. As if Pierce wasn’t good enough the last few years, he’s shooting a career best 44 percent from deep this year. The Celtics are a little bit loaded with shooters. Not a good sign for the Bucks. If this one gets close in the f0urth quarter, it will definitely be fun to watch LRMAM defend Pierce though.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett used to be one of the most dangerous one on one players in the league and probably in the history of the league. And he’s still pretty good, but he’s not what he once was. Interestingly enough, almost 80 percent of Garnett’s baskets have come off assists. That means he’s shooting quickly when he gets it or getting easy feeds off penetrations to the hoop. In Garnett’s last year in Minnesota, only 60 percent of his baskets were off assists. So the key for Ilyasova tonight, will be getting out to Garnett quickly and making him put the ball on the floor. If Garnett is taken out of his comfort zones he won’t be as effective offensively. Of course, he’ll still be the defensive hearbeat and he’ll still generally act like a crazy person, but his damage offensively can be limited with effort.
Andrew Bogut vs. Kendrick Perkins
A brief description of centers that give Andrew Bogut fits: strong, long arms, good shot-blockers and large. Well, Perkins is 6’10, 280 and has shown some incredible defensive ability over the Celtics last two extended playoff runs. He’s averaging two blocks a contest this year and will probably give Bogut all sorts of fits. It seems like if Bogut’s able to get a hook or two to drop early that makes all the difference in the world, so that’s the Bucks best bet. Go to him immediately, hope he knocks something down and then ride him until he gives out. If that fails out of the gates? Then it’ll be a long night for the Bucks.
Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick, Kurt Thomas and Charlie Bell
Rasheed Wallace, Eddie House, Shelden Williams and Brian Scalabrine
Even Luke Ridnour wasn’t immune to problems last Sunday. His pull-up wasn’t falling with the same regularity it had been, but that was to be expected eventually. Guys who shoot 40 percent for their career don’t all of a sudden become 50 percent shooters over night. The Bucks seem to have been relying on him rather than having his extra production this year be like icing on a cake. Bench production has been a staple of Bucks games this year, but it won’t be easy to out produce these Celtics. Rasheed Wallace is putting up an insane amount of three’s and may have actually petitioned to change his name to Robert Horry without any of us realizing it. He still plays D though. Eddie House is doing his usual thing and the Celts are getting good minutes out of Shelden Williams, which makes sense because he must have lots of good minutes left as he never gave any of them to Atlanta or Sacramento.
Prediction: Celtics 98 – Bucks 89
The Celtics have a lot of D. Everyone busts tail and everyone has a lot to offer on defense. They’re so talented offensively that they can demoralize opponents both on both sides of the ball. Add all that to the Bucks having minimal success on the road this year and we have all the makings of a blowout. I think the Bucks might be able to keep it close for a while, but that nine point deficit I’m predicting involves some steller garbage work from the Bucks reserves.