Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 15-21
Probable Inactives: Joe Alexander
Golden State Warriors (Don Nelson) 11-26
Probable Inactives: Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph and Raja Bell
Time: 9:30 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Stephen Curry
Let me throw some numbers at you
These are the monthly progressions of Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings. Player A, B and C represent Curry in the months of November, December and January in the league, while D, E and F are Jennings numbers over the same period of time. Since the start of November, Curry has been blowing Jennings out of the water as a shooter and has been equal to or better with regard to accumulating steals all season. Jennings numbers would suggest he’s the superior playmaker at this point and that seems likely, as Curry played shooting guard for the majority of his time in college. Across the board elsewhere though, Curry seems to have the edge after a considerable head start by Jennings.
Charlie Bell vs. Monta Ellis
Ellis may have a future as a marathon runner when his days in the league are up. Ellis has played 48 minutes in seven games this year, easily the largest number in the league. If he has the gas in his tank to go that long, it’s easy to see why coach Nelson hates taking him out. Ellis is taking over seven shots a night at the rim and finishing at a clip higher than 60 percent. On top of that, Ellis is getting three shots inside ten feet and hitting on 47.8 percent of those shots. So half of his Ellis’ shots come within ten feet and he’s hitting on over 50 percent of them? Is he the perfect shooting guard? Not quite, as he’s shooting only 29 percent from deep, but that’s a small flaw in an otherwise seemingly unstoppable offensive player.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Corey Maggette
Maggette has taken 69 free throws over his last five games, reaching double figures in attempts and makes in each one. His overall shot attempts per game are down about one shot this year, but Maggette is averaging more points than he did last season. He’s hitting on nearly 53 percent of his shots and has scaled back his ill fated three-point attempts. In short, Maggette is nearly as perfect an individual offensive player as there is, even if he probably doesn’t pass all that often. I long for the day the Bucks again have someone who can get to the basket with the consistency of a Maggette. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will have his hands full Friday, likely splitting his time attempting to stop Maggette and Ellis and trying to make some sort of positive impact after a few rough nights in a row.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Cartier Martin
Ilyasova comes off his most productive game in a few weeks against the Blazers, 24 points and four three’s. The opportunity will once again be there for the occasionally smooth shooting stretch four, especially with the Warriors likely to trot out a small forward that may or may not be Cartier Martin at the four. Vlad Radmonovich is doubtful for Friday’s game. Rebounds will be available for Ilyasova, I’d expect him to end this game with a double-double and probably another strong showing. The Warriors are good for that kind of thing.
Andrew Bogut vs. Andris Biedrins
Biedrins is taylor-made for this Golden State offense. He can run the court, grab rebounds, block the occasional shot and dunk the ball. He’s had some problems with injuries this year, just like most Warriors. Across the baord Biedrins numbers are down this year and injuries have really limited his minutes even when he has played. At least I’d assume it’s injuries, as it’s always possible Don Nelson just decided one day he doesn’t want to play his best big man anymore. Bogut is 10-29 on the current road trip. The road trip where Michael Redd has been gone and the Bucks have needed Bogut to take his game to another level, preferably a level up and not a level down. Double teams have been running at Bogut, but his assist numbers don’t exactly reflect that he’s been finding the open man in those situations, with one in each of his last three games. Bogut has struggled as much as anyone in each of the last three games and I’m sure he’s awaiting a return home more eagerly than most.
Hakim Warrick, Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas, Jodie Meeks and Carlos Delfino
Anthony Morrow, Devean George, C.J. Watson and Chris Hunter
Golden State is not entirely unlike Portland in that they ride their starters hard since the injury bug has bit them often this year. Of their bench players, I’d expect Morrow to see the most minutes and have the most impact; he’s one of the league’s very best three-point shooters. The Bucks bench has been carrying the load on this Western conference trip so far, bringing them back after the starters dig a hole and generally attempting to keep things interesting. Meeks has the most to gain right now, another few stellar performances could vault him into the starting lineup or at least guarantee him steady minutes for the first time all year. He’s still yet to perform in anything other than a blowout, but at least was getting buckets early against Portland.
Prediction: Warriors 118 – Bucks 100
I was hoping the Bucks would at least keep it close against Portland after a hard fought comeback against the Suns, but they couldn’t do that. Is there anything for the Bucks to feel good about coming into this game? Possibly Jodie Meeks, but that’s about it. The Warriors are the 28th ranked defensive team in the league, but the Bucks have mastered the art of self-defense; they do a great job defending themselves. I don’t expect another sub-40 percent shooting night for Milwaukee, but I do expect the Warriors to pile the points on a Bucks team that has been getting hit hard early recently.
If the Bucks can find a way to stop Monta Ellis and prevent the Warriors many proficient shooters from knocking down open looks, they’ll have a chance. The Warriors defense may be the medicine an ailing Bucks offense needs, but the Warriors haven’t had many home games this year and traditionally have one of the best crowds in the league. Given the way the Bucks have played on the road this year, that spells trouble.