Ah, Dwyane Wade’s return to Milwaukee. The time that Marquette only fans become NBA fans for the day and venture down the the Bradley Center for their one Bucks game of the year. Coincidentally (or not) it’s also when I hope the Bucks play their best game of the season and convert a fan here or there to the NBA game. Believe it or not, that rarely happens and I’m often left hearing my Marquette fan friends inform me that the NBA still sucks and that Wade may or may not be a reincarnate of Jesus.
Anyway, it’s a back to back with the Heat, so no preview Monday, instead I have something else planned. So be sure to stop back. I may even have something for you Dwyane Wade fans.
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 19-25
(Probable) Inactives: Francisco Elson, Michael Redd and Joe Alexander
Miami Heat (Erik Spoelstra) 24-22
(Probable) Inactives: Yakhouba Diawara and Michael Beasley
Date: 1/30/2010 & 2/1/2010
Time: 7:30 (CST) & 6:30 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin x 2
Brandon Jennings vs. Rafer Alston
Miami looked far and wide for a veteran point guard to guide them through this season after general dissatisfaction with the play of second year guard Mario Chalmers through the early parts of the season. Chalmers has seen his minutes dip with each passing month and Miami now seems more content to get 30 minutes of just as mediocre play out of the veteran Alston. It doesn’t really matter who Miami trots out as the supposed point guard next to Dwyane Wade anyway, because Wade’s going to have the ball in his hands the majority of the time when the game begins to matter anyway. I’ve always been a proponent of having a deadeye shooter at the point guard spot next to a player like Wade. All they really need out of their point guards is shooting and defense, two things Alston doesn’t do very well.
Charlie Bell vs. Dwyane Wade
Its Wade’s world in Miami as the Heat guard leads the NBA in usage at 35.09 percent. That means when he’s on the court, Wade uses roughly 35 percent of the Heat’s offensive possessions. In comparison, Brandon Jennings leads the Bucks in usage at 27.34, or nearly eight percent less than Wade. So if you thought Jennings had the ball a lot, wait till you see D-Wade. Of course, the upside to having the ball in Wade’s hands is what he typically does with it, and that’s put it in the basket. Wade’s averaging over 27 points a game and is taking seven shots at the rim nightly, terrific numbers for a shooting guard. The knock I’d have on Wade is that he’s shooting three times a game from the three-point arc, that’s three wasted shots as he’s hitting at just a 30 percent clip from deep on the year. The more threes Wade takes, the better the Bucks will feel.
Carlos Delfino vs. Quentin Richardson
Despite being traded every 20 minutes this off-season, Richardson has settled in nicely as the designated shooter in Miami. All but 97 of his 273 shots this year have come from outside the three-point line and he’s hit 39.2 percent of his threes. So the Bucks are going to want to run out on Richardson and make him put the ball on the ground here and there. I’m assuming he’s forgotten what to do once he’s forced to do that. Richardson seems the perfect patsy for Delfino to continue his stellar month of January on though, so that’s exciting.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Joel Anthony
Anthony has spent a lot of time over the years playing center for the Heat and helps make for a rather lengthy Miami front line. Fortunately, he isn’t and never has been and probably never will be very good offensively. Mbah a Moute will likely have free reign to gamble if he so chooses. The Bucks will likely find a way to have LRMAM spend some of his floor time guarding Wade anyway. Anthony’s primary role is as a shot-blocker where he can actually be quite effective. With him an O’Neal down low, the Bucks may have their share of struggles at the rim.
Advantage: Bucks (but really has there been a worse match-up all year than these two?)
Andrew Bogut vs. Jermaine O’Neal
Every time you find yourself cursing the world because the Bucks have paid far too much money for the services of Michael Redd, just remember that O’Neal is being paid $23 million this year to be an average player. Once a feared shot-blocker with a finesse offensive game, O’Neal is a shell of his former self and hasn’t even blocked many shots this year. He does shoot a high percentage from nearly everywhere on the court though and could give Bogut problems if he’s hitting midrange shots that pull the Aussie away from the hoop. Bogut should be able to use his size to pound O’Neal inside and get off his baby hooks without much of an issue.
Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas, Ersan Ilyasova, Hakim Warrick and Jerry Stackhouse
Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, James Jones, Jamal Magloire and Mario Chalmers
Miami has a little bit of everything on their bench, but none of it is that good. Magloire is big and bad, but also quite literally bad as well. Haslem has a very nice midrange game and has always seemed every bit the player David West is to me, just in a situation that doesn’t exploit his advantages enough. Jones can shoot every now and then and Wright is an athlete who supposedly can play basketball, but there are holes in that story. Milwaukee absolutely has the edge in this match-up and could pull away any time Dwyane Wade isn’t in the game.
Prediction: Bucks 98 – Heat 91
As bad as Miami is, it’s hard to expect them to go quietly with Dwyane Wade on their team. Not one other Miami player strikes me as so much as above average, but Wade is so terrific that he makes up for nearly all their flaws when he’s playing with passion. That would explain the schizophrenic nature of this Heat team, which can lose by 30 and win by 30 a night apart. That’s not exactly the kind of team that’s fun to play on a back to back. The Bucks have played with more consistency lately and it’s translated into better play if not better results. Against a middling Heat team, Milwaukee has an opportunity for success staring them in the face.