Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 21-26
Inactives: Francisco Elson, Joe Alexander and Mike Redd
New York Knicks (Mike D’antoni) 19-29
Inactives: Eddy Curry, Cuttino Mobley and Darko Milicic
Time: 6:30 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Nate Robinson
I guess Mike D’antoni wanted to spare the world the Brandon Jennings/Chris Duhon “who will miss more shots” matchup. Robinson is taking over at the point guard spot beginning Friday, which is bad timing for Milwaukee. If Duhon wasn’t the worst starting point guard in the league, he wasn’t far from the bottom. I know Jennings has struggled shooting the ball for the majority of this year, but at least he’s young, what’s Duhon’s excuse? Duhon and Jennings both shot 32 percent from the field in January, a frigid shooting percentage for a frigid month. Robinson is electric offensively, but didn’t play for 14 straight games earlier this year, for no other reason than D’Antoni wasn’t feeling him. He’s less of a point guard and more of a scorer, but he excels at that.
Charlie Bell vs. Wilson Chandler
Another long, athletic, slashing shooting guard for Charlie Bell to work on after Vince Carter gave him fits in Orlando. Every year, Chandler has taken a couple more shots at the rim each game and every year he gets a little better as a player. The more he uses his incredible athleticism to his advantage, the better he’ll be in the league. His three-point shooting has gone from average to not very good at all, so the less he’s shooting anything other than wide open shots the more opportunities he’ll give himself for success. Chandler seems more like a small forward playing the two guard spot, if they could find a good shooter to put next to him he may be even better.
Carlos Delfino vs. Jared Jeffries
A lengthy defender who can do a lot of things on defense and roughly zero things on offense, Jeffries goal Friday will likely be nothing more than to give Delfino problems. When Delfino has been on lately, the Bucks have been pretty tough to beat. In recent losses to Toronto and Orlando, Delfino couldn’t find his shot and the rest of the Bucks followed suit. Delfino is one of few Bucks that can get to the rim and is in an even more exclusive group of Bucks that can finish when they get there. Jeffries length may give Delfino some problems in getting open looks outside, so he’ll have to be ready to shoot right when he catches.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari is probably shooting a three right now. David Thorpe, when talking about the shooting prowess of Stephen Curry, recently said that he thought Curry might make the most three’s in this decade, though he conceded he’d have to vie for that crown with Gallinari. Gallinari is 6’10. As stretchy a four as stretch four’s can be is Gallinari, but that doesn’t make him a bad matchup for the Bucks. Mbah a Moute can hang with most players outside and Gallinari is no different a case. Unfortunately, the Bucks can’t go to Mbah a Moute to try and expose “The Rooster” defensively, as Mbah a Moute isn’t very good at all on offense.
Andrew Bogut vs. David Lee
Ah, here’s what we’ve been waiting to see. One all-star snub vs. another, with Bogut, the classic back down big man, against Lee, the burgeoning point-center who can put it on the floor, lay it for someone else, or dunk it himself. Both of them are among the best rebounders in the league, racking up double-doubles on a near nightly basis. Bogut has a quickness advantage over lots of centers in the league, but not Lee. Lee is ultra-quick and can explode for dunks. Each should pose a different set of problems for the other defensively, though Bogut is a much better overall defender than Lee, who chooses not to participate on that end very often. I’m sure each has heard the other’s name mentioned a lot with regard to all-star candidacy, so it’ll be interesting to see how they react as they should be more than up for this challenge. Fortunately for the Bucks, Bogut’s had two days off since Orlando, which always increases the odds he’ll do well.
Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas, Ersan Ilyasova, Hakim Warrick and Jerry Stackhouse
Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Toney Douglas, Jonathan Bender and Chris Duhon
Harrington is one of those guys who comes in and gets buckets immediately. He’s capable of a 40-point showing off the bench and not many guys are capable of that. If he gets hot from three, he’ll fire without remorse regardless of whether or not it’s a good shot. Hughes has been in Mike D’antoni’s bizarre revolving door doghouse lately and in response has grown quite the beard of defiance. He got some run against the Wizards though and with Chris Duhon not being very good, we’ll see where this goes. Duhon might play, he might not play, it’s tough to tell how far he’s been demoted. If he doesn’t play, Toney Douglas or Jonahtan Bender may be in line for more run.
Prediction: Bucks 107 – Knicks 97
With two days off after the loss in Orlando, the Bucks are in prime position to steal another one on the road in New York. The Knicks last played Wednesday, so they’ve had time to rest as well, but they don’t really have an answer for a healthy and rested Andrew Bogut underneath. The Bucks would be well advised to pound it in to him every chance they get and try to get the Knicks down early. Offensively the Knicks can come back from an early deficit, but they don’t exactly have the most mental toughness out there. When the Bucks were able to jump on them early in Milwaukee in November, the Knicks pretty much folded up shop and gave in. That’s the kind of effort the Bucks will be looking to get out of them again.