Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 22-26
Inactives: Michael Redd, Francisco Elson and Joe Alexander
Indiana Pacers (Jim O’Brien) 18-32
Inactives:Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster and Earl Watson
Brandon Jennings vs. A.J. Price
The rookie matchup to end all rookie matchups, JENNINGS V. PRICE. Okay, so not really. Price’s rise from late second round pick to starting point guard on a bad Eastern Conference team hasn’t been a popular story, but is intriguing nonetheless. With Earl Watson out after a death in the family, Price got his first start on Friday against the Pistons. Price can hit an open three, but often won’t burn anyone from deep, he’s a fairly consistent 33 percent shooter from deep. He probably won’t see more than 25 minutes or so, as T.J. Ford has come back with a vengeance or something like that. After being banished to the bench for some time, Ford got some minutes on Friday and made the most of his time hitting five of seven shots and dropping five assists. Either way, Jennings shouldn’t have his hands full with them on either end.
Charlie Bell vs. Brandon Rush
Don’t expect a lot of fireworks out of this matchup, as both Bell and Rush fill the role of defensive player who can shoot a three if left open. Neither creates much and both shoot fewer than two shots a game at the rim, both hitting roughly half of them. Alas, the three-point shot is a valuable weapon, so two unassuming, typically not-so-crucial players like Bell and Rush could prove important when this is all said and done. And of course, Rush has a nice size advantage over Bell, so he could slide over and guard Carlos Delfino or anyone else if need be.
Carlos Delfino vs. Danny Granger
Granger is the best player on the Pacers and that cannot be questioned. What CAN be questioned is whether or not he’s good enough to be the best player on a team that actually matters. Bucks fans can relate to this by replacing the name Danny Granger with the name Michael Redd. Like Redd once did, Granger has improved his scoring average each year he’s been in the league and like Redd, Granger has shot threes very well in the early part of his career. And like Redd, Granger hasn’t played on any teams that have been very good since he’s taken on a more active role. Granger has shown signs of slippage lately though; he averaged only 20 points a night in January and shot less than 40 percent for the month. Fortunately for Granger, the Bucks have often been the cure for woes that ale athletic swing men. What bodes well for the Bucks though, is that the Pacers have no one else that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute need be very worried about, so he may end up with extended minutes on Granger.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Troy Murphy
Troy Murphy – A Chart
Stop him from shooting the three up top and you will be successful.
Andrew Bogut vs. Roy Hibbert
I haven’t heard anything that would indicate that Bogut won’t be playing Saturday, so I’ll operate under the assumption that the migraine has subsided and hope he’ll give it a go. I’m sure if he’s anywhere near ready, Bogut will find a way to get on the court to tangle with the Pacers again. His first ever 30-point game came earlier this season courtesy of the Pacers and Hibbert. Hibbert is no match for Bogut, as he has nowhere near the necessary quickness to stick with Bogut off the face up game. Hibbert has some length, but once Bogut gets it going he’s been able lately to score on pretty much anyone. It may actually work in Bogues favor that he missed most of Friday’s game, as he won’t be doing a back-to-back and should have fresh legs to throw at Hibbert and the Pacers.
Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas, Hakim Warrick, Ersan Ilyasova and Jerry Stackhouse
T.J. Ford, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Dahntay Jones
The Pacers actually have a decent looking bench until you get four or five into it. After those three things fall off considerably. This is saying a lot when we’re talking about a fall from the likes of Dahntay Jones. The Bucks bench stepped up again against the Knicks and will have another big advantage against the Pacers. Depth and many contributors have been hallmarks of Bucks wins and it could be the case again.
Prediction: Bucks 104 – Pacers 89
On the road in the second game of a back-to-back against a team coming home off their first successful road trip of the year; that doesn’t sound good for the Pacers. Toss in a rested Andrew Bogut and a confident Brandon Jennings on the evening of his own bobblehead and things get worse for Indy. The overall talent comparison indicates that the Pacers aren’t as far off from the Bucks as I suspected in positional matchups, but when the Bucks have advantages they are very significant. The Bucks would be wise to really attempt to expose the Bogut and Jennings matchups to their fullest.