Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 39-30
Philadelphia 76ers (Eddie Jordan) 24-47
Time: 7:00 PM (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Jrue Holiday
And why wasn’t Holiday getting more minutes earlier this year? Because the Sixers wanted to trot Lou Williams out there like a point guard and play lip-service to the deteriorated talent of Allen Iverson? Ah, well that makes sense. Few things puzzle me more than franchises refusing to give it a go with their first round picks. I guess in the case of the Sixers, better late than never, because Holiday’s been very good over the last month. In March, Holiday is averaging 13.5 points, five assists and four and half rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 50%. All while playing defense that’s very advanced for his age. Ah, his age. He’s the youngest player in the league. It’s becoming more clear why the Bucks gave him such consideration at number ten. I’m still okay with how things worked out though.
John Salmons vs. Andre Iguodala
Salmons is coming off a 32-point destruction of the Hawks and the Bucks are now 14-2 with him in the lineup. Iguodala presents another challenge for Salmons; he’s athletic, a good finisher and adept shooter, but he’s no better than Joe Johnson. Iggy’s actually a good passer and ball-handler, like Johnson, he’s something of a poor man’s Johnson. Considering the Bucks just survived a significant outburst from Johnson, the real Johnson, they should be able to survive whatever Iguodala throws at them. Especially considering Salmons heroic efforts of late, which don’t seem to be a matter of luck. He’s just the real deal.
Carlos Delfino vs. Jason Kapono
Kapono is an all time great shooter, but he’s not having an all time great season. He’s been rather ordinary most of the year, shooting around 36%, which is closer to Delfino than it is Steve Kerr. Kapono’s been better lately, nearly 50% in his last five games, and could get hot if he’s getting some more minutes. He started against Orlando for the first time this season, and may start again against the Bucks, so minutes could stay up for him. Regardless, he can’t do much of anything else and is an attackable link on defense.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Elton Brand
Once the model of consistency, Brand is anything but that at this point in his career. Still capable of 26-point outbursts (see his last game in Milwaukee), those are the exceptions rather than the rule. When Brand was in Milwaukee filling it up, he was succeeding thanks to a jumper that was going down from midrange. Clearly, he can’t replicate that kind of success every night. At his peak, Brand once got to the free throw line nearly eight times a game, this season he’s down to 3.4 attempts nightly. That goes a long way towards explaining the lack of the consistency that was once a staple of his game.
Andrew Bogut vs. Samuel Dalembert
Bogut’s been trying to find himself over the past four games and may have had more luck against the Hawks had Josh Smith not constantly been waiting for him on the weakside. He’s struggled against Dalembert in the past, so this isn’t an ideal situation for him to get back on track. Coach Skiles said more decisiveness out of Bogut would go along way towards him regaining some of the success he had a month ago, so hopefully Bogut’s facing up and going strong or making quick moves with his hooks against Dalembert. Bogut’s found himself the focal point of opposing teams defensive strategies lately, which is an unfamiliar position for him, I’d imagine the more he deals with it, the better he’ll do.
Jerry Stackhouse, Ersan Ilyasova, Luke Ridnour and Kurt Thomas
Willie Green, Rodney Carney, Mareese Speights and Jason Smith
Ilyasova had great success the last time the Bucks played the Sixers and is averaging nearly seven boards a game during his strong month of March. Ridnour had a strong game against the Hawks and Thomas has been reliable in his last few as Bogut’s slipped. The Bucks bench could be called veteran laden and it’s showing as the playoffs are nearing. Speights is trouble and has a good motor; he could pose some problems if he’s aggressive. The Sixers also have Jodie Meeks, but things haven’t really worked out any better for him there than they did in Milwaukee.
Prediction: Bucks 103 – Sixers 92
Could this be a trap game? It’s possible. The Heat are coming in Friday and the Bucks have played consecutive games against high level opponents. The Sixers aren’t high level and are easy to overlook. But they’re talented. I couldn’t understand why they were so bad before the first time they played at the Bradley Center, but realized it a little more after they left. They just didn’t play very well together and whether or not Jrue Holiday alone will alter that much this time around remains to be seen. I, for one, doubt it.