Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 39-31
Miami Heat (Erik Spoelstra) 38-34
Time: 7:30 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin and NBA TV
Brandon Jennings vs. Carlos Arroyo
The shipping out of Rafer Alston initially seemed like a questionable move, given that he helped Orlando so tremendously last season after Jameer Nelson went down, but the more I look the more I like it. Miami doesn’t have the talent around their point guards to make up for poor effort on defense or freelancing in the offense or just a general problem in the locker room. At any given time, Alston can be those things. Arroyo has some flair in his game, but isn’t all that good. Why Chalmers still doesn’t start is beyond me, but he appears to be a little off-kilter himself. Regardless, the point guard position in Miami ends up being Wade’s by game end anyway. Jennings has struggled mightily in his last two; a rebound game would be nice.
John Salmons vs. Dwyane Wade
Salmons is coming off his first bad game as a Buck and will hopefully be a little refreshed after apparently running out of gas a little. On Tuesday, Coach Skiles held Salmons out of practice when he appeared to be a little tired after playing a ton of minutes against the Kings, Nuggets and Hawks combined. Salmons wasn’t himself on Wednesday, so hopefully he’ll be back to normal on Friday. Wade’s a monster, but he gets even better if he’s not trying to do it all himself by forcing tough shots and trying to get to the line every possession, good shots be damned. He had 10 assists on Thursday. Gulp.
Carlos Delfino vs. Quentin Richardson
DON’T LEAVE RICHARDSON OPEN. That should be the scouting report on Richardson. That’s all it needs to say and that’s virtually everything to his game. Oddly enough, there are times when that’s Delfino’s whole game too, but hopefully he’s going to the basket some more Friday to get himself going before he settles for the threes he was missing against the 76ers.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Michael Beasley
I’m still thinking about this slick move Beasley put on the Bucks the last time these teams met. He had the ball in the post, faced up and put on a ridiculously quick move to get by whoever was guarding him, possibly LRMAM. Beasley has all the talent you want in a guy, but his size isn’t great and his desire is in and out. Still, if Wade trusts him and works with him, on any given night he can be a problem. Ideally he’s a great matchup for LRMAM, but Beasley is probably even quicker than the super quick LRMAM and can hit from nearly anywhere on the floor. He’s probably not a good matchup for anyone. Here’s hoping to an uninterested Beasley on Friday.
Andrew Bogut vs. Jermaine O’Neal
Will Bogut get back to crushing every center in his path against the Heat? Hopefully. He’s been struggling of late, but O’Neal is no where near the defender he used to be and presents Bogut another opportunity to get himself squared away. Bogut’s a big guy and didn’t play as many games as he’d have liked last season, so fatigue could be sitting in for Bogues at this point. It’s important that whatever the reason is that he’s struggling, he communicates it to the team and they get him squared away. The Bucks only go as far as Bogut takes them.
Jerry Stackhouse, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova and Kurt Thomas
Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers
Wright is crazy athletic and can get unconscious from three, so he concerns me. Haslem is a good defender with that reliable Kurt Thomas jumper and Anthony’s a good shot-blocker, if nothing else. The Heat has some good role players on their bench, but not more so than the Bucks. This is a pretty even matchup, with the Bucks getting the edge for the consistency of Ridnour and Ilyasova.
Prediction: Bucks 98 – Heat 87
This should be a bounce back game for the Bucks. They’ve owned the Heat all year. Dwyane Wade gives everyone cause for concern and the Heat are as healthy as they’ve been when playing the Bucks, but overall, the Bucks have more talent and are a better defensive team. Wade could take over and the Bucks might go to Charlie Bell to see if he can bring some more of the pressure that stifled Wade when these teams met earlier this year. This is one the Bucks are going to really want, with the Heat being so close to them in the standings. Milwaukee will be up for this one.