Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 45-35
Atlanta Hawks (Mike Woodson) 51-29
Time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Mike Bibby
We’ve seen all of these before. I wouldn’t expect much to change across the 1-3 spots. The Hawks will still probably use more Jamal Crawford than Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson will still get his share of time covering Jennings. If Milwaukee could find a way to get Jennings some positive momentum against the Hawks just in case these teams meet in the playoffs, that would be a delight. That could mean playing Jennings and Ridnour together some more. Of course, that creates quite a defensive mismatch for the Bucks. This is just one of the many reasons I’d rather see Milwaukee play Boston in round one.
John Salmons vs. Joe Johnson
Johnson has had some injury issues lately (sprained thumb), but he’s just fine now apparently. If Johnson were to be out of this equation it would make Milwaukee’s job considerably easier. Johnson’s size and ability to play different positions give the Hawks such an advantage on both sides of the ball. Johnson can switch onto bigger players defensively and post up small players when Atlanta has the ball. Salmons could see some time at the point, as he did the other day against New Jersey, if Milwaukee wants to use a bigger back court to avoid mismatches with the Hawks. Hopefully we’ll get another duel out of these two like the one they had in late March.
Carlos Delfino vs. Marvin Williams
Two of the more underrated defensive forwards in the league together again. These two probably won’t have much impact, but could have huge impacts if either is able to bust out with a big game. Delfino is the more likely candidate, but Williams isn’t immune to a good night every now and then. Guys like Delfino and Williams are very difficult to project as scorers, their big games seem to come at random. Both do contribute as defenders though and Delfino does a lot in every game that doesn’t make a lot of waves, but helps his team win. Delfino is a better ball handler and creator, but doesn’t have the size to switch onto fours like Williams does.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Josh Smith
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute gets his shot blocked a lot. Josh Smith blocks a lot of shots. So we may be seeing those two things collide at some point during Monday’s game. More than likely, Smith’s biggest impact on this game will be offensively though. Smith gives Milwaukee all kinds of problems at the four if Milwaukee chooses to go small. He was posting up Jerry Stackhouse with reckless abandon on the 22nd of March when these teams last met. Defensively, Smith got all of his blocks last game by waiting on the weak side for Andrew Bogut to shoot. He tossed them into the crowd shortly after a number of Bogut’s shots. With the Bucks not posting up very often any more, don’t expect big block numbers from Smith. Unless he’s getting Jerry Stackhouse or flying across the paint. The Bucks move the ball well, so if he’s flying around they can take advantage.
Kurt Thomas vs. Al Horford
While Horford isn’t a traditional post up player, he can still score down low. He takes four shots nightly at the rim, connecting on over 70% of them. Get him away from the rim though, and his percentages drop drastically. The Bucks will need to keep him off the offensive glass, which is where he does the most of his damage. The best skill Horford has though, is his ability to guard anyone on the perimeter. He’s as important as any Hawk in their “switch on all screens” type defensive style. The fact that Horford can stick with most Bucks on the perimeter is almost unfair.
Jerry Stackhouse, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova and Dan Gadzuric
Jamal Crawford, Maurice Evans and Zaza Pachulia
The Bucks are deeper but the Hawks have the best player. Crawford can and will explode, but he’ll shoot the Hawks out of it as he did in late March at the Bradley Center. Carwford’s size is another issue for the Bucks … is that beginning to become redundant? The Hawks are crazy.
Prediction: Hawks 96 – Bucks 92
What should be most interesting about this game is seeing how the smaller Bucks lineups stack up with the Hawks. We haven’t seen much of that, so it’s possible Milwaukee will fare better their than I’m expecting. Still, Atlanta is too athletic and too strong defensively. Their the Sixers on steroids.
Of course, Milwaukee did beat Philly last week.