Category: Game Previews
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 0-1
Inactive: Chris Douglas Roberts, Michael Redd, Darington Hobson
Minnesota Timberwolves (Kurt Rambis) 0-1
Inactive: Martell Webster, Johnny Flynn, Maurice Ager
Game Time: 7:00 PM (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
The Other Guys: A Wolf Among Wolves
Brandon Jennings vs. Luke Ridnour
They got to spend a season going against each other in practice and now can do the same thing when it matters. Jennings and Ridnour know each other well, so there shouldn’t be much surprise here. Physically, Jennings has the edge, but Ridnour has been more consistent over. Ridnour is certainly no Chris Paul, so Jennings shouldn’t have as much of a problem keeping him out of the paint. The better he controls Ridnour, the easier it is for the rest of the Bucks to stick with their men. Penetrating against Ridnour is significantly less difficult than on Paul too. Jennings should have an even better night than he did in the opener.
John Salmons vs. Wayne Ellington
Salmons struggled mightily in the opener. He looked as if he hadn’t played basketball in a couple months. Probably because he hadn’t really played much basketball in the past couple months. With every game he should adjust a little more and get his legs a little more prepared. Expect him to be better, but don’t expect too much just yet. Ellington is a shooter. If Salmons has to help out on other players, Ellington can make shots off a kick out with ease.
Carlos Delfino vs. Michael Beasley
Beasley could potentially be a very good power forward, but Kevin Love is in the way over there, so the Wolves are playing him out of position at the three. He’s not a bad small forward, but when he’s playing a more perimeter oriented position, it just encourages him to shoot outside shots instead of taking it inside, his greatest strength. If the Wolves looked to post him up against opposing threes, he could be a huge matchup problem. Delfino can’t muscle up against Beasley inside. Of course, Beasley will probably have some problems keeping track of the always moving Delfino when the Bucks have the ball. Delfino took advantage of the attention others were receiving in the first game and hit 5-10 3-pointers. He’s never going to be shy about taking those shots when they’re open and he could see plenty of open ones again tonight.
Drew Gooden vs. Kevin Love
Love only played nine minutes in the second half of the Wolves season opening loss against the Kings, supposedly thanks to defensive lapses and stellar defending by Anthony Tolliver. Obviously it’s not all about this season for the Wolves and teaching lessons to their younger players may be more important at this point in time than winning games, but how does a coach sit Kevin Love for all but nine minutes of a half? In 24 minutes, Love scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He was the Wolves best player by a large margin in the pre-season and looked like he would contend for a rebounding title. But he can’t get on the court. In Minnesota. Rambis has some logic behind his decision, but it’s mainly him being “old school.” Love was a load for Ilyasova in the pre-season, but may end up with Andrew Bogut on him if he keeps that up. Milwaukee will absolutely need to control him on the glass, regardless of who matches up with him.
Andrew Bogut vs. Manna From Heaven
The Bucks didn’t go to Bogut a lot in the final pre-season game when Darko Milicic was matched up against him, but that may have been because they didn’t want to hint at anything for this game. Whenever Milwaukee went inside to Bogut, Milicic had no answer. Bogut is too strong and smart for the Wolves center. As frustrating as it was to see Bogut miss seven free throws in the opener, it was as encouraging to see him log 10 attempts. Bogut’s never been a big free throw guy, largely because of the finesse and fades he uses on his shots. The more the Bucks are in the penalty, the more he’ll stay at the line. Now he just needs to start making a few.
Corey Maggette, Keyon Dooling, Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders
Sebastian Telfair, Wesley Johnson, Corey Brewer, Anthony Tolliver, Nikola Pekovic and Kosta Koufos
Brewer is an interesting case. After fighting through inconsistency and injuries over his first two years, he finally seemed to figure things out last season. He made shots, he played defense and was one of the Wolves better players. He seemed to be a building block. Now he’s on the bench after losing his starting spot in pre-season. He hasn’t received a contract extension and generally looks like he’s falling out of favor. The rest of the Wolves are castaways from elsewhere and the rookie Wes Johnson. Mbah a Moute’s status is still up in the air as this is being written, but the Bucks could use him. They didn’t get much out of Ilyasova in the opener and Coach Skiles looked hesitant to use too much Larry Sanders. Maggette did a great job getting to the rim early against the Hornets, but settled for jump shots later in the game, that’s not why he was brought on board.
Prediction: Bucks 94 – Wolves 89
This should be a road game Milwaukee wins. Last season the Bucks didn’t win all that often on the road, but they typically took care of business against the league’s bottom feeders. The Wolves feast at the bottom. Milwaukee may still be figuring it all out, but the Wolves don’t even have much to figure out.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan of Bucksketball on Facebook (to the right).