Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 4-5
Inactive: Chris Douglas Roberts, Michael Redd, Darington Hobson
Golden State Warriors (Keith Smart) 6-3
Inactive: David Lee, Louis Amundson, Ekpe Udoh
Game Time: 7:30 PM (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin / NBA TV
The Other Guys: WarriorsWorld.net
Brandon Jennings vs. Stephen Curry
Jennings is still working towards establishing consistency in his game, but he’s taken baby steps towards that with back-to-back solid games in blowout Milwaukee wins. He’s been more aggressive in looking for his shots at times in each of the past two wins, but hasn’t been overbearing about shooting. There’s an important distinction between the two. It’s good for a point guard to be aggressive, but it’s bad for a point guard to be too shot happy. At times last season, often because of a lack of talent around him, Jennings got shot happy. That hasn’t been the case lately. Of course, it helps when he’s making his shots too. In the past three games, he’s connected on 8-14 threes. Curry has gotten even better this season after a strong rookie year last year. He’s shooting close to 50% and has boosted his percentage of field goals assisted on while he’s on the floor from 24.6% to 34.1%. He gets the edge over Jennings for his seven fairly consistent games, but if Jennings keeps up the stellar play of late, this could easily be a push.
John Salmons vs. Monta Ellis
Last season, Ellis took a ton of shots, hit an okay percentage of them and was the kind of volume scorer that some people love and some people hate. There wasn’t much else to Ellis. Now? He’s taking fewer shots than he did last season (even though he still leads the NBA) and has hit them at a much better percentage (44.9% last season, 51.1% this one). Ellis struggles with his outside shot, but is one of the finest at the league when it comes to getting inside the paint or hitting mid-range jumpers. His quickness could pose a significant problem for Salmons all night and could lead to more Jennings/Keyon Dooling back courts.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Dorell Wright
Carlos Delfino is still out with what is either a neck strain or a concussion, it seems up for debate at the moment. Sigh. That’s okay though, because LRMAM (by the way, I’m not sure, but I think the Richard has been dropped) has been working well in the Bucks starting small forward slot. Mbah a Moute’s defense has been stellar as always and could prove especially helpful against a perimeter shooting team like the Warriors. The Warriors are seventh in the league in 3-point attempts, but only thirteenth in accuracy. Even though they have Dell Curry’s son, Wright has been by far their finest shooter this season. He’s taken a team leading 57 threes and hit 28 (49.1%). Mbah a Moute will have to run Wright off the 3-point line tonight.
Drew Gooden vs. Brandan Wright
Without David Lee, Wright has stepped into the Warriors starting power forward role. Wright doesn’t have the offensive package of skills that Lee does, but is athletic and a good shot-blocker. He’s still thin as a rail though and could get handled by Gooden. That’s saying a lot. Milwaukee went to Gooden early in their win over New York and got some pretty impressive returns. With a smaller power forward like Wright on him, he could get the ball early again.
Andrew Bogut vs. Andris Biedrins
I hope more than anything Biedrins gets to shoot free throws tonight. He’s 0-5 on the season and owns the league’s ugliest looking free throw form. Always a good rebounder, he should have his hands full with Bogut. Milwaukee hasn’t needed to go inside much the last two games since their perimeter players have finally begun to find their stride, but at some point, they’ll need to get the ball back in to Bogut. If Milwaukee’s shooters struggle at all, Bogut should be able to operate inside effectively against Biedrins. Milwaukee will need Bogut to be at his rim protecting best against the penetrating Ellis and slippery Curry defensively too.
Corey Maggette, Earl Boykins, Keyon Dooling, Ersan Ilyasova and Jon Brockman
Vlad Radmanovic, Reggie Williams, Rodney Carney and Dan Gadzuric
Ilyasova leads the Bucks in +/- this season at +52. It’s a dangerously small sample size with regards to overreacting, but that’s impressive considering he’s dealt with jumpshot problems for a large part of the year. His +16 in the Hawks game surely helped. Boykins looks like he’s, at the very least, splitting the backup point guard minutes with Keyon Dooling and has been very effective offensively, without getting handled defensively. I think we’re all excited to see the return of Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell, though I’d only expect Bell to play late in the game or if Golden State tries to get some revenge minutes out of him. Maggette always plays with a chip on his shoulder, so I wouldn’t expect anything different out of him against his last team.
Prediction: Bucks 104 – Warriors 90
Milwaukee’s so thoroughly dominated their last two games that the bar is high against the Warriors. Don’t let their record fool you, the Warriors are still not a very good team. They’ve taken advantage of a soft early season schedule to get to 6-3. The keys for Milwaukee in this one will be keeping the Warriors from getting hot outside the 3-point line and prevent a Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry explosion. If they can do that and perform adequately offensively, this should be a win going away. I would be surprised to see another 50% plus shooting performance from Milwaukee, but if they can keep their shooting percentage in the forties, that should be all the offense they need.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan of Bucksketball on Facebook (to the right).