(Jeremy’s out today, so Brian Matzat is back at it with the preview.)
Enemy: 8 Points 9 Seconds
Brandon Jennings vs. Darren Collison
Darren Collison surprised everyone with his stellar play when Chris Paul went down last season. After getting traded to the Pacers in the offseason, Collison was handed the starting job when he arrived. Collison is averaging 14p/3r/4a per game on 46% shooting. On paper, Jennings is a better volume scorer, with his current statline reading 18p/4r/5a on 39% shooting. It’s hard to tell who will win this matchup. When the Bucks beat the Pacers 94-90 on the road in November, Jennings had 18 points on 7-19 shooting with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. Collison blanketed Jennings with 19 points on 5-13 shooting, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 5 steals, and 3 turnovers. Jennings has a knack for playing better in Milwaukee, so edge goes to the good guys.
John Salmons vs. Mike Dunleavy
Dunleavy shoots 45% from the floor. Salmons doesn’t quite hit 37%. In a year that’s been dictated by offensive struggles, shooting percentage means everything.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Danny Granger
Danny Granger has yet to decide if he is a franchise player. Averaging 21.5 ppg, he’s right around in the Joe Johnson land of players that get paid because of their scoring ability. Moute on the other hand has yet to realize any fruits of his offensive-focused offseason, and will eventually earn a paycheck based on his defensive prowess. If Moute sticks to Granger like glue, we might have another sub 80 point game for both teams.
Larry Sanders vs. Josh McRoberts
Drew Gooden is out today, and will not join the team until at least next week according to Charles Gardner. So the Larry Sanders experiment continues, and against an opponent like Josh McRoberts, Larry can really prove that he deserves a permanent spot in the rotation.
Andrew Bogut vs. Roy Hibbert
Hibbert is shooting his way (51%) to a nice season, averaging almost 16p/9r a game. He has size and height on his side, but has not yet developed a presence down low like Bogut has. That said, Bogut struggled to get any kind of position on the likes of Erick Dampier and Joel Anthony on Monday. I’m confident Bogut will bounce back, but if he doesn’t Hibbert might steal the show.
Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Keyon Dooling and Ersan Ilyasova
Brandon Rush, T.J. Ford, James Posey, Tyler Hansbrough and Solomon Jones
Corey Maggette is coming off a very Corey Maggette like game against the Heat. 20 points on 6-12 shooting and 7-9 from the charity stripe. After that, production was minimal. Chris Douglas-Roberts was effective in the 15 minutes he got, but until Skiles decides to cut back on Salmon’s minutes, CDR’s contributions will be minimal. Brandon Rush is quickly becoming the Pacers’ JR Smith, with hitting 3, 3, and 6 three-pointers in his last three games. His meteoric play, coupled with the Bucks propensity to collapse on drives has me worried.
The Pacers are a very middle of the pack team when it comes to offense and defense. They are actually 1 rebound per game better than the Bucks at 43.8, good for 4th in the league. We know by now that Milwaukee will be missing a bunch of shots tonight, so they will need to step up their rebounding game after Monday night’s 48-35 drubbing by the Heat. Control the boards, control the game.