Game 22 Preview: Bucks vs. Rockets

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Enemy: Red 94

Point Guard
Brandon Jennings vs. Kyle Lowry

Lowry is a muscle bound, defensive type of point guard, annually one of the league’s leaders in charges taken.  He’ll certainly turn the ball over some, that’s where the Bucks could really win this matchup.  Milwaukee is good at forcing turnovers, just not so good at scoring off them.  Jennings has a history of harassing opposing point guards as they bring the ball up the court and at the half court line; he may be able to get an easy bucket or two this way.  Milwaukee will need Jennings to rediscover his touch after a rough game against Indiana in which he made just two of five shots from 10-15 feet.  Jennings in between game often helps to make or break the Bucks.

Advantage: Bucks

Shooting Guard
John Salmons vs. Kevin Martin

Martin is the Rockets answer to Michael Redd.  He shoots a great percentage, makes his free throws, scores points, but rarely is able to lead his team to wins.  That’s not all Martin’s fault, but it seemed to help move along his departure from Sacramento, as they felt he and Tyreke Evans wouldn’t be able to share the ball well enough.  Salmons has been the Bucks answer to Charlie Bell this season.  That’s not what a team should want out of the player they figured would lead them in scoring.  One has to wonder how many more dreadful games Salmons needs to play before seeing a significant reduction in minutes until he’s contributing again?

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Shane Battier

Battier is a great defender who can knock down open shots from anywhere on the court.  He doesn’t have the same size and length that Mbah a Moute has, so he isn’t as capable a defender on as many positions as LRMAM, but his superiority on offense more than makes up for that.  Battier is currently hitting 36.6% of his threes, while Mbah a Moute has missed the only three he’s attempted this season.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward
Larry Sanders vs. Luis Scola

Scola could prove to be Sanders worst nightmare is the Bucks rookie is actually matched up with him.  Part of Sanders’ shot-blocking exploits have come because he has no apprehension when it comes to biting on a pump fake or two.  That’s just one of the hazards of the job of a shot-blocker would seem to be his thought process.  Well, he’ll see plenty of fakes and frolics from Scola, who owns as crafty a repertoire as any low post player in the league.  We could see another foul fulled night out of Sanders against the Rockets.

Advantage: Rockets

Andrew Bogut vs. Chuck Hayes

“The Chuckwagon” as they call him, gives up plenty of height to opposing centers, checking in somewhere around 6-foot-6, but for what he lacks vertically he makes up for with great strength.  He’s very good at pushing opposing centers off the block and making them catch in places they aren’t typically fond of catching.  Bogut should have no problems lofting up his floaters and hooks over Hayes, but could see his fair share of double teams throughout the night if he gets off to a quick start.  Milwaukee will need their power forwards on the glass, whether it be Sanders or Ersan Ilyasova.

Advantage: Bucks

Corey Maggette, Ersan Ilyasova, Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts


Brad Miller, Courtney Lee, Ishmael Smith, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger

A number of Rockets bench players, notably Lee and Budinger can get hot from outside and cause problems for Milwaukee.  The last thing the Bucks need is for an under-performing bench to light them up from three.  Ilyasova had a very strong 21 and 10 against the Pacers and was by and large the reason Milwaukee was still in the game near the end.  It’s always a good thing when he’s able to string together a couple strong games and his performance last game could mean more minutes again tonight.  With Ilyasova, minutes often equals production.

Advantage: Bucks

Prediction: Rockets 93 – Bucks 87

The Rockets have had their share of defensive woes this season, but the Bucks have done a great job of playing “self defense” through 21 games.  Something will have to give tonight, either the Bucks offense, or the Rockets defense.  Having watched every one of this team’s games, I have a hard time believing it will be the Bucks offense, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.  Believe it or not, a win would leave the Bucks having gone 3-1 on this home stand.  When looking ahead last week at it, one would have considered that an absolute miracle when looking at the competition.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog  Follow him on Twitter.  Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).

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