|Milwaukee Bucks||Team||San Antonio Spurs|
|Scott Skiles||Coach||Gregg Popovich|
|Michael Redd and Carlos Delfino||Injuries/Inactive||James Anderson|
|Date||December 15, 2010|
|Time||7:30 PM (CST)|
Enemy: 48 Minutes of Hell
Brandon Jennings vs. Tony Parker
Tony Parker is averaging 17p/7a per game this year, which accurately reflects his career scoring average, but is well over 1 assist per game more than his career average. Why? Because the Spurs are tearing it up offensively this year. 4th in the league in points per at 106.4, and 4th in the league in assists at 23.7. With what looks to be a rejuvenated Tony Parker, and for that matter a rejuvenated Spurs team, Jennings will have his hands full trying to slow down this batch of Texans.
John Salmons (Maybe? Back Spasms) vs. Manu Ginobili
Two days after pulling Mbah a Moute in favor of CDR in the second half, figure to see more of the Prince tonight. He’ll be tasked with slowing down Ginobili who, like Parker, is looking great this season. Averaging 20p/5a per game, Ginobili is given the ball a ton and is expected to facilitate for himself and his teammates. He’s turning the ball over 2.5 times a game with all those touches, so the Prince might be the X-factor in keeping the Spurs at bay. Salmons was nowhere to be found on Monday, posting an anonymous 5p/3r/3a game on 2-7 shooting. To his credit, he knocked down a three during the Bucks 14-0 run. Yes, I’m reaching. However, Charles Gardner is reporting that Salmons might not play tonight due to Back Spasms. Another setback for Salmons is not what the team needs right now, but may prove to be a huge opportunity for CDR.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Richard Jefferson
If my Skiles assessment is correct, it’ll be Salmons/CDR on Jefferson tonight. Richard Jefferson had an off year last season as he tried to fit the mold Gregg Popovich prepared for him. This year, while his scoring is still down at 14.3ppg (versus 16.9 lifetime), he has become an assassin from the three point line. He’s choosy with his looks, but of the 95 he’s taken this year, Jefferson has knocked down 46% of them. If the Bucks can stay in front of Jefferson and prevent any and all open threes, Jefferson is relegated to a role player.
Larry Sanders vs. DeJuan Blair
Had it not been for two shaky ACLs, DeJuan Blair might be a Buck instead of Brandon Jennings. Weak knees plummeted Blair from the lottery to the 7th pick in the second round last year. Blair is proving the doubters wrong, and when given minutes has been effective. Larry has height on Blair, so this could be a key matchup. Then again, Sanders played 5 minutes against the Mavs with the carousel that is the Bucks rotation, so the minutes will go to whomever shows up to play.
Andrew Bogut (Maybe? Migraine) vs. Tim Duncan
As savvy as Tim Duncan is, he is showing his age. His minutes are down to 28.8, way under his career average of 36.2. Less time on the floor ultimately leads to less production. In his limited minutes however, Duncan is still averaging a near double-double at 13.4p/9.2r. Bogut has been on a tear of late, averaging 20.8p/15.6r per game, which is why it’s unfortunate to hear that Bogut suffered a migraine Tuesday night and is a game-time decision. Without Bogut, that sticks Sanders or Gooden on Duncan, and that’s when the savvy will take over this game.
Advantage: Bucks (with Bogut)
Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ersan Ilyasova and Keyon Dooling
George Hill, Antonio McDyess, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner
Matt Bonner, believe it or not, can give the Bucks huge matchup problems tonight. A center that usually sticks to the perimeter will undoubtedly take a Milwaukee big out of the paint. With Duncan, McDyess, and Blair to pound the glass inside, we might end up seeing a rebounding night like the Heat game from last week. The Bucks bench might look extra slim tonight if Bogut and Salmons don’t play, so look for everyone to play extended minutes tonight. We might even have an Earl Boykins sighting. Warm fuzzies to Andrew and John.
The Bucks need to play another perfect game tonight to beat the best team in the league. Without Bogut and/or Salmons, their margin of error becomes non-existent. Keep your fingers crossed until the tip-off.
Brian Matzat is a contributor to Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan of Bucksketball on Facebook (click in the sidebar).