[table id=26 /]
Enemy: 48 Minutes of Hell
Keyon Dooling vs. Tony Parker
It seems like none of the Spurs ever slow down. Parker is again hitting better than 50% of his shots from the field this season, an incredible number for the average point guard, but typical for Parker, who once led the league in points in the paint. And he does his work all without the benefit of a 3-point shot, as he’s only eight of 28 from deep this season. He’ll cause problems all night if Dooling can’t keep him out of the paint, as he’s a very good passer and knows when to drop it off inside and when to keep it himself for a floater or layup. Bogut will have his hands full with both Parker and Ginobili penetrating.
John Salmons vs. Manu Ginobili
Ginobili’s brilliance and awkward offensive style was on full display when Milwaukee traveled to San Antonio last month. You see what I did there? Before his disputed last basket, Milwaukee was able to muster little resistance to his knifing style of play, allowing him 24 points mainly on drives and tough looking shots. It was just all in a days work for Ginobili, who has made a career of getting in the paint, but making it look difficult. As I noted yesterday, Salmons seems forward bound, rounding into shape, though slower than anyone would have liked. Better late than never.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Richard Jefferson
Much was made of Jefferson working with Coach Popovich this summer, learning the Spur way of life and trying to bounce back from a rough season last year. The results have remained steady for RJ. He’s not as crucial to the Spurs offense as he was in the past to his Nets teams or in his one season in Milwaukee, but he’s filling his role well. He’s made a career high 43% of his threes and isn’t turning the ball over much. That’s pretty much all the Spurs are asking of him and he’s done both things consistently throughout the season.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. DeJuan Blair
Blair has struggled a bit over his past four games, failing to score in double figures and finishing just six of 22 shots. But don’t underestimate the burly Blair, he can be a monster inside. Ilyasova will enjoy a big height advantage over Blair, as most power forwards do, but Blair is very capable of bullying Ilyasova out of the way on the offensive glass and finishing. For once Ilyasova won’t have to worry about diving out to stop the opposing power forward’s mid-range jumper though as Blair’s game is limited mainly to scoring around the rim.
Andrew Bogut vs. Tim Duncan
Duncan is less involved in the uptempo San Antonio offense than he’s ever been, but is more sleeping giant than incapable of great things. One gets the idea that the Spurs are simply saving him for the post season, as he’s playing a career low 29 minutes per game. He is getting older though and certainly won’t impact the game the way he did as a younger player. It’s possible he’ll force Bogut into another rough game, but it’s just as likely Bogut will force himself into another poor offensive outing. Milwaukee could use Bogut the strong finisher around the hoop, and not the version that made just four of 17 shots against the Heat. Points will likely be difficult to come by against San Antonio and Bogut could be a difference maker.
Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Earl Boykins, Drew Gooden, Jon Brockman and Larry Sanders
Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, George Hill, Antonio McDyess and Tiago Splitter
The suddenly capable offensively Bucks bench will have their hands full with a talented Spurs group. Bonner is as much a specialist as any player in the league, hitting nearly half of his 3-point shots and Hill has come into his own as one of the best backups in the NBA. McDyess can step out and hit long twos as a big man and Splitter provides energy and fouls as a big. One of these groups could easily swing the game, both have the talent necessary.
Prediction: Spurs 93 – Bucks 88
Milwaukee nearly pulled out a victory against the Spurs in San Antonio, but they’ll be hard pressed to repeat that performance. For all the good work the Bucks have done on the road this season, they still haven’t won many big games at home. This could be the biggest one, but the Spurs have lost just six games this season for a reason. They bring the second best offense in the league to Milwaukee and that just may be too much for even the stout Bucks defense to handle.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).