Keyon Dooling vs. Kyle Lowry
Lowry is a very good defender, specifically, he’s one of the best guards in the league when it comes to taking charges. He’s not altogether very impressive anywhere else on the court, though he can hit open threes when given a look. Pretty much a run of the mill standard point guard, he could just be holding this spot warm until Aaron Brooks has a few more games back under his belt. Dooling hasn’t shot well at all this season, but his 3-point shooting has come around a bit over the past two months. He hit 38.5% of them in December and is holding fairly steady in January 36.8%.
John Salmons vs. Kevin Martin
Martin is a little similar to Bucks pariah Michael Redd. He scores very efficiently and often finds himself as a featured option on teams that aren’t very good. It’s not like it’s all Martin’s fault, but he’ll take his share of the blame. Were Yao Ming healthy all season and Martin were able to slide into a number two option role, the Rockets would likely be much better off and he’d be operating where he’s supposed to. As always with Martin though, he’s a big scorer, just as capable of hitting from deep as he is driving into the paint for tough shots in traffic. His 62.1% true-shooting percentage has him ranked seventh in the league.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Shane Battier
Coach Skiles hinted after last game that some changes may be forthcoming in the starting lineup. That very well could mean shifting Mbah a Moute to the power forward slot, or the bench. Battier continues to have success with his defense and 3-point shooting routine.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Luis Scola
Milwaukee held Scola in check last time these teams met. The Rockets crafty power forward scored just 10 points on four of 13 shooting, thanks largely to the defensive efforts of Larry Sanders and Ilyasova. He’s central to the Rockets offense though, so Milwaukee will have a hard time limiting him so dearly in Houston. Ilyasova has put together three straight double figure scoring games, two of them double-doubles, as apart of his season long quest to re-establish himself. He’s still struggling with the 3-point shot (31% in January), though not quite as much as he was a month ago (19% in December). If that light ever comes back on, Ilyasova could be on the way to a big second half.
Andrew Bogut vs. Chuck Hayes
Bogut had his way with the undersized Hayes earlier this season, scoring 24 points while grabbing 22 rebounds. Such an offensive display seems out of the question for the time being with Bogut fighting an illness and a back injury, but 22 rebounds is never out of the question for the Bucks center. He’s averaged 15 rebounds over his past four games. He likely won’t have to spend too much time worrying about Hayes, often Houston’s last option on offense. So long as Bogut is keeping him off the offensive glass, Hayes likely won’t score more than a basket or two.
Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Earl Boykins, Drew Gooden and Jon Brockman
Courtney Lee, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger and Aaron Brooks
Brooks didn’t play when the Rockets came to Milwaukee earlier this season, but he could factor heavily into Monday afternoon’s game. The undersized scoring guard is very accurate from 3-point range and uses his above-average quickness and feel to find lanes and openings all over to drive though. He alone makes the Rockets bench potent, though Budinger and Lee have their moments as well. Milwaukee’s bench could get a shake-up if Skiles does decide to alter the starting lineup. Maggette seems most likely to step into a bigger role, as he’s played better of late. Over his past five games, Maggette’s shot better than 50% and averaged 13.6 points per game.
Prediction: Bucks 105 – Rockets 99
If the Bucks can stop shooting themselves in the foot so hard early in games, they’ll probably be able to pull out a few more wins. If Coach Skiles changes things up and gets the Bucks off to a better start, they’ll have a real shot in this one. The Rockets are a group struggling to figure out what they want to do defensively. Milwaukee should be able to shoot better than 45% against them and probably won’t play as poorly defensively as they did against the Sixers.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).