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Keyon Dooling vs. Mike Bibby
We’ve been over this a time or two. Dooling: defense. Bibby: offense. Fortunately for Milwaukee, Dooling’s a better offensive player than Bibby is a defensive player. Especially lately. Dooling’s connected on 43.2% of his threes this month and 41.6% of his shots overall. Injuries to Brandon Jennings and John Salmons have forced Dooling into a much bigger role over the past month and a half and for the most part, he’s responded well. Defensively there are some players he matches up with better than others, but he’s always competitive at that end. Earlier in the season his shooting was an adventure, but he’s normalized over the past month. Dooling’s had plenty of criticism come his way this season, but he’s been more than adequate as Milwaukee’s number two point guard.
Chris Douglas-Roberts vs. Joe Johnson
CD-R is tough to peg. The last time he scored 30 points, he followed that up with games of 24 points and 0 points. Before his 30 point game in Chicago, he failed to score in 15 minutes against Memphis. His successes seem to have something to do with him getting in good shots early, and then playing enough defense to stay on the court while he’s hot. There’s no question, at times, that CD-R can be the Bucks best scorer. But like many of his teammates, he’s searching for consistency. Johnson has found consistency. He’s averaging better than 26 points per game this month while shooting better than 50%. He could alter CD-R’s night rather quickly with a strong start that sends Milwaukee’s mercurial shooting guard to the bench.
Corey Maggette vs. Josh Smith
Maggette’s been bothered by a sore hand lately, which he said contributed to his passive play against Memphis. He played just 20 minutes against Chicago and only attempted four shots, so it appears the hand may still be bothering him. Most of Maggette’s shot attempts are spot-up jump shots. He said after the Memphis game that his hand hurt when he shot, so if Maggette’s feeling those effects on the majority of his shots, his accuracy could be an issue. As is, Maggette’s making just 37.5% of his spot up attempts, a poor number that could get worse before it gets better due to his injury.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Al Horford
Horford should be back from injury just in time to matchup with the Bucks. He’s too quick for Ilyasova outside and strong enough to muscle him inside. And he has a feathery touch on his mid-range jumper. So, yeah, he’s going to be a problem for the Bucks power forward. Best case scenario is that Ilyasova keeps Horford from doing too much damage on the glass and gets his jump shot going early. When Ilyasova is playing confident, it makes a world of difference and can turn him into an impact player. Milwaukee could use one of those to balance out Horford.
Andrew Bogut vs. Jason Collins
The Hawks went with Zaza Pachulia as their starting center after their offensive debacle in New Orleans, so he could get the call again against the Bucks. Collins has had moderate success against Milwaukee this season though, posting an ultra-rare double digit rebounding game in Milwaukee earlier this season. Slowly but surely, Bogut’s rebounding numbers are creeping ahead of his scoring numbers as he continues to struggle offensively. Aside from tap-ins around the rim and the occasional hook, it’s tough to rely on Bogut to do much consistently while he battles the virus that’s bothering him. He tweeted that the virus that’s troubling him won’t be going away any time soon either.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Earl Boykins, Garrett Temple, Larry Sanders and Carlos Delfino
Jamal Crawford, Zaza Pachulia, Marvin Williams and Maurice Evans
Without Jennings, Salmons or Drew Gooden, Milwaukee’s bench look awfully thin. Garrette Temple, newly signed D-League veteran, could provide a boost on the wing. He’s more defender than scorer, but could surprise. If he can hit an open jump shot, he can play for the Bucks. Delfino’s been struggling to make any shot at all since his return from a concussion, but certainly hasn’t been shy about shooting. He’s made seven of 28 from the field since returning, and just two of 16 from behind the arc. Atlanta’s bench starts with Jamal Crawford, the explosive scorer, but will get a boost from the returning Marvin Williams. As the Bucks struggle for health, the Hawks have healed up. Perfect.
Prediction: Hawks 103 – Bucks 90
Atlanta is a talented team that’s finally gotten healthy. Milwaukee’s not quite so talented and just as unhealthy as they’ve been all season. Plus, the Bucks have struggled all season to defend their home court, something they did very well a year ago. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Bucks are just 9-10 at home. Add that all up and Milwaukee could be in danger of falling a season low 11 games under .500.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).