[table id=26 /]
Enemy: Nets Are Scorching
Keyon Dooling vs. Devin Harris
There’s a lot of positive talk about Brandon Jennings returning to play the Nets Saturday night, but it seems that he’ll be coming off the bench in his first game back from injury. Coach Skiles told Charles F. Gardner he only expected Jennings to play limited minutes in his return. Any minutes Jennings is given will more likely cut into the playing time of Earl Boykins rather than Dooling. Dooling and Boykins have both had their moments in Jennings’s absence, but Dooling has been a much more steady defender. Boykins scoring outbursts have always been enjoyable, but his penchant for over-dribbling and limited impact defensively cannot be overlooked. Against the famously quick Harris, Dooling is a better matchup.
Chris Douglas-Roberts vs. Stephen Graham
Even though three other Bucks scored 20+ points against the Raptors Friday night, it was actually CD-R that led the team in plus/minus. That’s a stat that’s hard to put too much stock in for one game, but it did illustrate that CD-R did a couple more things than he usually does against the Raptors. Known primarily as a scorer for good reason, CD-R grabbed four rebounds and handed out three assists in his 24 Toronto minutes Friday. Those are still fairly pedestrian numbers, but a marked improvement for a guy who was averaging less than two assists and three rebounds in his five previous starts for the injured John Salmons. Salmons may be back soon, and with the glut of wings Milwaukee’s now sporting, CD-R could be in line for a significant playing time cut when is he. He must continue to make the most of his minutes now.
Corey Maggette vs. Travis Outlaw
Now would be a great time for me to officially retire my, “When Corey Maggette Scores 20 Points, the Bucks Will Lose By Double Digits” theory. It was fun while it lasted. But this is more fun. Maggette’s finished with 20 points seven times this month and Milwaukee is 5-2 in those games. His scoring has been a constant lately. His teammates haven’t all come around, but Maggette sure has. This is the player the Bucks traded for. This is the guy who inspired a lot of confidence in Milwaukee’s efforts to be improved this season. It would have been great had he been here all season, but in this case, late is once again, better than never. Maggette’s coming off a big game against the Raptors. He logged his first double double of the season by scoring a season high 29 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Derrick Favors
Ilyasova couldn’t miss against the Raptors. That’s kind of what the Raptors encourage though. Not that the Nets are much better. Favors may have trouble sticking with Ilyasova outside, which should result in a few open looks for the Bucks forward. But he hasn’t always been great about knocking those down this season. Yes, he made nine of 10 shots in Toronto (including both his three-point attempts), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be able to do it again Saturday night. That, in a nutshell, has been the issue with Ilyasova this season.
Andrew Bogut vs. Brook Lopez
One rebound. 28 points and one rebound. That was Lopez’s game yesterday. If his intensity on the glass is similar at all against the Bucks, we may need to brace ourselves for a 30+ rebounding night from Andrew Bogut. It’s been an interesting year from Lopez. His scoring is up a little bit over last season, but for some reason, he went from average rebounder to completely miserable one. His rebounding rate is that of Corey Maggette’s, despite the fact that he plays near the hoop and is, you know, a 7-foot center. Bogut’s coming off a strong game offensively against the Raptors, but I’m sure he’s taking his share of the blame for a rather anemic effort defensively from the Bucks as a unit. He’s their unquestioned leader at that end of the court and should have them ready to go against the Nets.
Carlos Delfino, Brandon Jennings, Luc Mbah a Moute, Earl Boykins and Larry Sanders
Anthony Morrow, Sasha Vujacic, Kris Humphries, Quinton Ross, Johan Petro and Ben Uzoh
Anthony Morrow is a very accurate shooter and effective scorer. Kris Humphries is a big guy, a strong finisher and solid rebounder. Everyone else on the Nets bench? Bleh. If Delfino is back to form after a rough night in Toronto and Jennings is even a third of himself in ten minutes of playing time or so, Milwaukee could have a sizable advantage in this area against New Jersey.
Prediction: Bucks 106 – Nets 87
New Jersey isn’t very good. The Bucks have been good about beating the worst teams in the league pretty consistently lately. All indications are that the Bucks should win. But how they win is what will be important. Scott Skiles is desperately searching for an efficient deconstructing of a weak opponent, complete with surgical offensive precision and suffocating defense. He doesn’t want his starters to need to play much in the fourth quarter. He wants a complete effort. Whether he’ll get that is up in the air.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).