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Keyon Dooling vs. Baron Davis
Brandon Jennings is back, but Dooling will likely start for at least one more game. Coach Skiles indicated that a minute limit may be on Jennings for the first few games of his return until they can see how his foot is reacting and make sure he is 100%. Once that’s clear, Jennings will return to the lineup without restriction. At that point, Dooling can finally return to playing minutes he’s accustomed to. Dooling hadn’t averaged over 30 minutes in a month, as he’s doing this January, since January of 2009. If this is his last start, it’s a match-up the Bucks acquired Dooling for. Davis is a larger point guard, but not as quick as he once was. Dooling can physically match-up with him better than Jennings. He’s still a handful since his focus has returned.
Chris Douglas-Roberts vs. Randy Foye
Milwaukee is catching the Clipeprs at a less than ideal time. Eric Gordon has quickly developed into one of the league’s better backcourt scorers, but he’s out 3-4 weeks with a wrist injury. In his place is journeyman guard Foye. Foye isn’t close to the athlete or shooter Gordon is and doesn’t present nearly as many problems. CD-R should return after missing last game due to a death in the family. With John Salmons possibly on track to return, he could see his playing time begin to cut back dramatically though.
Corey Maggette vs. Ryan Gomes
Gomes is a tweener forward who doesn’t take much advantage of his size at the three. He prefers to float around the perimeter where he is an average three-point shooter. If he attempts more than a shot from inside 15-feet, it would be a surprise. Maggette will certainly have the quickness and athleticism edge on the perimeter. If he can make a couple jumpers early, something he’s been doing very well lately, he should have Gomes running out at him. That should open up favorable driving lanes for him. A big night could be ahead for Maggette in his old town.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Blake Griffin
You may have heard about this Griffin guy.
Andrew Bogut vs. DeAndre Jordan
One knock on Bogut, for all the good things he does, is that he isn’t very athletic. It’s evident every time he has to fade from the hoop or loft up a layup when some of the better athletes at center would be dunking. Jordan is one of those better athletes. He and Griffin combine for one of the more exciting young forward/center combinations in the league. Jordan’s offense consists solely of dunks and putbacks at this point, but he’s quickly becoming an intimidator as the back line of defense for the Clippers. He’s averaging 2.5 blocks per game this month, Bogut-esque numbers.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Brandon Jennings, Earl Boykins, John Salmons, Larry Sanders and Carlos Delfino
Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ike Diogu, Brian Cook and Rasual Butler
What little three-point shooting the Clippers have without Gordon comes off their bench in Cook and Aminu. Bledsoe has had his moments as a rookie guard, but this is a pretty thin group. Jennings and Salmons have a load of rust to shake off; it’s unlikely to expect them to be able to contribute much. Delfino is the key to the Bucks bench. If he’s hitting threes, it’s a pretty formidable looking group. If he’s not, they are rather pedestrian. Garrett Temple will likely get lost in a number crunch if Salmons returns, but if he doesn’t play, Temple could see some time as the backup two.
Prediction: Clippers 94 – Bucks 92
The Clippers have won eight in a row at home and surely are looking at the Bucks as a team they can beat to stretch that to nine. Griffin has been as much a force of nature on the court as he’s been basketball player, he’s going to require Ilyasova and Bogut to be their sharpest defensively. Keeping him off the glass and making him work on defense could help, but even that may not be enough. These aren’t the typical Clippers. Not with Davis plugged in again and some of their young players stepping up. Milwaukee’s defense won’t let them out of it and if it’s close at the end, anything could happen. Milwaukee just needs to get that far.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).