[table id=26 /]
Enemy: Warriors World
Brandon Jennings vs. Stephen Curry
Jennings should be on track to log at least 30 minutes this evening, after seeing his playing time grow from 12 to 21 minutes in his first three games back from injury. His playing time has been something he’s groused about lately, saying if he had a limit, he may as well not play at all. 30 minutes should be more than enough time for him to get in the rhythm he’s been looking for since returning. He’s always seemed to have had an extra hop in his step against Sophomore classmate Curry, so perhaps this will be the game that gets Jennings heading in the right direction again. Milwaukee’s guard is just seven of 26 from the field in three games.
Carlos Delfino vs. Monta Ellis
Before a game between two teams as unpredictable as the Bucks and Warriors, Ellis stands out as a constant. But not necessarily for the reason you may think. While he’s likely to score and shoot quite a bit, that’s no guarantee. What is a virtual guarantee, is that he’ll play 40 minutes. In 15 January games, Ellis logged at least 40 minutes 10 times. He’s an annual leader in minutes played across the NBA and typically rewards the team with healthy scoring outputs. He’s averaging 25.1 points per game. Ellis doesn’t help the Warriors in a lot of other ways, and there are always debates whether the team is better with or without him on the floor, but Milwaukee knows well the value of a player who can score. The Bucks could use a few guys like that.
Corey Maggette vs. Dorell Wright
Answer this without looking: which Warriors player has made the most threes for the team this season? Since I’m at the portion of the preview where I breakdown the small forward matchup, you probably know the answer. It’s Wright. He’s turned his career around in a flash since arriving in Golden State. Always talented, but better known as Dwyane Wade’s best friend on the Heat than as a reliable basketball player, Wright has more than doubled his previous career high points per game average with 16.1 this season. And not only does he lead the Warriors in threes, but he leads the NBA with 117. Maggette will have to keep his wits about him and know where Wright is at all times. Wright has good length defensively, but is a bit wiry for the powerful Maggette. This is an opportunity for Maggette to shine on offense yet again.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. David Lee
When Golden State traveled to Milwaukee earlier this season, they did so without Lee, who was fighting off a scary arm infection at the time. He’s back and Milwaukee will have to figure out a way to neutralize his contributions. Lee’s shooting percentage and shot attempts have dipped a bit after lats season’s all-star campaign, but he’s still by far Golden State’s leading offensive threat in the front court. Defensively he’ll be giving up size to Ilyasova, but has the speed to stay with Milwaukee’s perimeter based power forward on the outside. Ilyasova would be well served to hit the offensive glass hard and look for spot-up opportunities when his teammates are driving.
Andrew Bogut vs. Andris Biedrins
Bogut may be back. Bogut may not be back. He’s questionable as I type this. Yesterday Coach Skiles deemed him “probable” before the Phoenix game, but Bogut was ruled out after giving it a go before the game. It’s only been a day, but the early indications were that the bone bruise in Bogut’s knee wouldn’t force him out for more than a game. Caution typically prevails in these situations though, so we’ll see. Biedrins is a rebounder, average defensively and possibly the worst free throw shooter of all time. He’s a blast.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Keyon Dooling (?), Earl Boykins, John Salmons, Larry Sanders (?), Jon Brockman and Chris Douglas-Roberts
Louis Admundson, Reggie Williams, Ekpe Udoh, Acie Law and Dan Gadzuric
Milwaukee will play whoever can play at this point. Dooling and Sanders were sick yesterday and should be questionable tonight. Boykins’ minutes rely on Dooling. If Dooling plays, Boykins doesn’t, at least not very much. Brockman’s been stealing enough minutes from Sanders lately that people in Wisconsin are filing police reports left and right. Health-wise, Sanders may be more off than we’re aware of. For the Warriors, Udoh is an athlete and Williams can score in a variety of ways, but they don’t have much more than the Bucks.
Advantage: Warriors (they know who’s playing at least!)
Prediction: Bucks 106 – Warriors 100
This prediction relies on Bogut playing and Salmons not being a shell of himself. Milwaukee has the horses to stay with the Warriors on offense and stop them on defense when they are healthy. At some point, Jennings and Delfino will find themselves on the same night and this night seems as logical a choice as any. But if Bogut’s out and the Bucks can’t find any offense early, the Warriors could jump on them quick. Milwaukee doesn’t want to have to battle back all game long once again.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).