(The folks at Stubhub were kind enough to offer up some tickets for Saturday night’s Bucks-Pacers game in Milwaukee. Head on over to the Bucksketball Facebook page and see what you have to do to win.
PS. It’s Kareem Bobblehead Night.
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Enemy: Truth About It
Brandon Jennings vs. John Wall
Expect big assist numbers and a few turnovers from Wall. Expect neither from Jennings. Whereas Wall runs and guns in an offense ranked 11 in the NBA in pace, Jennings is the captain of a cruise ship, rather than a speed boat. Jennings low assist totals have something to do with his team’s lower than average shooting percentage, but they also have to do with the Bucks offense in the half court. A lot of times Milwaukee has other players handling the ball aside from Jennings, whose drives through the lane are rarely accompanied by a cutting teammate. There aren’t a lot of half court offense assist opportunities for the Bucks young point guard. In Washington’s offense, Wall certainly is creating more and finding teammates on the go.
John Salmons vs. Nick Young
Salmons may be a little more complete than Young, a lot more complete actually, but he isn’t scoring as reliably. Young seized the opportunity that opened up when Gilbert Arenas left and has been pouring the points in ever since. He’s boosted his monthly scoring output from 13.2 to 18.3 to 21.1 and finally to 22.7 in three February games. His assist and rebound totals have remained meager though. Young can get buckets, but that’s about it. Say what you will about Salmons offensively this season, he’s always going at it on defense and chipping in a few rebounds and assists every night.
Corey Maggette vs. Rashard Lewis
Maggette runs into the rim. Lewis launches errant three-point shots. Both aggravate a lot of people, neither is especially good at defense.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Andray Blatche
After a rough January, February has started out a little better for Blatche. He’s made better than 50% of his shots in three February games after hitting just 40.9% in January. He’s a jump-shooting, ball-handling big man. But he has the size and strength to go inside and finish around the hoop too. His bad habits and general disinterest in winning basketball are what holds him back. Too bad they are probably fatal flaws, because he’s very talented. Ilyasova quietly had a smart game against the Raptors. He spent most of his time attempting to hound Andrea Bargnani into bad shots and misses, but he didn’t take any silly shots and rebounded well defensively. It wasn’t the biggest scoring game he’s had recently, but it was a smart game, something Ilyasova doesn’t always have.
Andrew Bogut vs. Javale McGee
Both Bogut and McGee had little statistical impact on the game the last time these teams met, but Bogut’s defense isn’t somethign that’s so easily tracked. Any time Bogut meets a guy like McGee, a dunking, shot-blocking highlight machine, he typically ends up getting the better of him. Milwaukee didn’t go to him often enough last time and could look to establish him early again tonight before eventually looking elsewhere. That strategy worked against Toronto, as Bogut scored six points early and just eight the rest of the way. He certainly has the size to get McGee deep enough that his shot-blocking is nullified.
Keyon Dooling, Carlos Delfino and Luc Mbah a Moute
Kirk Hinrich, Al Thornton, Hilton Armstrong and Trevor Booker
In his search for consistency and wins, Coach Scott Skiles has shortened his bench up the last two games, playing just three players primarily. Milwaukee’s finally fairly healthy 50 some games into the season and Coach Skiles wants to try and keep his best players on the court as much as possible. How long this will last is anyone’s guess though, as Skiles has always been fairly finicky with his rotations.
Prediction: Bucks 93 – Wizards 82
Milwaukee’s defense seemed re-energized against the Raptors and that should carry over against a Wizards team that’s lost seven in a row. If Milwaukee can force turnovers and take advantage, they will be in good shape. If the Wizards are able to get out and run off misses and Milwaukee complies with another sub-40% shooting night, things could tip in the favor of Washington. Milwaukee must make some shots to prevent Wizard breaks.