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Brandon Jennings vs. Jrue Holiday
In six March games, Holiday is averaging nearly 40 minutes a night, as Coach Collins has shortened the Sixer rotation. Holiday’s responded with improved rebound and assist numbers, but has struggled to make threes or free throws with much consistency. While he has good size, he’s more speed and quickness than power at this early point in his career. Power point guards often give Jennings loads of trouble, but he has success with ones that rely on quickness he typically can match. I hesitate to even mention it for fear of a jinx, but Jennings has shot well over 40% from the field in March while averaging over 20 points per outing. In addition, he has made 50% of his shots or better in each of his last two games.
John Salmons vs. Jodie Meeks
If there’s one thing the Bucks do really well, it’s limit players whose primary job is to make three-pointers at any and all cost. The Meeks’ of the world don’t often get the opportunity to burn the Bucks. Don’t expect that to change this evening. Salmons remains one of the Bucks better defenders, even if his offensive game hasn’t had the late season upswing many were hoping and possibly expecting. He can still be productive offensively, but it’s not worth betting on.
Carlos Delfino vs. Andre Iguodala
Iguodala is assisting on a career best 26.8% of his possessions and has been especially good in the month of March, in which he’s averaged nine assists per game, with three double figure efforts. He’s operating with the ball in his hands a ton and has largely responded very well to his decision making role in the Sixers up-tempo offense. He’s been compared to Lebron James with regard to his role in the Sixer offense this season, never a bad thing. Delfino will start on him, but Milwaukee likely won’t hesitate to try and disrupt him offensively by tossing Mbah a Moute out there on him if they decide to go big.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Elton Brand
Brand is as bad a matchup at the four as there is (outside of a Zach Randolph) for Mbah a Moute. His combination of size and a mid-range jumper is tough for Milwaukee’s best defender to match-up with. He’s very powerful and that’s the one thing Mbah a Moute has trouble with, considering his size limitations. This could be a spot where Jon Brockman gets big minutes and draws a few charges or Larry Sanders combats Brand’s strength with his length. Either one of them would free up Mbah a Moute to guard Iguodala defensively, but may hurt the Bucks forward’s production on the offensive glass, his main source of offense. Such are the problems Brand creates when he’s playing well.
Andrew Bogut vs. Spencer Hawes
Bogut hasn’t taken it to Hawes like it seems like he should have this season, but he has had trouble really taking it to anyone offensively all season. Don’t expect that to change. The Bucks will need Bogut’s typically strong night on the glass and they’ll need him to be as good as ever defensively inside the paint. In the Sixers January victory over the Bucks they scored just 26 points in the paint and won with their scorching hot jump-shot. Milwaukee will gladly force them to do the same on Saturday night.
Corey Maggette, Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins, Larry Sanders, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jon Brockman
Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams, Marreese Speights and Evan Turner
In the first two games of this series, the Sixers bench has largely dictated the end results. In game one, an 11-point Sixer win, they outscored Milwaukee’s bench 47-32. In a nail-biting one point victory, they tied Milwaukee’s bench with 44 points. Game one saw big efforts from both Young and Williams while Speights chipped in 10 rebounds. Only Williams was able to get loose in game two. Milwaukee must limit this athletic group’s ability to create turnovers and get out on the break. Philadelphia is third in the NBA in fastbreak points per game, with 17.8.
Prediction: Bucks 92 – Sixers 87
Philadelphia is on the second night of a back-to-back, coming off a big win in Boston. Milwaukee’s operating on two days of rest and has won two straight. They’re desperate to make a run at the final playoff spot and are in a position to do so. If they can’t pull this one off against a quality, but possibly tired, opponent, that’s probably a strong indication that the last two wins against Washington and Cleveland had a lot more to do with Washington and Cleveland than Milwaukee.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).