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Brandon Jennings vs. Kirk Hinrich
Jennings has taken some positive steps forward in March after a brutal February in which he was returning from foot surgery. He’s been better from the field overall and has seen his three-point shooting trend upwards over the past few games. If he can make modest improvements in shot-selection from this season to next season, he’s more than capable of being a 42% guy from the field and a 37% guy from three. When Jennings is catching and shooting, his primary role for Milwaukee, he’s pretty good. He just gets into trouble when he’s taking shots off the dribble, primarily that off the dribble fadeaway from mid-range that he so rarely makes, but too frequently attempts. Hinrich is a tough matchup for Jennings though: a strong, quick point guard that is a fierce competitor on defense. He’s a good point guard for the Hawks and one that gives Milwaukee trouble a lot.
John Salmons vs. Joe Johnson
Sebastian Pruiti made a very illustrating point to make on Salmons earlier today on Twitter:
John Salmons shots 52.2% when attacking the rim coming off of screens, but he opts to take a dribble jumper 78.5% of the time.
Salmons is connecting on just 33% of those dribble jumpers, a number that surprises not a single fan who has watched a lot of Bucks games this season. Time after time Salmons pulls up for jumpers instead of getting to the rim. Even worse, Salmons is often leaning, fading and generally off balance. When Salmons is slashing through the lane and kicking out or taking it all the way to the hoop, he’s at his very best. Too often he hasn’t done that this season though.
Carlos Delfino vs. Josh Smith
When Smith has played the three against Milwaukee, he’s been an awful matchup. Delfino and the rest of the Milwaukee wings are no where near big or strong enough to stick with him, and he’s as quick as any of them. He rises over them inside time after time. Mbah a Moute is by far the best matchup for Smith Milwaukee has, but the Hawks frequently arrange the matchup so that Milwaukee has trouble getting their best defender onto him. Smith too often takes himself out of games though, relying on his jumper despite his physical advantages over Bucks defenders. Rarely does Smith hurt the Bucks too much, though it always seems like he’s about to. I guess that’s the case with many of the most athletic players.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Al Horford
Horford should be back Tuesday night against the Bucks. He always seems to get healthy just in time to play Milwaukee. And that makes sense for him, as he’s shooting better against Milwaukee than he is against any team in the league outside of the Warriors. This season, Horford is averaging 16.3 points on 71% shooting against the Bucks. If Mbah a Moute is defending Smith, Horford feasts on Milwaukee’s other options. Bogut is too slow and the rest of Milwaukee’s post defenders are not clever enough. Mbah a Moute is a bit over-matched with Horford too, as Atlanta’s big man is very, very strong.
Andrew Bogut vs. Zaza Pachulia
The Hawks have started a Collins Brother at center often this season, but went with Pachulia when Horford was out last game. It’s tough to tell where they will move at the five if Horford returns Tuesday. He may slide over or he may stay at the four with a big man next to him. Either way, it’ll be important for Bogut to be aggressive in the post, as that always opens up the Bucks offense for everyone else. Even if Bogut is struggling, he needs post touches to make the offense go. Every game Milwaukee has played well, he’s at least been active down low, if not effective.
Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins, Larry Sanders, Jon Brockman and Corey Maggette
Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, Marvin Williams and Damien Wilkins
Teague has come on lately and has the sort of quickness that can really change a game. Crawford is still a very good scorer and Williams is a very good bench player. Milwaukee’s gotten good play from Dooling, Boykins and Sanders of late as they move to a more stabilized bench. Boykins in particular could have an impact, as he torched the Hawks in Atlanta earlier this season. He could use Teague’s quickness against him and make some open shots if the Bucks get in another drought after a tough game in Boston.
Prediction: Hawks 97 – Bucks 90
Milwaukee won’t be as bad as they were in Boston, but they probably don’t have the talent to upend the Hawks at home. Milwaukee will probably play good ball again, I see that Celtic game as more blip on the radar on their march towards the eighth seed, but Atlanta is a much more talented team. I think the addition of Hinrich is what puts them over the top in this game.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).