[table id=26 /]
Enemy: Queen City Hoops
Brandon Jennings vs. D.J. Augustin
Saturday night’s struggles aside, Jennings is having a very good month of March, one of the best shooting months of his NBA career. For the first time since his first professional month, Jennings is on track to shoot better than 40% (currently at 41%) for an entire month. And if history holds true, Jennings should be able to boost his percentage and his other averages up against the Bobcats Monday night. In two games this season, Jennings has averaged 26 points, 8.5 assists and six rebounds against Charlotte on 55.2% shooting. The Bobcats are an average defensive unit, but point guard is not their strongest defensive position. Augustin is no larger or quicker than Jennings and doesn’t share his defensive accountability.
John Salmons vs. Gerald Henderson
Salmons continues to torture with performances reminiscent of last season sprinkled in around painful mid-game shooting slumps. Against Chicago, Salmons was a big reason the Bucks were able to pump their lead up to as much as 13 points in the third quarter. Of course, his zero for five effort in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee’s number one option down the stretch had an awful lot to do with that lead slipping away. Henderson has seen his minutes expand considerably over the past three months and has treated Bobcats fans to extended stretches of mediocre play. Not much of a shooter, but not a great slasher, Henderson exists in some sort of basketball nether. One that tends to allow players to stick around for only a few years unless they stick as defensive stoppers. Henderson may want to start getting to work on that end of the court each night.
Carlos Delfino vs. Stephen Jackson
Wow. Delfino’s averages over his past five games: 23.4 points and 6.2 rebounds on 59.1% shooting from the field and 59.1% shooting from behind the arc. Yes, 59.1% FROM THREE. Delfino’s averaging 5.2 threes per game on 8.8 attempts over his past five games. Incredible numbers, ones that have been key to the Bucks offense finally recovering a bit as of late and once again crawling out of the league’s cellar in offensive rating. The biggest plus with Delfino is that his offense comes with little to no defensive drop off. That will be key against Jackson, Charlotte’s best offensive threat. Jackson was ejected last time these teams played, so Milwaukee will have to be sure to be ready for how he changes Charlotte’s game.
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Boris Diaw
Mbah a Moute has run off six consecutive double digit scoring games, the longest such streak of his career. Given that the Bucks virtually never run a play for him, this has been a pretty spectacular run for the Bucks power forward. It should come as no surprise that Mbah a Moute has averaged 2.5 offensive rebounds per game over this stretch, and capitalized on the majority of those opportunities with scores. Diaw can shoot the three a little for a power forward, is a good passer and occasionally puts up solid rebounding numbers. He’s largely not someone the Bucks will need to be concerned with though.
Andrew Bogut vs. Kwame Brown
Brown’s recovered a bit this season as a rebounder and putback scorer. But he’s still Kwame Brown. He’s an average defender and blessed with hands of stone that make him very ineffective in most offensive settings. Bogut’s been scoring more and at a higher percentage in the month of March, but hasn’t exactly been a reliable source of offense for the Bucks. He’s twice scored 20 points this month, but three times finished with fewer than 10 points. But signs of progress have been few and far between in this injury plagued season for Bogut, so his 52.2% shooting percentage and better than 60% free throw percentage could be the light at the end of a long tunnel of a season for him. A healthy Bogut changes things for the Bucks, be it at the end of this season or the start of next.
Keyon Dooling, Jon Brockman, Larry Sanders and …. We’ll See
Shaun Livingston, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White, Dominic McGuire and Matt Carroll
Will the Buck stick to the same three reserves they played against Chicago, or will they expand the bench? That’s the question heading into Monday night’s game. Earl Boykins seems most likely to earn some minutes, as he’s played three of the Bucks last fives games. Corey Maggette and Michael Redd sit waiting and supposedly ready, but Maggette hasn’t played a meaningful minute in a long time and Redd hasn’t played any minute period in over a year. If any of the wild card Bucks reserves gets in this one, expect it to be in the first or second quarter, before the game’s flow takes over. Dooling really struggled at the shooting guard last game and the Bucks cannot afford prolonged droughts at this time of year.
Prediction: Bucks 95 – Bobcats 91
Milwaukee needs a clean sweep this week, no two ways about it. Unless the Bucks get Sacramento-itis again and play like they did against the Kings last week, they should come out awfully motivated and hungry for a win. Road wins haven’t been easy for the Bucks this season, but it’s tough to predict what team will come out night in and night out with this group. Against the Knicks, they came out and were ready to get a big win. If they do the same against a much less talented Bobcats team, they’ll get another.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook (right sidebar).