What to Watch For: Bucks
It’s tempting to say the Bucks took a step forward, pushing the Philadelphia 76ers into overtime Friday night. But Milwaukee trailed throughout much of the first half and essentially forced the Sixers into a push in the second half and overtime. So while a late lead was better than no lead at all, Milwaukee still didn’t look great. There was much clamoring for John Henson on Twitter throughout the game yet again, which is a more than reasonable request.
He’s consistently put up impressive numbers when he’s been given extended minutes. He’s slipped as a rebounder this season, but improved as a shot-blocker. At some point, it’s going to be virtually unjustifiable to play Ekpe Udoh in front of him. Perhaps we reached that point and we’ll now see more Henson tonight. Watch for Henson and don’t watch expecting many points.
Also the Bucks have lost seven games in a row. The last time the Bucks lost eight in a row (2007-08), Milwaukee’s coach did not get the opportunity to break the streak. But I don’t think Larry Drew needs to worry.
What to Watch For: Bobcats
So much defense. The Bobcats have been a very good defensive team. through 13 games they rank seventh in the league in defensive rating, allowing 101.9 points per 100 possessions. Now, Al Jefferson has played just four games, so these ratings are subject to change as he takes more minutes and likely contributes little defensively, but the Bobcats appear to have bought into whatever new coach Steve Clifford is selling.
Where the Bobcats do not succeed, is on offense. They’re one of the worst shooting teams in the league and have made just 30.5% of their 3-point attempts. They don’t shoot many and don’t make many, bu that’s to be expected when your backcourt players are Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson,
Bucks: Larry Sanders and Carlos Delfino are out. Brandon Knight is doubtful due to his right hamstring injury.
Bobcats: Jefferson returned to the lineup Friday evening. Brendan Haywood is out after surgery on his left foot.
PG Luke Ridnour
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Caron Butler
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C Zaza Pachulia
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Gerald Henderson
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF: Josh McRoberts
C: Al Jefferson
Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction (aka Betsketball)
Line: Bucks -2 Over/Under: 183 The impossible dream turned out to be impossible for a reason. I will not end the season undefeated in my gambling advice. Yesterday’s proclamation that the Bucks would cover 3.5 and the combined score would be over 201 was only half right. Oddly enough, it was the the over that I got right. Halfway through the fourth quarter, when scoring was depressed and the Bucks had a lead, it certainly seemed like I’d go 1-1, but for the opposite reason. But a missed free throw from Ridnour and one of the crazier threes you’ll see this season from Spencer Hawes flipped everything upside down.
Charlotte is quite a different team from the Sixers. There will be no breakneck speed. Pace will slow to a crawl tonight. Neither team has been very impressive on offense this season, but, as noted before, the Bobcats have been very good defensively under new coach, noted defensive mind Clifford. So that’s two slow teams, two bad offenses and one good defense? Give me the Bobcats +2 and the under on 183.
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Gerald Henderson
Here in Milwaukee, we can’t talk about Gerald Henderson without talking about how he always kills the Bucks. He’s one of those guys. At least I think that’s the rule. To be fair though, I’m basing that on conversations with my dad about the Bobcats that at some point mention Henderson, at which point he’ll inevitably give me that: “THAT GUY ALWAYS KILLS US!” routine. It’s possible he’s the only one who says this and that maybe this is a complexion I’m carrying around in my head that no one shares.
Regardless, I did a bit of research and it turns out that probably isn’t true. In 10 career games against the Bucks, he’s averaged just 12.7 points in 25.7 minutes. He averages more than 12.7 points against nine other teams. But he did score 29 points against a Bucks team hungry for a playoff spot in March of 2012, so I think that’s where much of the reputation stems. So, now that I’ve declared he’s no Bucks killer, I await a 30-point night.