On Saturday night, Monta Ellis makes his return to Milwaukee. I think we’re all quite familiar with the turbulent end of Monta’s time with the Bucks and frankly, I can’t say I’m sad to see him go. There were the ups, the downs, the Laverne and Shirley commercials.
But in the end, it was pretty apparent that Monta and the Bucks just weren’t meant to be. He turned down both an $11 million player option and a 2 year, $25 million contract to get out of Milwaukee before signing on with the Mavericks. And now he’s back. As a Maverick. I can’t imagine that this storyline is going to be talked about a bunch, can you?
What to Watch For: Bucks
The Bucks haven’t won consecutive games since March 19, near the end of last season. That’s an impressive display of inconsistency. Nevertheless, after emerging victorious from an unnecessarily-grating-on-my-nerves tilt with the Cavaliers (side note: are we going to see the Bucks play a complete, wire-to-wire game, either good or bad, this year? Every game they’re going to be up/down 15/20/342 and the game will still end up tied with 2:45 to go. Every single time). But they’ll be attempting that feat shorthanded again, as Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova, and Larry Sanders are all somewhere between “questionable” and “out” against the Mavericks. Nate Wolters and Zaza Pachulia lovers, rejoice – you’ll be seeing plenty of your favorites again.
What to Watch For: Mavericks
Monta Ellis has been doing some very Monta-like things early on in this season. He’s averaged 23 points per game while shooting under 38% three times in five games. Were it not for a supernova 11-14, 30 point game against the Lakers, his stat line would almost exactly match his career numbers. He gets points, but he can also be goaded into taking some hideously inefficient shots. This seems especially egregious combined with the fact that he shares a team with Dirk Nowitzki, one of the all-time greatest shooting big men. Still, you know, Monta’s going to play Monta ball and all that.
The Mavs are a high-octane offense, coming in averaging almost 110 points per game, good for second in the league. However, as good as their offense is, their defense is almost equally bad, giving up 108 points per game and ranking second-to-last. Even an offensively dysfunctional team like the Bucks should be able to get buckets against this team, meaning that defense will likely be the key to victory tonight.
Bucks: Bucks: Larry Sanders (thumb; day-to-day), Ersan Ilyasova (sprained ankle; day-to-day), Luke Ridnour (back; day-to-day), Brandon Knight (hamstring; day-to-day)
PG Nate Wolters
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Caron Butler
PF John Henson
C Zaza Pachulia
PG Jose Calderon
SG Monta Ellis
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Samuel Dalembert
Choose the Form of the Destructor
Speaking of Sam Dalembert…
It’s pretty much an inevitability at this point: Monta Ellis comes back and lights it up against his former team, motivated by any number of slights, insults, or other factors that led to his departure. This thing practically writes itself.
But as counterintuitive as it might seem, more shots for Monta may be better for the Bucks. If you can get him to take as many shots as he gets points (or close to it), you’ll have just as many opportunities to convert on the other end. And with the Mavericks’ screen-door defense, the Bucks should be able to take advantage of those opportunities.
Bucks 110, Mavericks 105