Next stop on the pain train: Bucks vs. Blazers preview

The schedule doesn’t ease up for the depleted Milwaukee Bucks as they host a Portland Trail Blazers team which boasts the third best record in the league.

The Bucks (2-7) are on a five-game losing streak which doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. They played admirably in their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last Saturday. But the injured Bucks at the moment are simply overmatched against basically any team in the NBA. Their only way to win is to win with effort. And it’ll be hard to out-effort the surging Blazers (9-2) tonight at 7:00 PM.

It could be a loooong night.

What to Watch For: Bucks

Brandon Knight has played just over 40 minutes so far this season due to an ailing hamstring and he missed all of last Saturday’s game against the Thunder because of it. He’s questionable again for tonight’s game. But if he plays, he’s definitely who I’ll watch.

He looked impressive, albeit rusty, in his second-half performance against the Miami Heat last Tuesday, collecting six assists, six free throws, and a steal in just twenty-three minutes of action. They’re not gaudy numbers and they look worse when you factor in his four turnovers and three fouls. However, he used creative aggressiveness to attack the paint and create shots for others. He was also able to use his six-foot-four size to blow past hedging defenders on pick-and-rolls. That’s something Bucks’ fans haven’t been able to enjoy since B.J. (Before Jennings).

What to Watch For: Blazers

Former Marquette star Wesley Matthews has been on fire from three this season, shooting 52.6 percent on the year and 60 percent over his last two games. It’s been a surprisingly strong start for Matthews who experienced an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) a week before the start of the season. Thankfully that was just a scare, as he’s pretty fun to watch play and go Golden Eagles and all that jazz.

Injury Report

Bucks: Larry Sanders (thumb; out), Carlos Delfino (foot; out), Ersan Ilyasova (sprained ankle; day-to-day), Luke Ridnour (back; day-to-day), Brandon Knight (hamstring; day-to-day), Caron Butler (shoulder; day-to-day),

Blazers: C.J. McCollum (foot surgery; out)

Projected Lineups

Bucks:

PG Brandon Knight

SG O.J. Mayo

SF Khris Middleton

PF Ekpe Udoh

C Zaza Pachulia

Blazers:

PG Damian Lillard

SG Wesley Matthews

SF Nicolas Batum

PF LaMarcus Aldridge

C Robin Lopez

Jeremy’s For Recreational Purposes Only Prediction

Line: Blazers -4

Over/Under: 197

For a long time, I wrote previews and attempted to predict the final score of the Bucks game that night. More often than not, I failed. Only once, when Milwaukee ventured into Boston and lost 98-89 on December 8, 2009, did I call the final score.  It’s no easy task.

So I’ve decided to venture down a new path, a more entertaining path. One where I actually have a chance of being right at least half the time. Ah hell, who am I kidding, it’ll probably be more like 25% of the time, but that’s far better than I’ve done in the past. I’ll be divvying out RECREATIONAL ADVICE regarding the line and over/under for every Bucks game.

For Bucks-Blazers, I’ll take the Blazers -4 and the under. Robin Lopez has been a monster defender this season and the Bucks have been terrible inside the 3-point line. I don’t expect that will change this evening. While the Bucks have been an effective 3-point shooting team, the Blazers have the best 3-point shooting defense in the league, with guards capable of running out and getting to shooters.

Neither team has played with much pace this season, so I don’t expect either will break the 100 point barrier either. Apparently, Jon feels different though, judging from the prediction below. Still, I stand firm.

Choose the Form of the Destructor: LaMarcus Aldridge

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Bucks have been getting beat up in the paint ever since Larry Sanders decided to go to Apt. 720. Tonight they’ll face one of the best interior scorers in the league in Aldridge and it won’t be pretty.

Aldridge averages 22.6 points and 8.0 rebounds on 48.6 percent shooting from the field and 57.6 percent from within eight-feet of the basket, according to NBA.com/stats.  Hopefully Ekpe Udoh can build off his shocking double-double last Saturday against the Thunder to neutralize Aldridge. But probs not, though.

Prediction: Blazers 109 – Bucks 92

Categories: Game Previews

Jon Hartzell is a writer/producer at NBA.com who likes the Bucks.

4 Comments

  1. One way to increase the effort is to play more guys more minutes. Turn up the intensity by keeping guys fresh. This works especially well for a team like the Bucks that has a lot of good players but no real stars. Reward the most effective players, including those who play the hardest and smartest, with the key minutes down the stretch. If the Bucks can keep it close for the first 40 minutes, then perhaps they can pull out the game in the last 8 minutes.

  2. AMERICA, we each one of us get an opinion of our own.

    I predict a shocker: Bucks victory 97-94

    STAY POSITIVE…

    GO BUCKS