Milwaukee takes on America’s Team: Bucks — Knicks Preview

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Giannis digs in. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Just kidding. The Knicks aren’t ‘America’s Team’.)

What to Watch For: Bucks

Larry Drew has constantly adapted his lineups to match what his opponent does. Instead of forcing them to react to him, he reacts to them. Given his lack of roster firepower, perhaps that’s not the worst strategy. In the past two weeks, he has gone big against Detroit ginormous front court and small against Orlando’s three-guard lineup. Now he has to decide what to do with New York.

The Knicks will likely start J.R Smith at small forward and Carmelo Anthony at power forward. If Drew uses his normal starting lineup, that would leave Ersan Ilyasova guarding the NBA’s second-highest scorer out on the perimeter.

I don’t think Drew or Ilyasova would like that very much.

What to Watch For: Knicks

If the playoffs started today, the Knicks would not be in them. They trail the 8th-seeded Bobcats by 1.0 game and the 9th-seeded Pistons by 0.5 games in the standings.

The Knicks have diligently tried to be a decent team in a woeful conference. So far, they have failed.

Defenders of the Knicks may point to injuries to Tyson Chandler and others, but the team is 9-14 when Chandler plays and 10-14 when he doesn’t. The Knicks just aren’t that good.

Logistics

Time – 7:00 p.m. CST

TV – FS Wisconsin

Radio – 620 WTMJ

Injury Report

Bucks: John Henson (wrist; doubtful), O.J. Mayo (illness; listed in pregame notes as ‘questionable’), Ekpe Udoh (ankle; listed in pregame notes as ‘out’), Carlos Delfino (foot surgery; out)

Knicks: Kenyon Martin (sprained left ankle; probable), Amar’e Stoudemire (sprained left ankle/bone bruise; probable), Iman Shumpert (sprained right shoulder; doubtful), Andrea Bargnani (torn left elbow ligament; out)

Projected Lineups

Bucks: 

PG Nate Wolters

SG Brandon Knight

SF Khris Middleton

PF Ersan Ilyasova (see above)

Larry Sanders

Knicks:

PG Raymond Felton

SG Pablo Prigioni

SF J.R. Smith

PF Carmelo Anthony

 Tyson Chandler

Choose the Form of the Destructor: Carmelo Anthony

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(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

In January, Anthony attempted 5.6 three-point shots per game and made a whisker fewer than half of them (49.4%). “Them’s good numbers, folks.”

The Bucks have allowed the league’s second-worst three-point percentage on defense (37.9%) in part because Larry Drew’s scheme constantly has them throwing meek double-teams at mediocre scoring options (low-post guys being guarded by Sanders/Henson/Ilyasova in the post) in favor of leaving decent shooters wide open.

The Bucks’ three-point defensive field-goal percentage bloated to 41.5% during a 1-15 start to 2014. Yuck.

The Bucks won’t be doubling the post with the person whose job it is to guard Anthony. They will, however, need to shore up their approach to defending shooters like Anthony if they want to stay competitive.

On the other hand, the tankerific Bucks may have little to no interest in being good at the moment.

Prediction: Knicks 98 – Bucks 84

Categories: Game Previews

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2 Comments

  1. I totally agree about the horrible defensive strategy of a weak double team on a mediocre post player because it regularly leaves a wide open three point shot. Jon McGlocklin has been pointing this out for years.

    My bet is they continue this and Carmello gets 5 open threes tonight.

  2. If memory serves, Khris and Giannis did a good job defending Carmelo in the last meeting, an overtime loss. It might be good to rotate those two guys on Carmelo and J.R. Smith.

    I’d really like there to be less of Ersan and more of Miroslav, especially as Ers seems generally to be shot-happy these days, but rebound-sad.

    I like starting Nate with Brandon, and I hope Nate proves me wrong about his current readiness, and dishes out a bunch of assists and makes a fair amount of outside jumpers. Let’s give Nate a good audition for a couple of weeks leading up to the trade deadline, and see if he’s worth a major role for the rest of the season.

    I hope the focus going forward is our young guys — John, Larry, Brandon, Khris, Giannis, Nate, Miroslav — and that these guys take advantage of the opportunity with enthusiasm, effort, heart, headiness, and teamwork. Have some fun and provide some excitement!