Two cornerstones of a young team are to not put away games (like last night) and to struggle on the road. The Bucks are substantially worse on the road. They are actually a solid offense at home (100 offensive rating) with a stout defense (92.9 defensive rating). On the road, they’re a terrible offense (95.7 offrtg) and a terrible defense (102.4 defrtg). Being on the road on the second half of a back-to-back probably isn’t a winning formula for the team.
What to Watch For: Bucks
Let’s go back to something that Jason Kidd said earlier this season about the big men.
“We believe they’re playmakers, they’re quarterbacks in the offensive end,” Kidd said. “Then in the defensive end they are the anchor. It’s being able to talk on pick-and-roll coverage and then also being there in support if someone gets beat, to meet them (opposing players) at the rim.”
This season, there has been a serious difference between how the team plays when Larry Sanders is on the court versus when Zaza Pachulia is on the court. Sanders is a black hole where offensive production goes to die. This applies to both sides of the court.
On defense, teams are shooting less than 40% when Sanders is in the game. Sanders is strong at snuffing out drives before they even get started. He sags off into the paint off of most picks. He’s too long and athletic for teams for guards to challenge him. He’s too quick and aware to lose the roll man. Teams only take seven shots a game at the rim against Sanders. Those shots only convert at 43%. Pachulia can’t hope to match Sanders on defense and the Bucks suffer there accordingly. With Sanders on the court, the Bucks defensive rating is 91.6, with him off the court, it’s 101.7.
Offensively, Pachulia has been a solid foundation whereas Sanders has been a disaster. He is the quarterback that Kidd was talking about. Against the Knicks, Pachulia was on the elbow and found Brandon Knight for an easy layup which is something that Sanders will probably never be able to do regularly. His field goal percentage also keeps defenses honest and gives the Bucks more options. Sanders disastrous field goal percentage (48% from less than five feet away) has been a pain.
With Sanders questionable again, look for the Bucks to have another solid offensive outing with some questionable defense again. While it is nice to see the offense hum a bit, Sanders is the preference. Sanders has a much more widespread effect on defense that can carry some questionable defenders on the team. Pachulia doesn’t really cover-up some of the other big offensive problems like turnovers or lack of free throws. Patience is the key. Just let Sanders heal from his bruise and he’ll eventually start making his layups which will remedy a few things. Or maybe just teach Pachulia and Sanders how to do the Dragonball Z Fusion Dance.
What to Watch For: Nets
This is either Mikhail Prokhorov to Kidd or Lionel Hollins to Brook Lopez tonight:
Time – 6:30 p.m. CST TV – FS-Wisconsin Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Larry Sanders (Questionable)
Nets: Bojan Bogdanovic – Joe Johnson – Deron Williams – Kevin Garnett – Brook Lopez
Choose the Form of the Destroyer:
Joe Johnson is evil.