What to Watch For: Bucks (10-9)
It does not get easier for the Milwaukee Bucks. It will be a long time before it gets easier. Milwaukee’s December has been referred to as “The Sadness March”. At least it’s been referred to that in my mind as of five minutes ago.
After a near miss against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee will take on the Dallas Mavericks at home Wednesday night. One good thing: The Mavericks are coming off a double overtime game in Chicago on Tuesday night. One bad thing: Ersan Ilyasova‘s face is in disarray. He stayed overnight in a Cleveland hospital after a Tristan Thompson elbow knocked him out of Tuesday night’s game. Given Ilyasova’s recent – often crucial – contributions, this is definitely a blow for Milwaukee’s winning chances. Especially since John Henson remains out with a foot sprain.
So, as has often been the case and often will be the case this season, logic says tonight’s success will rest in the hands of Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. One of the two teens will likely be at the four for the vast majority of the game, which means he’ll be tasked not only with playing a big role in Milwaukee’s offense, but guarding Dirk Nowitzki.
And if Larry Sanders could avoid foul trouble, that would probably help Milwaukee’s thin frontcourt and occasionally dismal rebounding too.
What to Watch For: Mavericks (14-5)
This team is an offensive juggernaut, which is interesting because … how are they so much better than last season? Dallas added Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler and a collection of cast-off point guards. Surrounding Dirk and Monta Ellis with a moderately improved cast is all it took to create one of the all-time great offenses? That speaks to the season Dirk and Monta are having.
Monta was praised for his rebirth in Dallas last season, but he really had basically the same season he’d had in Milwaukee the year before, only on a better team. But this year, he’s shooting a little better and scoring with more frequency, but still acting as a facilitator. Meanwhile, Dirk is having the same amazing season he always has. He’s making his twos and threes, grabbing enough rebounds to be productive and driving opponents crazy with the degree of difficulty of some of his shots.
Time – 7:00 p.m. CST TV – FS-Wisconsin Radio – 620 WTMJ
Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova (face; doubtful – like super doubtful, “outful” even); John Henson (foot; out); Damien Inglis (post-surgery — right ankle; out); Johnny O’Bryant (right knee sprain; out)
Mavericks: Ray Felton (ankle; doubtful)
Mavericks: Jameer Nelson – Monta Ellis – Chandler Parsons – Dirk Nowitzki – Tyson Chandler
Choose the Form of the Destructor: Charlie Villanueva
Charlie Villlanueva is highly unlikely to make an impact on Wednesday night’s game. But I wanted to write about him anyway.
It’s impressive Chuck V. is still hanging around, isn’t it? Two years ago, he was cut from the Dominican national team by John Calipari for being out of shape. He’s 30, but two years ago, it felt like he was 28 going on 45. He played only 180 minutes three seasons ago and only 180 minutes last season. Given all of the young players that enter the league every year and the deep pool of talent in the D-League, it’s almost inexplicable that Villanueva has stuck around.
But there’s probably something to his affability and ability to kind of hit 3-pointers that keeps him hanging on. I commend him for bouncing back from 2012’s embarrassment and being in good enough shape to have earned a contract with the Mavs this season. Good on you, Chuck.