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Game 20 Preview: Blazers vs. Bucks

A Look at the Bucks

See if any of this sounds familiar...

  1.  The Bucks are watching their main player, who's been on the edge of stardom for a while now, fulfill every reasonable dream anyone could have for him.  Michael Redd is scoring 30 points per game on 48% shooting (phenomenal for a high-volume guard) is drawing 10 free throws a game (phenomenal for a perimeter shooter), and is shooting 84.5% from the free throw line (phenomenal for anyone).  Despite this, the Bucks are off to a relatively poor start, trailing their division with a record of 6-11.  The problems?
  2.  While Redd is having a career year, everybody else is off to a slow start.  The guys you thought would be producing are inconsistent, and the guys that are consistent are already maxing out their talent and can't give you much more.
  3.  The Bucks are pretty darn good on offense, averaging 100 a game on 46.3% shooting.  But they are putrid defensively, allowing 104 points per game and 48.4% shooting.  They look nice enough many nights, but they can't win games that way.  Their perimeter positions are stocked with weak defenders. They give up four more assists than they acquire.  Their interior defense intimidates nobody.  Their blocked shot deficit is an amazing 2.6 to 6.4.
  4.  They're getting spanked on the boards on a near-nightly basis.  They run about six rebounds in the hole.
  5.  They're battling injuries to key players (Charlie Villanueva, Bobby Simmons, and perhaps now Mo Williams).
  6.  They're not defending their home turf at all, with a 2-4 record in Beer and Cheeseland.
  7.  Not surprisingly Milwaukee is the proud owner of one of the league's worst point differentials at -4.  It's no fluke they are where they are.
Other than the blocked shot thing and the fact that our coach's head isn't on the chopping block there are a lot of similarities between the early-season Blazers and the Bucks.  Despite that, they have a few things going for them.  Redd is the most obvious.  He's added driving to his repertoire this year and that's why he has the huge numbers.  If Villanueva returns tonight (there's speculation that he will) he adds another nice scorer and a great rebounder.  Point Guard Mo Williams, who may sit out the game with a back injury, dishes the rock pretty well and is capable of near triple-doubles but can be inconsistent, especially on defense.  Center Andrew Bogut is having a serviceable year with 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds but still hasn't found the dominating game one expects of a first overall pick.  Journeyman guard Charlie Bell has been putting up an enormous amount of shots in an enormous (for him) amount of minutes but probably isn't a guy who can carry a team.  Our old friend Ruben Patterson has also been logging 30+ minutes a game with all the ups and downs that entails.  It's amazing how all his individual defensive skills haven't led to better team defense...

The Bucks are going to score from the backcourt first, and they're going to score from range.  If they threaten you with their inside guys it's better to foul them than let them score.  Not only will they miss the free throws, they'll also shrink away from the contact.

Things I'd like to see:

  1.  We've done pretty poorly against teams with overwhelming individual talent in the backcourt.  We need to see a repeat of last night's energetic defense on Billups and Hamilton repeated tonight.  If the Bucks' backcourt doesn't go wild they don't win.  This will entail watching the 3-point line very closely.
  2.  This is another game where you must put pressure on the weak opposing defense by moving the ball, cutting, and driving.  There's no reason at all to take a contested jumper in this game.  Play inside out, but not just by posting...on the move too.  Nobody is going to stop you from scoring in the paint except yourself.
  3.  Part of Milwaukee's woes is a lack of commitment to transition defense.  If you get the chance to run it on them, do it.  They can be opportunistic themselves if you let them so getting back should be a priority for us too.  I think this game is winnable even if other things go wrong as long as we don't let them run on us.  Their points in the paint will be a big indicator of how the game is going.  A large number would be very bad for us.
  4.  Outside of Villanueva and sometimes Bogut, this is a poor, poor rebounding team.  We are also a poor, poor rebounding team but somehow I just keep hoping that Przybilla, Magloire, Zach, and Lamarcus will commit to this and catch fire.  Tonight would be a great night to start.
  5.  This should be a great night for the point guards, especially Sergio.  You'll have the freedom to do whatever you want.  I'm also thinking this could be a good night for Joel to finally step forward.  I know Magloire might want some revenge time but he's been so inconsistent lately it's hard to see him getting it.
I was going to say that if we were going to steal a win on the trip this looks like a likely place, what with the Bucks reeling and all.  But darned if we didn't steal it last night.  I'm all for taking a couple though...

--Dave (