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Game 42 Preview

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A Look at the Bucks

Well...right off the bat we need to admit that "A Look at the Bucks" is a horribly misleading way to title this section.  We're not really going to see the Bucks tonight.  Leading scorer Michael Redd is out, which is a shame because I really enjoy seeing him play.  Second leading scorer and starting point guard Mo Williams is out.  Young Charlie Villanueva is on the sidelines too.  Between those three that's 58 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals taken out of their arsenal.  What's left?  A whole lot of recently acquired pocket dynamo Earl Boykins, who is capable of scoring a point a minute and in past years has also given the Blazers fits.  Also there's Ruben Patterson, who you may remember can score like a sledgehammer in the low post when given the ball (which he will be tonight because there's nobody else).  Plus there's once-first-overall-pick Andrew Bogut, who before this week had a string of double-doubles including a 27 point game and outings of 18 and 24 rebounds.  He's cooled down in the last couple but he may heat up again.  The Bucks are going to let Ruben try to bull his way inside, have Bogut draw out our bigs with mid-range stuff, and try to feed us a steady diet of Boykins slashing and ducking for slithery layups and one-legged fall-away jumpers.  Other than a few shots from 6'3" journeyman Charlie Bell that's about it.   Patterson may draw Roy on the defensive end to try and muscle/bully/harass him into a poor game.  God help whatever forward they send out to try and stop Zach.  Chances are they'll hope to get some easy buckets off of turnovers and misses to help their cause too.

Will all of that put together be enough?  It shouldn't be.  Not if we come out with any kind of energy and drive anyway.  If we make a reasonable effort not to turn the ball over and to get back in transition we should come away with a win.  The Bucks have lost 8 of their last 10 and had the good fortune to have a date with the Hornets postponed in that stretch.  When that's a major relief it ain't a good sign.

Things I'd like to see:

  1.  First and foremost--and probably the only thing that matters--we need to take this game seriously.  That means coming out with energy, not settling for stupid long shots all the time on offense, and making a reasonable attempt to limit Milwaukee's easy buckets.  If we can manage that, which any NBA team really should be able to do, we should have success against their walking wounded.  Boykins and Patterson are both streaky, emotional players though, and if you let them get on a roll unchecked you're going to have a very long night.
  2.  On offense we need to feed them a steady diet of Zach all night.  They'll have to double which hopefully will open up things for other players, but he needs to be at the center of it.  The only one who can stop him from having a career night tonight is himself.
  3.  Other than Dan Gadzuric, who has some natural ability but isn't getting a lot of playing time, they have absolutely no shot blocking.  And I mean none.  Brian Skinner pretty much doubles the block production of every other individual player on the team and he averages one (that's right, I said one) block per game.  Zach, Roy, Jarrett, Sergio...EVERYBODY needs to be driving it inside on these guys.  I don't want any freakin' paint left on that rim by the end of the evening.
  4.  Defensively it's impossible to double-team Earl Boykins and you don't really need to double-team Andrew Bogut.  That means all you have to worry about is Ruben down deep.  If he takes the ball down there triple-team him because he's going to shoot it every time.  This is NOT a hard or intricate defensive assignment type game.  Just pay attention and move a little.   If we blow this, something is seriously wrong.
  5.  Speaking of defense, other than Boykins there's not a healthy Buck in the bunch who can hit from outside.  You make them shoot jumpers, you win.  A little zone wouldn't be amiss here as long as you don't let little Earl split it too often.
  6.  If you want to win the rebounding battle they'll let you, so why not want to?  The only other way I could see them hanging in it is if we fall asleep and let them get a ton of second shot opportunities.
It's worth noting that everybody who's predicted in the Jersey Contest so far (that thread is just below this one) has predicted a Portland win.  I hear ya.  I feel it too.  When you get this feeling with recent vintage Blazers it means one of two things.  Either we're going to come out and win handily or we're going to come out completely flat and get horse whipped by a team whose lunch money we should have stolen.  Let's hope for the former.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)