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Game 62 Preview: Blazers vs. Bucks

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Despite their relatively weak 23-38 record the Bucks are not a team to be taken lightly.  Mainly this is because they are capable of scoring a ton of points.  (Our meeting earlier in the year in Portland, for instance, yielded a 117-114 overtime victory for the Blazers and they have scored 105+ 18 times this year, including their 118-point performance in their last game against the Sonics.)  Normally this is the part of the preview where I would elucidate why the Bucks can be dangerous but they have a problem.  It looks like this:

Michael Redd, 23.4 ppg, day-to-day with a lacerated nose.
Mo Williams, 17.8 ppg, missed the last game with an abdominal strain
Yi Jianlin, 8.9 ppg, missed the last game with an ankle injury

I have not heard concrete news if any of these guys will be playing or not.  Missing any two would severely hamper Milwaukee's chances.  Heck, missing Redd would be a major problem all on its own.

Why?  

A.  Despite their occasional firepower the Bucks still only average a hair under 96 points per game.  They can't spare a single one of those either, because...

B.  The Bucks are a bad, nasty, stinky-like-Yoplait-left-in-the-fridge-two-years defensive team.  They don't quite give away the eye-popping numbers like the 2006-07 Wizards or 2007-08 Warriors, but they still manage to cede opponents 102.2 ppg.  Worse they allow 47.2% shooting from the floor overall and 38% shooting from the three-point line.  I've watched a few games and believe me, they don't close out, they don't collapse down, and they couldn't intimidate a newborn hamster if they were carrying a cattle prod.  Memphis allows a greater field goal percentage and Indiana a greater three-point percentage, but that's it.  They're trying to stop Panzers with Kleenex.

Milwaukee's main danger point for us is their offensive rebounding.  They're good at it and they shoot well enough to make us pay if we give them second chances.  Their perimeter players can also hit deep shots, so we'll need to close out.  Andrew Bogut can be dangerous but the recently-extra-tenacious Joel Przybilla should be able to blunt some of his effectiveness providing Joel can stay out of foul trouble.  Speaking of fouling, the Bucks don't draw near as many foul shots as they give up, and this should be another area where we take advantage.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  I'd really like to see Redd out, that's what.  I don't care about chivalry, I'd like the best chance possible of a win.
  2.  Work for shots!  Inside or outside doesn't matter too much against this team...they'll let you have both.  Just get an open one.  You KNOW they are there for the taking.  Don't settle for rushed or stupid offense.
  3.  Clean up on the defensive glass.  Get bodies on Bogut and Villanueva!
  4.  Our perimeter players should be able to draw fouls off the dribble.
  5.  You have to close out, especially if Milwaukee is at full strength.  I take my chances single-covering any of their inside guys.  They can hurt you but probably not take the game from you.  The real danger is letting their perimeter players free for open looks.  
  6.  This road trip may be the single most important determining factor deciding whether we finish the season decently or miserably.  There's only one other stretch that offers a reasonable opportunity for a run of 4 wins in 5 games.  If we blow this one that next one won't matter except maybe to get us even.  I expect us to come out with energy, confidence, and to be prepared to set the tone and take the lead in this game.  This is not the time to check as if we were afraid of our opponent's hand. It's time to get the chips in and see if we can make a little more scratch before we call it a night.
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)