Injury Update (10:57 AM): Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports on Twitter that both Marcus Camby (shoulder) and Joel Przybilla (ankle) are out tonight, but Nicolas Batum (shoulder) will play and start. Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings is also out for a foot injury that will sideline him for at least a month. -- Ben
The Milwaukee Bucks are an interesting team. At 10-15 they don't look imposing. But they've shown themselves capable of beating or losing to both the best and worst teams in the league. They've fallen to Philadelphia, Detroit, and Cleveland. They've lost to the Lakers and Thunder as well. But they've taken out Dallas, Orlando, and Atlanta as well. They got whipped by the Blazers the last time the two teams played but that was only the fourth game of the season, a lifetime ago for both teams.
The Bucks don't lack experience or talent. They field point guard Brandon Jennings and center Andrew Bogut but Jennings has a foot problem and will not play tonight. Corey Maggette, John Salmons, Keyon Dooling, and Chris Douglas-Roberts all make their home on this team. But they're a mismatched bunch. Jennings doesn't yet have the chops to herd those veterans in the same direction. All of the guys around him have been somebody but can't (or don't) bring it any night. You have guys on this team scoring 20 and then 8 and then 15. Like a box of choc-o-lates, you never know what you're going to get.
The Bucks also suffer from a malaise seemingly more common across the league this year, though it may be just perception. (It may also be a by-product of the Super-Team syndrome.) They have one guy scoring (in this case Jennings) and six mediocre contributors. They can hit from multiple positions but the combined effect is like a boxer with a ton of jabs and no reliable knock-out punch. In Milwaukee's case this woe is compounded by their abysmal shooting percentage. They average 41.3% from the field. That's at the low end of acceptable for a single guard. For a whole team it's awful. They only shoot 34% from the three-point arc, so there's no relief there. They can can make hay from the foul line and they get quality looks when Bogut and Gooden offensive rebound. But they're the NBA equivalent of dirt farmers on the offensive end, working very hard for barely sustainable results.
Unsurprisingly the Bucks defense fares better. They're right on the borderline of decent and good in field goal percentage and three-point percentage. They're an incredibly good defensive rebounding team. As long as they keep you away from the rim, which they're also very good at, you're going to struggle generating points.
The Blazers might be forced to overcome the traditional Corey Maggette-LaMarcus Aldridge foil-fest if Maggette plays. He hasn't seen many minutes in their last couple of games. Bogut also becomes a major pain with the Blazers utterly lacking centers. Despite being at home this time this is not likely to be as easy as the earlier win. The Blazers can't rely on fast breaking the way they could against Golden State or porous defense like against the 'Wolves. They'll have to play solid defense, keep Milwaukee's percentage low, and depend on scoring enough in the natural course of things to come out on top. Portland will have to hit their shots the first time (a rarity in many Blazer games). Cautiously optimistic would be the approach tonight.
See another pretty good blog in Brew Hoop.
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