Bucks (18-27, 5-20 road, 10th East) @ Nets (18-26, 9-14 home, 9th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 19th (101.4 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (107.8), Rebounding 14th (.504 rr), Pace 21st (92.9)
Nets Stats: Offense 25th (99.4 pts/100 poss), Defense 25th (105.6), Rebounding 7th (.510 rr), Pace 15th (93.6)
Bucks Injuries: Charlie Villanueva has a sore back but has made the trip. Mike Redd isn't traveling with the team but is expected to recover from his knee strain in time for Saturday's game against Houston. Desmond Mason is also expected to return from his wrist injury on Saturday.
Nets Injuries: Nenad Krstic is out rehabbing his knee.
07/08 Series: Nets 1-0. The Nets downed the Bucks 97-95 on December 29. The Bucks got 59 points from Redd/Mo but basically nothing else from the rest of the team. Kidd had 17 points and 15 assists for the Nets.
- The Nets have lost nine in a row, so even if the Bucks are shorthanded this is a golden opportunity to catch an Eastern Conference rival while they're down. New Jersey's latest setback was a 98-95 loss in Minnesota. Richard Jefferson had 35, Vince Carter 25 and Jason Kidd had just 11 points and 4 assists.
- While the Bucks are terrible on the road (5-20), New Jersey has actually been worse at home (9-14) than on the road (9-12). I suppose that's what you get for playing in a building called the Izod Center. Both teams are 13-13 against Eastern Conference opponents.
- Trade rumors have started swirling around Jason Kidd, whose numbers are slightly down this month: 10.9 ppg, 9.9 apg, and 7.7 rpg along with 3.8 to and a Charlie Bell-esque 36.6% shooting. Hard to knock the assist and rebound numbers, but they're under his season averages and Kidd has confirmed that he's spoken to the Nets about the possibility of getting out of Jersey.
While initial reports had Kidd, 34, insisting on being sent to a contender, he said Monday that he realizes there are no guarantees in any scenario. At this point, he simply wants to play for a team that can compete every night and utilize his talents.
"It used to be if I got a triple-double, that was an automatic win," he said. "That's just not the case now. We tried to make this work. We've found out it doesn't. It's time for us all to move on."
- Don't count John Hollinger among the Nets opimists. Last week he noted that as mediocre as their record is, it should probably be worse:
While the Nets are on a 36-win pace that gives them some kind of vague hope of making the playoffs, the cruel truth is they might not even get to 30. Look, I'm searching high and low for optimistic trends, and I'm not finding much. They're 26th in Offensive Efficiency, 25th in Defensive Efficiency, and 26th in scoring margin. They've played more home games than anyone except Charlotte or San Antonio and now will have to navigate through much of the second half out of a suitcase. And their average opponent so far has a .489 winning percentage, so it's not like the schedule is killing them.
In fact, the only reason they're even 18-23 is because they're 12–3 in games decided by five points or less — a glorious fluke that has almost no chance of repeating in their next 15 such games. Basically, they aren't good, and even if Krstic returns they won't get a whole lot better.
- The Bucks have made a habit of beating bad teams and losing to good teams this month: they're 6-0 against sub-.500 teams and 1-8 against winning teams.
- Tom Enlund writes that the Bucks know they still have a playoff chance. But leave it to Andrew Bogut to give an honest assessment of why they're only a game out of the 8th spot:
"It's ridiculous. The East is bad so if we just keep plugging away at it, you never know what might happen at the end of the season. . . . Thirty-five wins might get you a playoff seed in this conference."
- They'll again be without leading scorer Michael Redd, who didn't make the trip to the East Coast due to the strained knee he picked up after awkwardly landing after a dunk against Toronto. Redd will also miss Wednesday's game in Philly but is expected back in the lineup when the Bucks host the Rockets on Saturday. Royal Ivey will start alongside Mo Williams in the backcourt, allowing Mo to see more time at shooting guard.
- On Sunday the Bucks improved to 4-1 without Redd, pulling out a rollercoaster 105-102 win against the Wizards. Andrew Bogut had 18/15 while the Bucks got a combined 64 points and 17 assists from Charlie Bell, Mo Williams, and Royal Ivey. Though they somehow managed to blow an 11 point lead in the last two minutes of regulation, they also showed some moxie in overcoming a four point deficit in OT, with Mo Williams redeeming himself for some regulation mistakes by hitting back-to-back threes to put the Bucks ahead for good. The Bucks played a ton of zone, conceding plenty of points to Caron Butler (40) while holding the rest of the Wizards largely in check.
- Check out Nets Daily and Nets Blast for more coverage of the Nets.