Spurs/Bucks: Preview

Spurs (39-17, 15-12 road, 2nd West) @ Bucks (22-36, 16-11 home, 12th East)

Gametime: 7:30 pm CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/Free NBA Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 19th (102.0 pts/100 poss), Defense 30th (108.8), Rebounding 19th (.500 rr), Pace 23rd (92.9)
Spurs Stats: Offense 11th (105.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 3rd (99.7), Rebounding 9th (.511 rr), Pace 28th (90.7)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Charlie Villanueva / Andrew Bogut
Spurs Lineup: Tony Parker / Manu Ginobili / Bruce Bowen / Fabricio Oberto / Tim Duncan

Bucks Injuries: Ramon Sessions has recovered from his broken hand, but is unlikely to be active.
Spurs Injuries: None really.

07/08 Series: 1-0 Spurs. The Spurs beat the Bucks 113-88 on Nov. 11 in San Antonio.

Key Points:

  • The Spurs have lost only once this month, a 98-90 defeat to the Celtics on Feb. 10. On Thursday they beat the Mavericks 97-94 behind 31 points and 15 rebounds by Tim Duncan. Apparently they are gunning for home-court, but someone needs to tell the Spurs it's not May, so there is no need to get so serious. It's just not like them.
  • SI.com's Ian Thompson calls the Spurs the favorites to win the championship.

    The only question here is whether you think the Spurs are too gray. But note that their rivals -- including Phoenix, Dallas and Boston -- made trades to get older. It used to be that teams would acquire size in hopes of matching up against Shaq; now they trade for experience in to order to execute at the Spurs' level.

  • The Bucks are coming off a 120-106 loss to the Nets on Thursday, a game in which they relied on Redd, Bogut, and Williams to score 79 of their 106 points. In fact, the Bucks' bench has combined for just 14 points in the last two games. Opponents benches have totaled 86 points in the last two games. Only one time in the last five games has a Buck scored in double figures off the bench; Charlie Bell scored 10 against the Pistons on Feb. 21.
  • The Bucks' starting backcourt is hot, writes Charles Gardner.

    The 6-foot-6 Redd is averaging 29.0 points in the five games since returning from the break, and Williams is averaging 22.8 points during that span.

    Redd said there was a reason for his approach.

    "I'm attacking and just trying to be aggressive every play and every game," Redd said. "Not that I wasn't before the break. But it's an emergency now, so I've got to be aggressive."

  • The Spurs are the only team who had two players in the top ten of the latest Blogger MVP/ROY Rankings. Granted, neither Tim Duncan nor Manu Ginobili have a good shot of breaking into the top five of the voting, blogger-style or real, but they are both having terrific seasons. Duncan has been typically steady, averaging 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. He's also hitting 72.1 % from the line, his best mark since 2002. Ginobili is having his finest season as a pro, averaging career highs in points (20.5), rebounds (5.0), assists (4.7), and three-point shooting (41.8 %).
  • The Bucks are now ranked last overall in defensive efficiency, meaning they allow more points per 100 possessions than anyone else, including the Timberwolves, Knicks, and Grizzlies.
  • Since arriving from Memphis, point guard Damon Stoudamire is averaging 5.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on 35.5 % shooting in 18.7 minutes. We'll assume the Spurs are happy to have Tony Parker back. Parker returned on Feb. 21 after missing three weeks because of an ankle injury. He got back just in time to watch Manu Ginobili go for 44 points on 18 shots, capped by a game-winner in a 100-99 win over the Timberwolves.
  • Only the Pistons and Trail Blazers play at a slower pace than the Spurs, which is reason enough to hope we don't get stuck with another Pistons/Spurs Finals this year. It's interesting to note that the six slowest paced teams (Trail Blazers, Pistons, Spurs, Raptors, Mavericks and Hornets) are winning teams, and four of them have title aspirations. Then again, four of the six fastest teams (Nuggets, Warriors, Suns, Lakers) are pretty formidable themselves. Go figure.
  • The Spurs traded Francisco Elson and Brent Barry for Kurt Thomas, who figures to fit in well within the Spurs defense-first, team concept. The Spurs are Thomas' fifth team, following stints with the Heat, Mavericks, Suns, Sonics. Thomas pulled down nine rebounds and blocked two shots in 13 minutes in his first game with the Spurs on Feb. 25.
  • The Bucks are 16-11 at home this year, better than the Spurs' 15-12 road record. Shouldn't that make the Bucks favorites? No? Okay.
  • Check out Pounding The Rock and the San Antonio Express-News for more on the Spurs.
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