The Milwaukee Bucks (5-3) play host to the winless New Jersey Nets (0-11) tonight at the Bradley Center. Injuries have been the story for New Jersey as the Nets have become a walking MASH Unit.
Most notably PG Devin Harris, who returned to practice Monday but isn’t expected to play until sometime after Thursday. Harris has missed the last nine games according to Nets official.
Milwaukee is coming off an overtime home loss on Monday when after being down by 18, the Bucks game back and had a chance to win it in regulation, but eventually ended up losing thanks to a Dirk Nowitzki last second fade away 16 footer as time expired.
Rookie PG Brandon Jennings (25/5/5), coming off a record breaking 55 point outing the previous game, had a mere 25 in the loss to Dallas to go with 8 assist and 7 rebounds
The rarified air surrounding his 55 point performance against the Warrior’s has only been breathed by the likes of Chamberlain, Barry, Earl The Pearl and Elgin Baylor as NBA rookie’s.
Jennings continues to impress it seems every game, mostly hitting big shot after big shot when the team most needs it.
In the loss to Dallas they seemed to get away from going down low to fifth year center Andrew Bogut (15/9) when they needed to slow things down.
Bogut himself played his worst game of this five game stretch, turning the ball over in key situations and letting Drew Gooden (Gooden came in averaging just 5 ppg ) go off for 22 points including an offensive put back Bogut should have had blocked out but didn’t, allowing the Mavs to tie the game with under a minute to go.
The Nets second year center Brooke Lopez (18/9) has the size and skill to play with Bogut, so the center matchup between the two should make an interesting sub plot. Lopez is coming off a 26 point 16 rebound effort last night in a 91-83 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Second year player Chris Douglas Roberts had a career high 27 against the Pacers.
Milwaukee’s Michael Redd is due back Friday pending Thursday’s workout in front of doctors. Coach Scott Skiles said he is thinking about a lineup change for tonight’s game, which could mean PF Ersan Ilyasova could be replacing Hakim Warrick as the starter, and/or Luc Richard Mbah A Moute could start at SF in place of the slumping Carlos Delfino.
It should be noted that news recently surfaced that Delfino hasn’t been feeling well physically. He feels weak, his stomach is ailing and he hasn’t felt “right” for a couple of weeks.
Ilyasova and Mbah A Moute combined for 32 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists against the Mavs. Warrick has made a career (and has done well) coming off the bench, plus with Delfino unable to get UN track early, it would make perfect since to shuffle the deck a little.
So tonight we could see starting…
Mbah A moute
Bench would then be…
Skiles thinking had been to start the long, athletic Warrick with Jennings, but that hasn’t worked consistently well as of yet.
Milwaukee has got to go back to the basics of what made them 4-1 in the last five games, and aside form Jennings, defense had been the Bucks calling card. After back to back games having been torched by Golden State and Dallas for 125 points and 115 points on 56% and 51% shooting respectfully, perhaps that could be Skiles thinking if he is to insert the more defensive minded Ersan and Luc.
We’ll know more right before tip off, but defense has to come first. We do that, and continue to play unselfish on the offensive end; New Jersey should walk out of the Bradley Center still searching for their first win.
Here’s to hoping so