Bucks/Cavaliers: Trying to get back on top of the Central

2010/2011 NBA Season

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5-8 (2-4 home) 5-8 (2-4 home)
November 24, 2010
Quicken Loans Arena
6:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG
Mo Williams
John Salmons
SG Anthony Parker
Luc Mbah a Moute SF Joey Graham
Drew Gooden
PF J.J. Hickson
Jon Brockman
C Anderson Varejao

(30th) 99.4 - OFFENSE -  103.1 (25th)
(2nd) 99.1 - DEFENSE - 108.8 (21st)
(22nd) 91.2  - PACE -  92.9 (16th)
On the Cavaliers: 

Fear The Sword / Cavs The BlogFox Sports Ohio / Cleveland.com

Tied down. A season after finishing first and second in the division respectively, the Cavaliers and Bucks are tied in the Central Division at 5-8 (the Pistons are 5-9) and both are riding three-game losing streaks. Then again, they are also both just 3.0 games behind the first place Bulls.

Last night. Granted, the Pacers had just rocked the Heat in Miami a night earlier, but Cleveland is coming off a 101-89 loss in Indianapolis in a game that was not as close the score indicates. The Pacers dropped 62 points on the Cavs in the first half, and they were up by 34 shortly after halftime. Cleveland had a Bucksian one starter in double figures scoring, and that was Joey Graham, with 11. Yikes.

Bogut doubtful. Andrew Bogut is doubtful tonight after aggravating his back in the second half against the Thunder, per Charles Gardner. [Update: Scott Skiles has announced he'll be starting Jon Brockman in Bogut's absence]

More important is that his MRI came back negative, so this is only a matter of a game or two.

Cleveland is a pretty bad offensive team (writing for a Bucks website, I should talk), so this isn't the worst timing in the world. Anderson Varejao is averaging a career-high 9.1 points per game, but that has a lot more to do with him also averaging career highs in minutes (32.3) and field goal attempts (7.5) than anything else. J.J. Hickson has a couple moves around the hoop, but he's shooting more than ever (10.9 field goals per game) and making a lot less (career-worst 46.8 fg%).

The key for whomever is guarding Hickson will be too push him out of his comfort zone. J.J. is good at the rim (60.0 %) and okay from inside ten feet (46.2 %), but is willing and unable from 10-15 feet (2.1 attempts per game, 24.0 %).

Bogut had blocked 18 shots in the past four games and Hickson is among the most blocked players in the NBA, getting stuffed on 16.5 % of his attempts, so that's a potentially missed opportunity. But Drew Gooden is on a three-game block streak of his own as his defensive activity has coincided with his offensive rebirth over the past week and a half. If Gooden guards Varejao, the two will know each other's games well -- they played together in Cleveland for four seasons.

Mo is less. A few weeks ago I wrote about how Carlos Delfino was the lowest scoring team-leading scorer in the NBA. Since then, Brandon Jennings (17.3) has sort of blown past everyone and sits 4.4 points per game ahead of Delfino (12.9) and Maggette (12.9).

Now Daniel Gibson, at 14.2 per game, holds distinction as the lowest scoring team-leading scorer, just ahead of Mo Williams, averaging 13.5. Mo is playing the fewest minutes (25.5) and shooting the lowest percentage from the field (40.4 %) since his rookie season back in 2003-04 with the Jazz. And after hitting on 43.6 % and 42.9 % on threes in his first two seasons with the Cavs, he has made just 4-26 (15.4 %) from long range so far this season.

Sesh. For more than a couple days, Ramon Sessions was my favorite basketball player going. There were times in 2008 and 2009 when there wasn't much of anything to look forward to except hoping that Sessions would do something special: from a buzzer beater to 24 assists, from 44 points to a triple-double.

Still just 24 years old, Sessions is now playing for his third different team and third different bad team (Bucks, Timberwolves, Cavaliers). I am chalking that mostly up to coincidence, as Sessions himself has been pretty decent in each stop. And while he has yet to reach his Bucks heights and is off to a slow start so far with the Cavs, Sessions did well (15/6/5) last night.

In any event, the Cavs are cornering the market on former Bucks starting point guards.

Strength/Weakness of Schedule. The Bucks have played the fifth most difficult schedule in the NBA (opponents have a .560 winning percentage) while the Cavaliers have played the 22nd most difficult schedule (.468 opponent winning percentage). So all 5-8s are not created equally.

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