On the Spurs:
The Bucks aim for a third straight win over a Texan team as they face the 20-3 Spurs, but they could be seriously shorthanded with news that Andrew Bogut (migraine) and John Salmons (back spasms) will both be game-time decisions. Even if both play, Scott Skiles has already announced that Chris Douglas-Roberts and Ersan Ilyasova will be replacing the offensively-challenged Luc Mbah a Moute and struggling Larry Sanders at the forward positions. [UPDATE: Bogut is expected to start while Salmons is out]
Streaking San Antonio. The Spurs carry a (relatively modest for Texan standards) five-game winning streak into tonight's game after handling the Timberwolves, Hornets, Warriors, Hawks, and Trailblazers -- all with ease. They won those five games by an average of 16.2 points.
And they have already fulfilled their loss quota for the month: San Antonio has lost once per month so far, to New Orleans in October, to Dallas in November, and in L.A. to the Clippers in December.
3 Spurs. The Bucks fired in 9-13 (.692) three-pointers in Dallas on Monday.
The good news is that San Antonio is the third worst team in the NBA at defending threes, as they allow opponents to make 39.8 % from outside. The bad news is that San Antonio is the very best team in the NBA at making threes, converting at a silly 41.3 % clip.
Matt Bonner (.508), James Anderson (.500), Richard Jefferson (.463), Chris Quinn (.429), Gary Neal (.413), George Hill (.404), Manu Ginobili (.368), and Tony Parker (.364) lead the three-point way for the Spurs. Jefferson was good for the Bucks from distance (.397), but nothing quite like this, while Parker (career .312) is now rather deadly from everywhere on the floor.
In between 10 and 15. This is an awkward distance to shoot from, and almost no one really does it very well -- you have to take a little off your shot from 10-15 feet, and that is not easy. Dirk Nowitzki makes more of these shots per game (1.9) than anyone else, and he does it at a very good percentage (.550).
The Spurs shoot 44.1 % from 10-15 feet, second best overall. The Bucks shoot 31.4 % from 10-15 feet, second worst overall. Tony Parker is the master of pulling up from this distance -- he is making 51.4 % of his shots from 10-15 feet.
Stolen. The Spurs have easily the best steal differential in the NBA, at +2.3 per game. They are third overall with 9.1 steals per game and they are only picked off 6.8 times per game.
Meanwhile, in addition to drawing the most fouls of any team, the Bucks also have their passes stolen most infrequently, just 6.1 per game. Just another wacky stat for the NBA's worst, scratch that, second worst (t/y Cleveland) offense.
Duncan/Bogut. Opposing centers had a 5.9 PER against Andrew Bogut this season through Dec. 6, per 82games.com. And in the games since that update, it's not like centers have exactly lit up the Bucks: Roy Hibbert went for 13/5/1, Chuck Hayes 6/5/1, and Tyson Chandler 11/9/0. Not quite 5.9 PER horrible, surely, but not so great either.
To put that 5.9 into perspective, an average PER is 15. Andrew Bogut (19.59), Francisco Elson(11.14), Jon Brockman (10.99), Dan Gadzuric (10.38), Juwon Howard (8.28), Keyon Dooling (7.69), Jason Collins (6.60), and Chris Duhon (naturally, 5.89).
And for those who say Bogut has not faced the best yet, well, he is about to face one of the greatest big men in history of the game. And he has actually fared well against Tim Duncan in the past, most notably with the overtime buzzer-beater in 2005 as a rookie (video, anyone?). It's not like Bogut has owned Duncan or anything even close to that, but even breaking pretty close to even is an accomplishment against someone of Duncan's consistency and calibar. And Bogut's head-to-head numbers (5-4 record, 14.2 points and 11.0 rebounds on 56.9 fg%) are pretty good.
Streak stoppers and title winners. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that every previous time that the Bucks have stopped a 12+ winning streak (like they did against Dallas), the opposing team went on to win the NBA Championship.
Monday was the fifth time in team history that the Bucks have ended a winning streak of at least 12 games. The most famous instance was when Milwaukee ended the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA-record 33-game winning streak on Jan. 9, 1972. The Bucks also ended 12-plus game streaks by the Celtics (1973 -12), 76ers (1983 - 14) and Spurs (2007 - 13).
What do all four teams have in common?
They all went on to win the NBA title that same season.