Heat/Bucks: LeBron James leads streaking Miami into BC

2010/2011 NBA Season

Mia_medium

vs.
Mil_medium
13-8 (3-5 road) 7-12 (5-4 home)
December 6, 2010
Bradley Center
7:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Carlos Arroyo PG Brandon Jennings
Dwyane Wade SG John Salmons
LeBron James SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Chris Bosh PF Larry Sanders
Zydrunas Ilgauskas C Andrew Bogut

(4th) 110.1 - OFFENSE -  100.0 (30th)
(2nd) 101.0 - DEFENSE - 101.8 (6th)
(20th) 91.0  - PACE -  91.0 (20th)
On the Heat:

Peninsula is Mightier / Miami Herald

Two days after outlasting the injury-depleted Magic, the Bucks will look to make it two in a row over Floridian opponents when they get their first look at LeBron James in a Heat uniform. 

Big Three shaping up. The criticism of the Heat coming into the season was that they lacked the depth to hang with the more balanced NBA elite, and so far they've beat up on sub-.500 squads (10-1) while struggling against teams with winning records (3-7). It still seems early to be worrying too much about a team that's essentially brand new, especially given the long-term injuries to Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, but it's not like anyone was expecting them to be able to avoid the spotlight. On Saturday the Heat followed up their annihilation of the Cavs by dusting the Hawks 89-77 in Miami, their fourth straight win. James, Wade and Bosh combined for 75 of the Heat's 89 points, and for the season the trio is averaging 63.8 ppg. 

D'ing up. Luc Mbah a Moute saw plenty of Wade and James in his first two NBA seasons, but never while playing for the same team. That means Luc will have the difficult task of containing James at the outset while John Salmons starts against Wade, though the Bucks can also take some solace in the fact that there's only one ball that the two superstars have to share. Miami has been among the league's best offenses thus far (4th in efficiency) and even better on the defensive end (2nd), and their league-best differential means they also have the highest expected winning percentage of any team in the league (.771) despite sporting just the 10th best actual winning percentage (.619).

Bogut vs. Z. The soft spot of the Heat defense would seem to be at center, where the slow-footed Zydrunas Ilgauskas has been splitting time with the undersized Joel Anthony, the recently acquired Erick Dampier and Jamaal MagloireAl Horford made 10/11 shots on Saturday against the Heat, so the Bucks will be hoping to take similar advantage of the Heat up front. Bosh has also played a fair bit of center when paired with Haslem up front, but it seems like Bosh is mainly sticking to PF now that Haslem is hurt and Dampier has been brought on board.

Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut sliced up the Magic P&R defense a number of times on Saturday, so you'd have to think the Bucks will look to make Ilgauskas come out and defend on the perimeter early on. Jennings has often struggled to make quick decisions when teams double or show hard with their big men in P&R, so it was refreshing that he saw the entire court and passed so decisively against Orlando. The fact that the Magic's other defenders didn't offer much help when Bogut came steaming down the lane also simplified things, though Bogut's 13 made field goals came in all shapes and sizes.

The 7'3" lgauskas is tougher to shoot over down low, so ideally the Bucks will also try to get Bogut the ball on the move--we all know he likes catching at the top and driving left, which he used a couple times against Marcin Gortat on Saturday. Anthony is the opposite of Ilgauskas in many ways, a more mobile weakside shot-blocker who doesn't have the size to bang down low.

Dooling getting the point? Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin mentioned during Saturday's broadcast that Keyon Dooling has played much better at point guard than at off guard, though I didn't get around to looking up the numbers until Victor mentioned it in the post-game comments. Via 82games, his shooting differential is pretty amazing: Dooling's eFG% is an excellent 56.3% eFG at PG (12% of available team minutes) but a terrible 27.1% eFG at SG (20% of available min). The flip side is that his defense has been notably better at the 2, though opponent stats are always worth taking with a grain of salt. Thankfully, the return of Chris Douglas-Roberts has meant Skiles has bench options other than Dooling at the 2.

Bogut/Sanders. Andrew Bogut and Larry Sanders are the Bucks' two best shot-blockers, but they hadn't played a minute of regular season action together until starting alongside each other on Saturday. Sanders was fairly quiet offensively with four points and four boards in 12 minutes, but the fact that he outscored Rashard Lewis when they were matched up made it a very successful night. Rightly or wrongly, I doubt Skiles would start Sanders ahead of a healthy Drew Gooden at PF at this point, but it'll be a moot point so long as Gooden is sidelined by plantar fasciitis. A Sanders vs. Bosh matchup on Monday would make for a stern test of Sanders' progress as a defender, though Bogut has also defended Bosh in the past.

Speaking of Bogut's defense, his 82games splits paint a rather remarkable picture of his defensive performance thus far. We all know about his shot-blocking, but opposing centers have been completely ineffective against Bogut thus far, shooting just 33.1% eFG and posting an awful 5.9 PER and 9.8 points per 48 minutes. Those numbers are through 11/29, so they don't even include Marcin Gortat's forgettable Saturday night either: 35 min, 1/4 fg, 2 pts, 10 rebs, 6 pf.

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