Bucks/Hawks: Looking for a road split

Time for another tip.

2009/2010 NBA Playoffs - Round One

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53-29 (34-7 home) 
vs.
46-36 (18-23 road)
April 20, 2010
Philips Arena
6:00 PM
Radio: WTMJ AM 620 TV: FSN Wisconsin/NBA TV
Probable starters:
Mike Bibby
PG Brandon Jennings
Joe Johnson
SG John Salmons
Marvin Williams
SF Carlos Delfino
Josh Smith
PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Al Horford
C Kurt Thomas
Series: Hawks lead 1-0

Hawks Coverage

Peachtree Hoops / HoopinionHawks Str8Talk / Atlanta Journal Constitution

If...
Portland can win in Phoenix without Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, and Utah can win in Denver without Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko, then...

Brandon's buckets.
Brandon Jennings shot 14-25 in Game 1 despite being blocked five times. So 14 of his 20 shots that made it the basket went in. It was just the type of straight-shooting performance that the perimeter-happy Bucks needed to pull out a win in Atlanta. So it is frustrating that Brandon's big night didn't result in a win.

Game One marked the second time that Jennings made 14+ field goals in an NBA game -- the obvious other being when he shot 21-34 for 55 points against the Warriors. So no matter how aggressive, it's not terribly likely (though possible) that Jennings will duplicate his Saturday afternoon performance.

But if he can parlay some of that aggressiveness into trips to the free throw line, that will give him a much better chance to put up points without needing to hit so many tough shots from the field. Brandon stepped up offensively early in the year when Bogut went down, notably making a season-high 9-10 from the stripe in a win over the Grizzlies in the team's second game of the year without Bogut back in November. Some more of that, please.

Minutes and matchups.
For all the talk about Skiles taking Jennings out toward the end of the third quarter and for almost the first four minutes of the fourth (after which he made just 1-5 shots), let's keep in mind that Brandon played more than 40 minutes in Game One. 

He averaged about 32 minutes per game during the regular season and only played 41+ minutes twice since late January. Certainly you want to ride the hot hand, especially in the playoffs, and Jennings wasn't just the hot hand, he was the only hot hand for Milwaukee. But I doubt that a couple more minutes of Brandon would have tipped the scale 10 more points in the Bucks' favor, and he realistically had to sit at some point.

Check out Frank's piece for much more on how the Bucks can deal with the mismatches the Hawks present.

Fast, but slow.
The Hawks are so strong and fast and athletic at every position that you can be misled into thinking that they are a running team. In reality, they averaged the third fewest amount of possessions per game in the NBA during the regular season. Granted, they hit the Bucks in the first quarter with a few steal-and-dunks, but in general the Hawks do most of their damage in the halfcourt. After Bogut went down, Skiles spoke about hoping to push the ball a bit more offensively, but they weren't exactly runnin' and gunnin' even with the smaller units on the floor on Saturday.

Bucksketball: Is Mike Bibby a real problem?
In both the final regular season matchup and Game One, Atlanta's starting point guard (and supposed weak link) played a serious role in pushing the Hawks to 30+ point first quarters by raining triples early. Normally you want to make Bibby beat you, but that becomes less attractive when Bibby actually keeps beating you.

And while he is probably still the least of Milwaukee's problems, Bibby is coming into the playoffs on a bit of a hot streak shooting the ball. A 37.5 % three point shooter on the season, he hit 49.3 % from deep in March and 37.9 % in April before making all three from outside in Game One.

Hoopinion: Game One video breakdown
Some nice video breakdowns from Saturday.

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