The Bucks will be without Andrew Bogut when they return home from blowout losses in Atlanta and Boston to face Dwight Howard and Orlando Magic.
Bogut out. I suppose it's only fitting, right? A day after Bogut was the Bucks' only bright spot in Atlanta, Milwaukee's only hope against Dwight Howard has been ruled out of tonight's game for as-yet-unspecified reasons. Larry Sanders will apparently start in his stead, though I'm hoping garbage-time all-star Earl Barron also gets an early look. Not that he has any hope of stopping Howard either, but Barron at least deserves to be thrown a bone for his efforts (however futile) in Boston and Atlanta
Colonel Sanders. Like basically everyone on the Bucks, Larry Sanders is a terribly inefficient scorer. With a true shooting percentage of 44.0%, Sanders would rank 57th out 59 centers (just behind Ben Wallace) if he had enough minutes to qualify. Then again, Bogut isn't much better at 48.5% (53rd).
After watching him in Vegas, I figured Sanders would be a bit frustrating offensively because a) he seemed too weak to finish consistently in the paint and b) he loved shooting jump shots. As it turns out he's been plenty frustrating, and mainly because of that aforementioned obsession with jump shots. Despite nice form and some obvious raw talent, he's making just 29% of his long twos, which is rather problematic since he takes nearly 40% of his shots from that distance. His inconsistent jump shot has completely offset his effectiveness around the cup, where he's made 15/18 (83%) in the last month. Though I wouldn't call him a great finisher, he's been better than I expected--or at least he knows his limitations--and is finishing around the rim at an excellent 64% for the season.
Fresh faces. The last time the Magic visited Milwaukee, they were missing most of their starting lineup thanks to a nasty virus that sent Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Mickael Pietrus, and J.J. Redick back home to sunny FLA. That meant a makeshift starting lineup of Chris Duhon (now on the bench), Vince Carter (since traded to Phoenix), Quentin Richardson (bench), Rashard Lewis (since traded to Washington), and Marcin Gortat (also in Phoenix), a group that Andrew Bogut abused for 31 points and 18 boards in 96-85 win.
Alas, the Magic tonight bear little resemblance to that squad; Dwight and Jameer are back, plus they have Turkoglu and J-Rich at the swing spots and some interesting names off the bench: Brandon Bass as the post option andand some guy named Gilbert Arenas (Redick is out with an abdomen injury). Still, for all their talent they've fallen behind the elite of the East and currently sit fourth in the conference at "just" 42-26, having lost four of their last six.
Blowouts. The Bucks have played five straight games in which the final margin was at least 19 points, winning the first three and of course losing the last two. Before that streak, they had played only seven games decided by 19 or more all season.
JS: Bucks prefer playoffs to lottery
Ah yes, a common theme in Milwaukee for the last couple decades: to tank or not to tank? You can guess where Scott Skiles comes out on this topic.
"There are a lot of things to weigh philosophically within your franchise," Skiles said. "Do you want to just be good for a while? Do you believe you should strip the whole thing down and start all over?
"Everybody is weighing those decisions. But for us, having made it last year and getting our feet wet a little bit, it's important for us to do everything we can to try to get back in."