Hawks vs. Bucks Preview: Milwaukee Sets Sights On First Three-Game Winning Streak Of The Season

2011/2012 NBA Season

vs.

12-5 (4-4 away) 6-9 (4-1 home)
January 23, 2012
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
7:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Jeff Teague PG Brandon Jennings
Joe Johnson
SG Shaun Livingston
Marvin Williams SF Carlos Delfino
Josh Smith PF Jon Leuer
Zaza Pachulia C Andrew Bogut

(9th) 106.2 - OFFENSE - 99.9 (23rd)
(5th) 98.5 - DEFENSE - 102.2 (17th)
(23rd) 90.1 - PACE - 92.4 (13th)

On The Hawks: Peachtree Hoops / Hoopinion / Hawks Str8Talk / Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Milwaukee Bucks haven't had a four-game winning streak since beating the Philadelphia 76ers on April 9th during the 2009-10 season. That's simply too long ago. However, if the Bucks hope to erase that gap and claim another such streak, they first need to secure a three-game winning streak in 2011-12. After Hawks center Al Horford suffered a season-ending injury (torn pectoral) in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Hawks ripped off their own four-game winning streak and have won five of their last six games. To even get to three in a row will not be easy for the Bucks.

"Everybody knows there ain't nothing to do in Milwaukee, man. Everybody knows that, (even) the people that live there." Ah yes, the immortal words of Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith uttered prior to Game 3 in the first round of the 2010 Eastern Conference Playoffs. Although Squad 6 will surely have some choice words for J-Smoove on Monday night, I think I will let the stats do the talking here:

Josh Smith In Milwaukee Since Bashing The City (Five Games, Including Playoffs)

Pts/GM Reb/GM Ast/GM TOV/GM FG% 3PT% TS%
12.8 9.6 1.0 3.3 37.88% 18.18% 42.78%

"Now's the time to roll the barrel, for the gang's all here." If you don't know these lyrics, then there is a very good chance you have never attended a Milwaukee Brewers home game. Anyways, the point to be made here is that the Bucks finally have their full compliment of players. The inactive list has otherwise played out like a tortured game of Whack-A-Mole in the early portion of 2011-12. Beat back Tobias Harrris' strange bout with dehydration? Udrih goes down with a shoulder injury and Mike Dunleavy misses time with a lingering groin injury. Luc Mbah a Moute finally comes back from a knee tendinitis issue? Stephen Jackson oversleeps and gets suspended. The Sunday night win over the Miami Heat marked the first time Scott Skiles actually had everyone at his disposal. Those pesky moles have gone back into their holes....for now. The roster boasted great depth coming into this compressed season, but it has yet to really surface as an asset. Let's see what this Bucks team can do now that everyone is on board and able to contribute. In other words, "now's the time to roll the barrel, for the gang's all here."

Where Does Jon Leuer Fit In? In the last two games, rookie second round pick Jon Leuer has played seven minutes and five minutes, respectively. Perhaps Skiles didn't like the matchups with Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh, but the trend is worth watching. Skiles is a coach who often preaches that performance begets playing time, but Leuer has done little wrong with the opportunities he has been given. With Ersan Ilyasova putting together a nice performance of the bench against the Heat, LRMAM taking more minutes at PF and Drew Gooden still lingering as the uh...veteran...pick-and-pop option, the PF logjam is in full effect. Skiles should make an effort to find meaningful minutes for Leuer, but it won't be easy.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." In response to Stephen Jackson's one-game suspension after oversleeping in New York, Scott Skiles turned to Shaun Livingston as his starting shooting guard. The move has worked out extremely well. Livingston had provided great passing, heady off-ball cuts to help move the defense, a dangerous mid-post package and two very efficient performances as a fill-in at SG. Brandon Jennings has put together two very strong performances with Livingston at his side, but will Stephen Jackson accept a role coming off the bench if it proves to be better for the team? Well, it will please you to know that the words at the top of the paragraph belong to the man himself. When asked how he felt about the starting lineup and his new role off the bench after the win in Miami, S-Jax focused on the right thing in his response: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Who Is Going To Stop Joe Johnson? Hawks guard Joe Johnson has scored at least 20 points in six of his last eight games, and now that Atlanta is without Al Horford, the offense leans heavily on Johnson for points. The Bucks have plenty of talented perimeter defenders to toss at him, so it will be very interesting to see how Skiles wants to matchup with Johnson and Josh Smith. It might tell us a bit about what he thinks Leuer and Livingston are capable of going forward in terms defensive matchups.

Brandon Jennings Doin' Work. Ever since a 7 point performance on 3-11 shooting in a blowout loss to the Philadelpha 76ers, Brandon Jennings has been on an absolute tear. He has averaged nearly 30 points per game over those three contests, hitting 48.5% FG, 35.7%3PT and racking up a spectacular 59.6% TS. If he can keep this up all season he will make a believer out of everyone. It's impossible to not be excited about what he will do next.

Zaza Is Back! Didn't really have much more here. Just always thought Zaza was kind of cool.

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