Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
The Milwaukee Bucks have lost five straight games to the Indiana Pacers. But without Danny Granger, and a Pacers team that is short on scoring ability, that could end quickly tonight.
|2012/2013 NBA Season|
|November 14, 2012|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ|
|George Hill||PG||Brandon Jennings|
|Lance Stephenson||SG||Monta Ellis|
|Paul George||SF||Tobias Harris|
|David West||PF||Ersan Ilyasova|
|Roy Hibbert||C||Samuel Dalembert|
|2012/13 Advanced Stats|
|89.4 (28th)||Pace||96.4 (1st)|
|96.0 (29th)||ORtg||102.3 (19th)|
|98.2 (5th)||DRtg||100.4 (11th)
The Winter Of George(s) and West. I bet you didn't know Paul George leads the NBA in minutes, and his teammates George Hill (13th) and David West (19th) also rank in the top 20. This has as much to do with Danny Granger's expected three month absence as it does the Pacers offseason overhaul of a bench that now features a herd of "meh," including mainstay Tyler Hansbrough, DJ Augustine, Ian Mahinmi, and Gerald Green. The Bucks have depth (1st in the NBA in bench ppg, 1st in rpg). The Pacers do not (25th in bench ppg, 9th in rpg).
Still, David West brings tidings of bad news for Bucks fans, as he has historically put up All-Star numbers against Milwaukee (18.5 ppg (51.5% fg), 9.4 rpg, 2.3 apg). West does most of his damage against the Bucks out of quick basket cuts on pick-and-rolls and his general badass physicality around the basket. Indiana has won five straight against Milwaukee, so there's that, too.
Ersan Ilya-story. The trials and tribulations of Ersan Ilyasova will hover like a building cumulonimbus cloud over every Bucks game until he turns things around. Against the Pacers, that seems unlikely, as Ilyasova has averaged 10 ppg (42.6% fg, 28.6% fg), 4.8 rpg against Indiana for his career (13 games), although he should get some outside looks. Ilyasova has 35 career three point attempts against the Pacers, his second most against any NBA team.
Like Scott Skiles said in his post-game presser after Saturday night's loss to the Boston Celtics, it might be best to just let Ersan persevere through his slumping confidence and subsequent shooting motion, rather than try to tinker with something that seems so beyond repair at the moment.
Offensive premiums. What success Indiana has had this season has come from their ability to defend the rim (54.1% FG, 2nd in NBA), snuff out easy buckets in transition (9th in NBA, 1.01 PPP), and keep their noses clean while doing so (20.5 opponent free throw rate, 1st in NBA). Indiana doesn't create a lot of turnovers (12.08 turnover rate, 30th in the NBA), but they don't need to with Roy Hibbert (4th in orebs, 4th in bpg) manning the pivot and Paul George (my man crush) closing off penetration lanes along the perimeter. It's not surprising four Pacers rank in the top 20 for defensive win shares.
Indiana has only topped the century mark once this season, and that game was an overtime win against the Sacramento Kings, but the Pacers' defense is built to withstand a fast-paced, small ball attack like the Bucks'. If Milwaukee loses, it'll come from poor shooting and Indiana's defensive prowess, both of which have been issues in the last two Bucks home games (0-2, 39% fg, 91 ppg). If the Bucks can get Indiana's starters into early foul trouble and force Frank Vogel to go to his bench, Milwaukee has a good chance of extending the Pacers' road losing streak to five games. Full disclaimer: I've been completely wrong about a similar conjecture in the past 48 hours.