Larry Sanders will start at center for the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, and it's a watershed moment for multiple players on the roster. For Sanders, it's a leap that he hasn't wanted to take -- on Monday he declined the opportunity to start vs. the Hornets when Scott Skiles approached him about the opportunity -- so it will be very interesting to see how Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan attack Sanders. Will they go hard at him and try to force him into early foul trouble that the young big man has been able to avoid while coming off the bench?
This is also a big moment for Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. For anyone wondering why Skiles has made so many changes to the starting lineup over the past week, the reason is clear to me -- he's trying to find some combination of players that can turn the Jennings-Ellis pairing into a net-positive group on the floor. Both guards play a ton of minutes, but there is a distrubing trend that has developed due to their inefficient offensive production and defensive...errr...shortcomings: the lineups they dominate routinely get outscored by opposing quintets.
Poor defenders like Samuel Dalembert and Tobias Harris have been shuffled out of the starting five, and now stout defenders like Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and Marquis Daniels are getting the nod to start the game. Can they get Jennings and Ellis "above water" on the scorebooard more often? Luc Mbah a Moute is yet another player they could try in the future, but this is the best defensive frontcourt the Bucks can put on the court.
What happens if defense is still an issue? Ekpe Udoh took a lot of flack for what Robin Lopez did on Monday, but he was forced to help off Lopez to cut off penetrating guards on most plays where Lopez scored -- it wasn't like Udoh was being destroyed in isolations or one-on-one plays. These are the best of the Tube Men when it comes to defense, so this smells like a last gasp effort to salvage the Jennings-Ellis experiment.
Check out Pounding The Rock for more on the Spurs.