Milwaukee Bucks vs. Charlotte Bobcats Preview: Down and (kind of) out

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Since last meeting in early November, the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats moved out of their cages in the Eastern Conference playoff zoo and are currently tapping the glass on the outside.

2012/2013 NBA Season
Mil_medium
(8-9, 4-4 home)
vs.
(7-10, 2-4 road)
December 7, 2012
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
No Local TV (NBA League Pass Only) | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Brandon Jennings PG Kemba Walker
Monta Ellis SG Gerald Henderson (?)
Marquis Daniels SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Ekpe Udoh PF Byron Mullens
Larry Sanders C Brendan Haywood
2012/13 Advanced Stats
93.7 (4th) Pace 92.6 (12th)
102.0 (23rd) ORtg 101.3 (27th)
104.6 (16th) DRtg 107.0 (22nd)

On the Bobcats: Rufus On Fire | Queen City Hoops | Bobcats Baseline

Round 2. In the first game between the Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks, our favorite stags hacked away a lead (-19 free throw differential), and missed obligatory double digit shots from beyond the arc (2-16 3fg). Charlotte also bested Milwaukee in defensive rebounding and turnover scoring (two of the Bucks' biggest advantages), despite leaving much to be desired offensively in the paint. This time, Milwaukee will be without its best shooter (Mike Dunleavy) and bench job creator (Beno Udrih). That shouldn't hurt the Bucks' turnover margins, but we've seen how a bench void of offensive-minded veterans can change a game for the worse. Also, Charlotte gets its Monta stopper back (Gerald Henderson), although he may not have to do much if Ellis' recent stretch of bad shooting continues (39% fg, 19% 3fg in last 10 games).

Everybody do the lineup shuffle. The Bucks had the same starting lineup through the first 10 games of this season (6-4 record). Over the previous seven matchups, Scott Skiles has shuffled those cards four times (2-5 record). There's been a lot of huffing and puffing about Skiles' inconsistent minute allocation hurting the team's chemistry and preventing useful players from getting regular chances to prove themselves. On a team with so many interchangeably skilled players in the frontcourt, there's definitely something to that frustration, even with recent injuries taken into account.

Still, the same reason Skiles' lineup roulette is confusing is the same reason it makes sense: no one is good enough to take a position and run with it, and there's always a trade-off in specialization (Tobias Harris with offense, or Marquis Daniels with defense). Of course, if the team starts winning with the roulette wheels constantly spinning, this becomes a moot point. If they keep piling up losses against mediocre teams, like Peter Jackson movies, the storyline will never end when it should.

Offensive slump meets a defensive sieve. Both the Bucks and Bobcats have been on a slide since their meeting earlier this year, but their paths to the bottom have been markedly different. Milwaukee has failed to top 100 points in seven straight games. The Bucks have also become a model in bad shooting, breaking the 100 point offensive efficiency barrier just once in their last nine games, and even that game was an anomaly. Meanwhile Charlotte, losers of five straight, has given up 100 or more points in their last three games (all at home), while registering defensive efficiency numbers above 102 in all five losses. Either something gives with one or both teams, or nothing gives and we're treated to a college-level NBA game.

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