Suns vs. Bucks Preview: Michael Redd Returns To Milwaukee As Bucks Look To Snap Skid

2011/2012 NBA Season

vs.
10-13 (7-3 home) 10-14 (5-8 road)
February 7, 2012
Bradley Center
7:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Steve Nash
Shaun Livingston SG Jared Dudley
Carlos Delfino SF Grant Hill
Luc Mbah a Moute PF Channing Frye
Drew Gooden C Marcin Gortat

(20th) 101.7 - OFFENSE - 100.7 (22nd)
(17th) 103.0 - DEFENSE - 105.1 (22nd)
(10th) 92.4 - PACE - 91.8 (15th)

On the Suns: Bright Side of the Sun / Valley of the Suns

Michael Redd will step on the Bradley Center court for the first time as a visiting player on Tuesday night, as the Phoenix Suns look to win their third straight while dealing the Bucks their third straight loss.

Redd returns. Michael Redd's departure from Milwaukee was decidedly uneventful, an oddly quiet way for one of the franchise's most polarizing (and best) players to walk off into the sunset. I spoke about Redd's complicated Bucks career at Voice on the Floor over a year ago, but my hope is that he's warmly welcomed back to the city where he spent his first decade as a pro.

Redd has mostly struggled since signing with the Suns in December, shooting just 34.8% in 11.2 mpg, though he showed some long-lost signs of life on Saturday with 17 points on 12 shots against the Bobcats. He started that game in place of Jared Dudley, but came off the bench last night in the Suns' 99-90 win over Atlanta.

Home and away. The Bucks lost their 24th straight game in Phoenix a month ago, dropping a rather non-competitive 109-93 decision. Steve Nash dropped 17 assists as Phoenix rolled to its 36th win in 41 tries over the Bucks, who were finishing up an 0-5 Western road swing and playing their fourth consecutive game without Andrew Bogut. The Bucks hopes of winning might start with their ability to defend the P&R, which was a major issue in Phoenix and has been a thorn in the Bucks' side for much of the season. Though he might not be Amare Stoudemire, Marcin Gortat has proven a capable running mate for Nash this season with career-highs of 14.9 ppg (56% shooting) and 10.2 rpg, and he (or perhaps more accurately, Nash) toyed with the Bucks to the tune of 18 points on 9/10 shooting last month.

Nash equilibrium. Nash turns 38 years young today and is expected to play again tonight despite some pain in his right shoulder. It didn't seem to bother him in last night's win in Atlanta, as the two two-time MVP scored 24 on just 12 shots and handed out 11 assists for good measure.

Fast Learners. Quick quiz: which three players lead the Bucks in both PER and win shares/48 minutes? Brandon Jennings would seem to be an obvious choice, and he does indeed lead the team in both PER (20.4) and is second in ws/48 (.148). But few would have predicted over the summer that the other two players would be none other than rookies Tobias Harris (18.4 / .144) and Jon Leuer (18.6 / .180).

Harris was one of the few the only bright spot in Saturday night's 113-90 bludgeoning at the hands of the Bulls, tallying career-highs in points (19), minutes (30), and shots made and attempted (8/14).

Inaction Jackson. So when will we see Stephen Jackson on the court again? Who knows. Jackson did get on the court against Miami last week after Carlos Delfino's early foul trouble, but he's otherwise been notably absent from Scott Skiles' rotation for the better part of two weeks. The Jackson saga has surprisingly had little apparent(*) impact on the team's performance or chemistry, though it's not clear how long the Bucks can afford to keep Jackson rotting on the bench.

The good news is that everybody's saying the right things so far, though one of the issues I find most interesting is Jackson's friendship with fellow Oak Hill alum Brandon Jennings. Jackson has always had a rep for being well liked by teammates, but that's especially the case with Jennings, who has compared the elder Jackson as an older brother of sorts. I don't think it's in anyone's interest to keep Jackson around simply for that reason, but it's a factor worth watching out for. For instance: Charles Gardner writes that Jennings had hoped to see Jackson play some part in the Bulls game:

"Just his presence probably could have changed the game, you just never know. Especially a guy like that who has been sitting down for so long. When they're sitting down for so long and they come in, they've always got that spark that can help us.

"I was a little disappointed, just the fact he didn't get a chance to play and I feel he could have done something for us."

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