Bucks vs. Cavs Preview: Monta Ellis And Bucks Look To Keep Playoff Pressure On In Cleveland

2011/2012 NBA Season

Mil

vs.

Cle

23-27 (11-16 away) 17-31 (9-16 home)
March 30, 2012
Quicken Loans Arena
6:30 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings PG Kyrie Irving
Monta Ellis SG Anthony Parker
Luc Mbah a Moute SF Alonzo Gee
Ersan Ilyasova PF Antawn Jamison
Drew Gooden C Tristan Thompson

(12th) 105.2 - OFFENSE - 101.7 (24th)
(20th) 105.8 - DEFENSE - 107.8 (25th)
(6th) 93.1 - PACE - 91.7 (13th)

On the Cavaliers: Fear the Sword / Cavs the Blog / Waiting For Next Year

The Bucks look to keep pace with the surging Knicks when they visit Cleveland on Friday night. Milwaukee starts the night 2.5 games behind New York for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, though they also have a game in hand and--as we've been saying for a while now--a more favorable schedule the rest of the way. After tonight, the Bucks have six of their next seven games at home with the lone road game in Washington. In other words, the time is now for the Bucks to make a move.

Streaking. After hanging in the Eastern playoff race for much of the season's first half, the Cavs have lost five in a row, including the last four by at least a dozen points each. On a positive note, there's been no rookie wall to speak of for Kyrie Irving, who continues his likely ROY campaign with a strong March: 19.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 6.9 apg on .450/.351/.879 shooting.

JS: Ilyasova expected back, Delfino stay home
The short bench we saw from the Bucks on Tuesday is likely to get one man longer tonight, as Ersan Ilyasova (back spasms) returned to practice on Thursday and is likely to start on Friday against the Cavs. However, Carlos Delfino will miss his second straight game after suffering a groin injury against the Knicks on Monday, which will presumably mean a second straight start for Luc Mbah a Moute. Defensively, I'd rather match Mbah a Moute against Antawn Jamison, but presumably Ilyasova will draw Jamison while Mbah a Moute would match up with the quicker and smaller Alonzo Gee.

Bucksketball: Udoh’s Role Growing
The first line of Ian Segovia's piece on Ekpe Udoh made me laugh out loud; the rest was just interesting, especially this quote from Udoh about his work on the defensive end.

"I’m confident in defense. Period. I don’t know too much about all the terminology. I can’t just tell somebody just anything. And if they mess up, then it looks bad on the team when it’s really my fault," said Udoh, "A couple of times, I’ve missed some opportunities to be there. I’ve got to get better at that."

Udoh's arrival--and Skiles' immediate confidence in him--would seem to be bad news for fellow sophomore Larry Sanders, though it was encouraging to see the pair play well together against the Hawks. I can never decide what I thinkg of Sanders; he clearly has the physical tools to be a quality rotation player and perhaps even a starter one day, but he just doesn't seem to have the savvy and on-court IQ that Udoh brings. Whatever the case, I'm rooting for him to figure things out and hopeful he'll continue to get minutes in spite of his inconsistency.

SI: Andrew Bogut talks injuries, Bucks divorce, reviving Warriors
As discussed in the comments over the last couple days, Andrew Bogut's post-trade interview with SI's Sam Amick was a candid one; he doesn't seem overly bitter about his exit, but he also isn't papering over his frustrations with the Bucks.

I didn't mind [criticism], but I think at the end of the season professionally it took a toll on me. I'm supposed to be one of the franchise players, so it wouldn't have been a bad thing if they kind of had my back a little bit in that sense rather than me trying to come out and saying, "Well, my elbow is pretty screwed and I'm out here playing at 85 percent for this whole season." But in hindsight, it's one of those things that you learn from and move on from.

Anyone else think that was directed at Skiles? In fairness, pretty much everyone was excusing Bogut's poor offensive performance last year on account of his elbow, but Bogut probably didn't appreciate Skiles challenging his energy and effort on at least a couple occasions. Which is understandable. On the other hand, Bogut doesn't talk at all about his offensive performances being even worse this year in spite of what appeared to be a much healthier elbow.

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