Bucks vs. Pacers Preview: Milwaukee Looks To Pick Up The Pieces, Avoid Indy Sweep

2011/2012 NBA Season

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vs.
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29-32 (14-17 road) 40-22 (21-8 home)
April 19, 2012
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
6:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FS Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG
George Hil
Monta Ellis
SG Paul George
Carlos Delfino SF Danny Granger
Ersan Ilyasova
PF David West
Drew Gooden
C Roy Hibbert

(11th) 106.1 - OFFENSE - 106.5 (9th)
(18th) 105.5 - DEFENSE - 102.7 (9th)
(3rd) 93.4 - PACE - 90.7 (19th)

On the Pacers: Indy Cornrows / Eight Points Nine Seconds / Indy Star

So...where do we go from here?

Taken literally, the Bucks' next destination following their crushing, defenseless loss to the lowly Wizards is Indiana. Taken figuratively, the Bucks' next destination is likely the draft lottery, though there is still some room for a Philadelphia collapse to allow Milwaukee a backdoor entrance into the postseason (let's leave the merits of that scenario as a separate debate). But the more immediate problem is the Bucks' desperate need for a road win over the Pacers, a team that's won six straight, nine of ten and all three of its matchups with Milwaukee so far this season.

It might not be Mission: Impossible, but at a minimum it's Mission: Improbable.

Woelfel: Much at stake for Hammond, Skiles
It seems like it's been a couple days since we last debated the merits of the Bucks' current (mis)direction, so we should probably get back to that, eh? Interestingly, Gery Woelfel reports that Herb Kohl's playoff mandate could cost John Hammond and Scott Skiles their jobs this offseason.

Of course, that will be easily forgotten if the Bucks reach the playoffs, which has always been Kohl’s primary goal for his GMs and head coaches. By making the playoffs, Kohl would also save himself an exorbitant amount of money. Skiles and Hammond each have one more season left on their contracts: Skiles for around $5 million and Hammond for around $2 million.

To me it would seem a bit misguided to let a game or two difference in the standings determine Hammond and Skiles' fate--I don't think Kohl should need the next week to determine if things are on the right track, as the more important question is whether he has faith in his front office and coaching staff to build a consistent winner over the long term. To me that's a body-of-work question, not a can-things-go-right-for-us-in-the-last-five-games type of question. Sneaking into the playoffs probably shouldn't change his view of that, but it's also possible that the Bucks' continued spiral into local irrelevance causes Kohl to feel some kind of shake-up is necessary--if only to create some scapegoats, hope that the fans buy it and give the new regime a chance to figure out what the others could not.

At this point I'd still guess both are back next fall, and the money owed to them is not a trivial part of the equation. But if they do return will Kohl allow both to operate as lame ducks or will he feel the need to extend their contracts just to keep up appearances? It's a particularly important question for Skiles, whose ability to keep a team motivated won't be any easier if he's working on a short leash.

O and D. The Pacers are a nicely balanced bunch, ranking ninth in both offensive and defensive efficiency and showing off both in their current win streak. The Pacers are just the sixth team in NBA history and the first since the 09/10 Lakers to hold six straight opponents under 100 points while scoring more than that themselves.

Chips a-Hoya. Roy Hibbert has recorded double-doubles in the last five games (14.6 ppg, 11.8 rpg) and has put together a very nice month of April (13.5 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.8 bpg, 50.4% shooting). More worryingly, Hibbert has dominated the undersized Bucks in two games this season, totaling 38 points and 23 rebounds on 56% shooting. The Bucks will hope to have Larry Sanders back in the fold after sitting out the Wizards game with stomach flu, but the bottom line is that the Bucks' lack of size/strength up front is likely to be exposed yet again.

By George. The Pacers' current streak has coincided with George Hill's first six starts of the season, with the former IUPUI star deputizing for the injured Darren Collison (groin) and notching 14.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, and 3.7 rpg on .422/.370/.880 shooting as a member of the starting five. Not that Hill has a problem coming off the bench--he scored a season-high 24 on just nine shots against in Milwaukee on March 24.

Home on the Grange. Danny Granger has improved dramatically since the all-star break, shaking off a slow start and hitting his scoring stride in the month of April: 22.5 ppg on .492/.508/.949 shooting splits. Ian Levy reports that Granger's also getting it done in the clutch.

Dynamic Duo? Ellis (14/25 fg, 31 pts, 6 ast) and Jennings (8/19 fg, 25 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 0 to) filled the box score in Washington, but the Bucks are now 0-2 when both score 20+ points.

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