|2011/2012 NBA Season|
|26-28 (13-12 home)||7-45 (3-25 away)
|April 6, 2012|
|7:30 PM CT|
|Brandon Jennings||PG||Kemba Walker|
|Monta Ellis||SG||Gerald Henderson|
|Shaun Livingston||SF||Derrick Brown|
|Ersan Ilyasova||PF||Byron Mullens|
|Ekpe Udoh||C||Bismack Biyombo|
|(10th) 105.9 - OFFENSE - 96.0 (30th)
|(18th) 105.4 - DEFENSE - 110.1 (30th)
|(4th) 93.2 - PACE - 91.2 (17th)|
Even when facing the worst team in the NBA at home, the Milwaukee Bucks can't afford to let up. With the New York Knicks claiming yet another victory over a team they shouldn't really have beaten--this time taking advantage of the circus that is the Orlando Magic, the Bucks still sit a game-and-a-half back of the Knicks for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. While the Knicks have been earning impressive victories during their current streak, apparently revitalized by the switch to Mike Woodson at head coach, the Bucks have been buoyed by a schedule full of pushovers. That trend continues tonight, when Milwaukee concludes its series with Charlotte in search of another laugher.
Update: Drew Gooden is a LIAR. He will not play tonight. Ekpe Udoh will start in his place again. Luc Mbah a Moute will also miss the game, and will be replaced by Shaun Livingston in the starting lineup.
Numbers Lie: Over their last 15 games, the Bucks have beaten their opponents by an average of 8.13 points per game. Before that stretch began, the Bucks had been outscored by a total of 88 points over the entire season; the Bucks now hold a 34-point advantage in terms of total scoring differential. Since losing to Chicago back on March 7, the Bucks have improved their Pythagorean Winning Percentage by over 10 points, going from a projected 28-win team to one that should be expected to win 34 games (in a 66 game season). If point differential holds any sort of predictive power (it does), the Bucks should at least be holding their own against many of the better teams in the NBA. Yet for some reason, they look like a totally different squad against competent competition. Strange.
Shifting Priorities: While the Bucks are furiously competing for the right to clash with a juggernaut in the first round of the playoffs, the Bobcats have very different goals for the remainder of this season. With a roster dangerously devoid of marquee talent, Charlotte will be using its final few games to explore just what it has in players like Kemba Walker and Byron Mullins, who have recently made their way into the starting lineup ahead of old, banged up, or ineffectual counterparts. The Bobcats' focus is squarely on the future, and with the climb back to relevance looking like a steep one, there's no reason to hold off on starting over.
Draft Update: Just in case this whole playoff push proves futile and the Bucks do find themselves in the lottery with the 11th-worst record or something, here's a quick update on a few big names from college basketball who have recently made decisions on whether to enter the draft or stay in school:
Jared Sullinger - PF, Ohio State - IN
Fab Melo - C, Syracuse - IN
Dion Waiters - G, Syracuse - IN
Austin Rivers - G, Duke - IN
James Michael McAdoo - PF, North Carolina - OUT
Patric Young - F/C, Florida - OUT
Ersan Gettin' Paid: Charles F. Gardner talks about Ersan Ilyasova's drastic improvements and the cash haul it could bring him next season, be it in the NBA or overseas. This much is certain: Ersan will have tons of suitors. He's blowing away his career shooting percentages and has greatly improved his offensive rebounding. As many have pointed out, Ersan could become the first player to average 12 points and 8 rebounds in fewer than 28 mpg since Arvydas Sabonis and Robert Parrish did it back in the '90s.
Brew City Buddies: The Bucks won't be the only professional sports team in action tonight, as the Milwaukee Brewers kick off their National League Central Championship Defense Season (they've insisted we refer to it as such) at Miller Park this afternoon. 3:10 pm central time, meaning you'll have plenty of time to watch both games!
*This is my standings update for today, with updated playoff odds - Steve
|Seed||Team||W||L||PCT||GB||Hollinger Odds||One Day Ago||Two Days Ago||Three Days Ago|
|1||x - Chicago Bulls||43||13||0.768||-||100.00%||100.00%||100.00%||100.00%|
|2||x - Miami Heat||39||14||0.736||2.5||100.00%||100.00%||100.00%||100.00%|
|8||New York Knicks||28||27||0.509||14.5||72.70%||61.10%||58.50%||63.80%|