Suns vs. Bucks Preview: Milwaukee begins the post-Skiles era

USA TODAY Sports

One day after agreeing to part ways with their head coach, the Milwaukee Bucks welcome the Phoenix Suns to the BMO Harris Bradley Center in the midst of a 4-game slide.

2012/2013 NBA Season
Pho
(12-23, 2-14 road)
vs.
Mil_medium
(16-16, 9-8 home)
January 5, 2012
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Goran Dragic PG Brandon Jennings
P.J. Tucker SG Monta Ellis
Jared Dudley SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Luis Scola PF Ersan Ilyasova
Marcin Gortat C Larry Sanders
2012/13 Advanced Stats
92.1 (12th) Pace 93.6 (7th)
103.7 (18th) ORtg 101.8 (27th)
108.0 (27th) DRtg 103.2 (8th)

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

Update: Jim Paschke tweets that Jim Boylan's first decision as new Bucks coach will be to move Ersan Ilyasova back into the starting lineup. Which is cool with me, since it's exactly what we argued the Bucks needed to do last week.

Skiles Out. The Bucks will play their first game in over four years without Scott Skiles as head coach after he and the team agreed to immediately part ways Monday night. The arrangement was reported as a mutual decision, for what it's worth. Jim Boylan will take over head coaching duties for the remainder of the season, which would be consistent with the Bucks deferring virtually all major decisions until the summer. For expanded coverage of Scott Skiles' departure, check out our StoryStream.

Suns update. The Bucks have lost four in a row, but it could be worse: they could be the Suns. After starting a respectable 11-15, Phoenix has dropped eight of nine games and starts a four game Eastern trip on Tuesday night in Milwaukee, which is bad news for a team that's just 2-14 on the road. The Suns aren't kidding themselves either; Alvin Gentry admits his club is "in a bad spot right now." Though maybe a tumble into the abyss is exactly what the franchise could use after slowly tumbling from relevance over the past few years. It's not like low-level playoff contention is all that glamorous, eh Bucks fans?

As for what's going right, the Suns' defense hasn't actually been that bad of late, and the Suns actually have four starters with above-average PERs: Goran Dragic (18.4), Luis Scola (17.4), Marcin Gortat (17.2), and Jared Dudley (15.8).

Home. One of the Bucks' biggest issues this season: an inability to defend their home court. Over at Bucks.com, Alex Boeder notes that Milwaukee has never finished with a better record at home than on the road, yet at 9-8 at home and 7-8 on the road, it's not out of the question.

Ersan returns. Good news: the Bucks expect to be back at full strength on Tuesday, as Ersan Ilyasova should be available after missing Saturday night's game with a sprained ankle.

Brandon's audition. After failing to reach an extension with the Buck over the summer, Brandon Jennings termed this season as an "audition" for the entire league. So far...meh. Jennings' overall numbers are flat or down from a year ago, which is a troubling sign for a player whose overall stats had improved in both his second and third years.

Those problems have been particularly acute on short rest: Jennings is shooting just 29% and averaging a paltry 11.6 ppg and 4.6 apg when he has zero days of rest, and the Bucks are just 1-6 on the second night of back-to-backs. It's not a problem Jennings has had in prior seasons, but he's also never played 38 minutes per game, either. Whatever the cause, don't call Brandon oblivious to the problem.

"I have been struggling with the back-to-backs so far, especially with my shooting," Jennings said after Saturday's game. "It hasn't been what I want it to be."

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