Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
All eyes figure to be on Monta Ellis and Andrew Bogut tonight, as Ellis returns to the Bay Area for the second time since the blockbuster that sent him to Milwaukee and Bogut faces the Bucks for the first time in his career.
Warriors update. Golden State continues to hold down the 6th spot out West despite some rather ordinary play of late, as their scoring differential has curiously wandered into the negative despite a record seven games over .500. In their last 16 games they've gone just 5-11, though it's important to note that they were 4-2 at home in that span compared to just 1-9 on the road. One of those home losses came last night to the Rockets, who moved to within a game of the Warriors for #6 behind 26 points from Chandler Parsons. Golden State got a combined 46 points from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but Mark Jackson's club had little help beyond that. The Warrior bench hit just 5/19 shots and combined for a meager 17 points, while Andrew Bogut (1/5 fg, 3 pts, 11 rebs, 4 stl) and David Lee (7/12 fg, 16 pts, 5 rebs) couldn't make up the difference. Lee played after suffering a knee contusion last night, but latest word is that he's questionable tonight.
Bogut vs. Bucks. Milwaukee's one-time franchise center missed this fixture last year (broken ankle) and was in street clothes when the Bucks downed the Warriors in Milwaukee two months ago. But he's now played in three straight games (albeit not at full strength...as usual) and figures to face his former teammates for the first time tonight.
Bogut has not surprisingly struggled offensively through 15 games, hitting less than 48% of his field goals and converting just half of his foul shots. He's still a solid rebounder (16.3% rebound rate) and top-notch shot-blocker (2.3 blocks/36 minutes), but the Warriors have been dramatically better on both ends without Bogut, allowing 4.9 pts/100 fewer defensively and scoring 3.0 pts/100 more.
The upside of Bogut's departure from Milwaukee has been the emergence of Larry Sanders, who has gone from foul-prone rotation guy to all-world defender this season. Sanders' length helped stifle Lee when the teams faced off in Milwaukee, and since the all-star break he's put up 11.6 ppg, 12.1 rpg and his usual 3.3 blocks per contest.
Jennings vs. Curry. Brandon Jennings is passing like never before, but it seems impossible for Jennings to do anything (good or bad) without his impending free agency becoming a talking point. You can't fault Jennings for trying to create some leverage; talking about the qualifying offer is the only real way for a restricted free agent to do that short of demanding a trade, and John Hammond has played his side of the game by warning off potential suitors that the Bucks will match any offer sheet Jennings receives. It'd be nice if Jennings didn't feel the need to make it such a public issue, but as long as he's playing well we won't be complaining.
Over his last three games he's averaged an incredible 16.0 apg in addition to 16.3 ppg and just 2.3 turnovers, totaling the most assists over a three game span of anyone in the NBA this season. Not bad for a guy whose previous career-high (13) was the same as Drew Gooden's.
There's been no such controversy in Golden State, where the Warriors took a chance on Steph Curry's surgically repaired ankle before the season started and have been handsomely rewarded with an all-star caliber season. Golden State inked Curry to a new four-year, $44 million deal back in October and he's delivered a career-best 22.1 ppg and 6.7 apg since then, hitting his usual 45% from deep and putting up his typically sensational 58% true shooting. His 54 point effort at Madison Square Garden didn't hurt any of those numbers, and since the all-star break he's putting up an awesome 26.9 ppg and 7.5 apg.
Monta have it all. Let's not forget about Mr. Ellis, OK? In the last five games he's posted 25.6 ppg, 7.2 apg and 3.8 spg while hitting 50% or better of his shots in the last three games, easily his best stretch of play in a Milwaukee uniform.
Ersan hurting. Ilyasova is listed as questionable after suffering a bruised knee in L.A., with Ted Davis tweeting that Mike Dunleavy would slide into the starting lineup for the first time this season should Ersan be unavailable. It makes sense: Luc Mbah a Moute is very used to playing power forward, allowing Dunleavy to slot in at his usual small forward spot to replace Ilyasova's floor-stretching ability.