Bucks vs. Spurs Preview | Young Bucks trying to leave a mark in the Lone Star State

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Good shooting kept things closer than expected against Houston, but the Bucks will need to play a complete game if they hope to knock off the San Antonio Spurs on the road.

2013/14 NBA Season
Mil_medium
(5-16, 2-8 home)
@
San
(16-4, 8-2 road)
January 19, 2014
AT&T Center | San Antonio, TX
6:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Patty Mills
Luke Ridnour SG Marco Belinelli
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Kawhi Leonard
John Henson PF Tim Duncan
Larry Sanders C Boris Diaw
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.3 (27th) Pace 94.9 (11th)
98.6 (30th) ORtg 110.0 (3rd)
107.9 (22nd) DRtg 101.9 (5th)

On the SpursPounding the RockProject: Spurs48 Minutes of Hell

Update: Tony Parker out tonight.

The move is simply a precautionary one. Parker had been expected to play, but the Spurs have decided to give him the night off because, well, it's the Bucks.

Spurs Update. Per usual, the Spurs are just wrecking people this season. They boast the second-highest average margin of victory in the NBA (7.7 pts) despite playing the league's 9th-hardest schedule, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Once again, San Antonio's offense is hitting on all cylinders despite being below-average in offensive rebound rate, and only the Bucks and New York Knicks get to the free-throw line less. But San Antonio is shooting the lights out for the 539th straight year, ranking 2nd in eFG% (54.1) thanks in large part to their league-leading 39.9 3P%.

But the Spurs have more company atop of the Western Conference than usual. While Oklahoma City is predictably nipping at their heels, just one game behind them for the conference's top seed, the surprising Portland Trail Blazers are neck-and-neck. Portland earned a big road win in San Antonio last Friday, getting 20-plus points each from LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Wesley Matthews.

That loss means the Bucks are the latest team to try their hand at dealing San Antonio their first back-to-back loss of the season. As nearly every syndicated national media preview for this game points out, that's some pretty fine luck for the Spurs.

Knight's Tale. There's been more to be excited about with the Bucks lately, even as the losses continue to pile up. Larry Sanders and John Henson are finally healthy and playing together, Ersan Ilyasova appears to be starting his New Year's Surge, and Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to astound us, though not as frequently as we might like. But not to be overlooked is the solid play of Brandon Knight since the calendar turned to 2014. In 8 January games, Knight is averaging 18.1 points and 4.4 assists with a 54.8 TS%. His turnovers are down too, though his highest assist totals tend to go hand-in-hand with more miscues. It's still up for debate whether the Bucks can succeed with Knight as their point guard in the long term, but he's certainly fulfilling his "athletic combo guard" role for the time being.

Twin Tubes. But let's get back to Sanders and Henson. We've now amassed 32 total minutes of court time for the Tubemen pairing and the too-early returns have actually been quite good. The Bucks improve on both ends of the court with the pair on the floor, earning a +7.7 net rating. The Bucks shoot more efficiently and rebound better with the Tubemen. Again, this is a tiny sample size, but better to see good results than bad ones.

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