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Bucks/Knicks: Preview

Bucks (7-6, 1-5 road, 5th East) @ Knicks (4-10, 4-3 home, 12th East)

Gametime: 6:30 PM CT
TV:  No Wisconsin TV/League Pass/NBA LP Broadband/Streams for Tonight's Game
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ NBA.com
Bucks Gameday

Bucks Stats: Offense 13th (103.4 pts/100 poss), Defense 26th (106.7), Pace 24th (93.0), Rebounding 9th (.510 rr)
Knicks Stats: Offense 28th (95.8), Defense 28th (107.6), Pace 15th (94.8), Rebounding 8th (.510 rr)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Yi Jianlian / Andrew Bogut
Knicks Lineup: Stephon Marbury / Jamal Crawford / Quentin Richardson / Zach Randolph / Eddy Curry

Bucks Injuries: Mike Ruffin is out 2-4 weeks with a fractured wrist. Desmond Mason and Mo Williams have played the last two games despite ankle injuries. David Noel will have his wrist examined later this week but he was headed to the D-League anyway.
Knicks Injuries: Jerome James is out indefinitely with a foot injury, and I'd be surprised if there's anyone associated with the Knicks in anyway who is sad about that.

06/07 Series: Knicks 3-1.

  • Curry (36), Crawford (25) and Nate Robinson (22) dominated the first game as the Knicks won 115-107 at the Garden on December 9. The Bucks got big nights from Mo (33/6/9) and CV (24 on 11/16 fg) as both teams shot over 50%.
  • On January 28, the Bucks got some revenge with a 107-105 win in Milwaukee. Mo Williams returned from injury to post 30/6/10 including a 20-footer with 3.1 seconds left. Bogut had 18/9 and Ruben Patterson scored 21 (8/10 fg) while Crawford led the Knicks with 26.
  • The Knicks squeezed out a 95-93 win on a controversial foul call. Bogut had 19/9 but was called for a very dubious loose ball foul on Channing Frye in the dying seconds. It was probably a foul by the letter of the law, but given the timing and what is normally allowed in late game scrambles it was pretty shocking to see the game decided that way. Mo again was big, posting 28/10/4 to counter 22 each from Marbury and Crawford.
  • The final game of the series was a strange 118-113 OT win for the Knicks in Milwaukee. Eddy Curry had a career night with 43 pts (on an absurd 17/20 fg) and 14 rebounds against the Bogut-less Bucks, while Nate Robinson also had a monster game, scoring 34. Mo Williams nearly had a triple double with 15/8/10, though Mardy Collins (starting for an injured Marbury) had 19/12/8 with five steals (and 7 TOs). Ruben Patterson gave the Bucks a 102-99 lead when he banked in a three with 0.9 seconds left in regulation, but the Bucks didn't guard Curry on the subsequent inbounds play, allowing him to bury his first three of the season to send the game into OT. LK caught some heat for the way the Bucks defended the final play, though given the, uh, adverse incentives the Bucks had to win games at that point, I'm not sure how much the end result bothered many Bucks fans.

Key Points:

  • This game is not being carried by FSN Wisconsin, so head over to MyP2P for a bunch of streaming links (they appear to be all Chinese streams at the moment). I'll be watching the MSG broadcast on LP, so I'll post my recap after the game.
  • The Celtics blew the doors off the Knicks last night 104-59 in Boston, the ugliest loss we've seen in a while in the NBA. Not surprisingly it sparked further calls for Isiah Thomas' head, though your guess is as good as mine as to what needs to happen for Jim Dolan to pull the plug on the league's biggest punchline. Would a blowout loss to the Bucks do the trick? That'd be nice, but the Bucks haven't exactly given much reason to think they're capable of a dominant performance. Only one of the Bucks' seven wins has been by 10 or more points (Toronto), while five of their six losses have come by 13 or more points. In other words, the Bucks have won (albeit barely) when they've been in games, but they've come out and flat and gotten lit up far too often. Not exactly an encouraging sign.
  • While many teams are less talented and some even have worse records, the Knicks continue to be the saddest story in the NBA.  Still, it's hard to feel bad for them given it's been pretty much all self-inflicted: bloated free agent contracts, your "star" underperforming and being crazy to boot, and a coach dragging the team through an ugly sexual harassment trial. As much as I'd personally enjoy seeing Isiah justifiably get fired for the mess he's created, in a greater sense the Eastern Conference has to be rooting for Isiah to keep his job. Gus Johnson, who broadcasts Knicks' games on the radio, mentioned on Bill Simmons' podcast last week that the team is full of guys who don't seem to like each other, and it shows on the court.  
  • The game will feature a pretty fascinating matchup in the frontcourt, as Eddy Curry (17.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Zach Randolph (17.3 ppg, 11.6 rpg) are each a ton down low. I'm not sure how long Yi can stay in the game against a heavy post guy like Randolph, but unfortunately the Bucks can't use Bogut to guard both Randolph and Curry. You'd love to see Yi take advantage of his superior quickness, but the Bucks don't run much, nor has Yi had the artistic license to go at guys very much. Villanueva might be a better match up because he's been more confident going off the dribble, though he'll also likely get eaten up on the other end. This is the sort of game where you'd love to have Mike Ruffin available as a designated post defender, so we'll have to see if LK tries to counter their size by playing Gadzuric with Bogut at times or if he sticks with his usual Yi/CV combination at PF.
  • Curry embarrassed Bogut a year ago in the first game at MSG, scoring 36 points (17/24 fg) while holding the Australian to two points on 1/5 fg in 15 minutes. That game in part convinced Bogut to fly mentor Sinisa Markovic to Milwaukee from Australia.  Bogut acquitted himself quite well in the two next games, averaging 18.5 ppg and 9 rpg, but Curry then unloaded with his career game (43/14) during Bogut and Skinner's absence in the final game between the two teams.
  • Mo Williams absolutely torched the Knicks last year: 26.5 ppg, 8.3 apg, and 7.5 rpg on .595 shooting from the field in four games. Given the recent form of both guys, don't be surprised if Mo lights up Marbury again.
  • Hopefully the Bucks don't see too much of David Lee, one of the league's most underrated players and a guy who has been seeing less court time this year with Randolph around.
  • Brett at the Bratwurst has a preview up as well.
  • For more on tonight's opponent, check out Posting and Toasting and KnickerBlogger.