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Bobcats/Bucks: Preview

Bobcats (10-14, 1-8 road, 10th East) @ Bucks (10-15, 8-3 home, 11th East)

Gametime: 7:30 pm CT (possible slight delay?)
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/Free NBA Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 19th (101.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (106.5), Rebounding 8th (.511 rr), Pace 22nd (92.7)
Bobs Stats: Offense 24th (98.8 pts/100 poss), Defense 21st (104.6), Rebounding 23rd (.487 rr), Pace 19th (93.2)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Charlie Bell / Michael Redd / Yi Jianlian / Andrew Bogut
Bobcats Lineup: Raymond Felton / Jason Richardson / Gerald Wallace / Emeka Okafor / Nazr Mohammed

Bucks Injuries: Desmond Mason is out 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Charlie Villanueva missed Wednesday's game and is questionable with his ankle injury. David Noel is out with a wrist injury.  
Bobcats Injuries: Adam Morrison (ACL) and Sean May (micro-fracture) are out for the year.

07/08 Series: Bobs 1-0. The Bobs won their home opener against the Bucks 102-99 on November 2 (my recap / Alex's recap). Bogut had 11 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks, but Raymond Felton poured in 26 points along with 12 assists as the Bobs overcame a 22/43 night from the line to outlast the Bucks. Gerald Wallace had 22/10 and Okafor 17/14 for the Bobs, as Mo Williams mistakenly went for a layup when the Bucks were actually down three in the waning seconds.

Key Points:

  • The Bobs won 105-95 against the Knicks last night at home. Gerald Wallace had 27 while the newly acquired Nazr Mohammed filled up the stat sheet in only 28 minutes: 20 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. The Bobs' flight to Milwaukee was delayed until this morning due to fog, and the team eventually landed in Chicago at 4:30. As of now the plan is still for a 7:30 tip, but that could be slightly delayed.
  • Mohammed has started the past two games at center, averaging 18.5 ppg, 11 rpg and 3.5 bpg while shooting .625 from the field. The Bobcats have won both and he gives them a much more physical front line than they had with Primoz Brezec. Mohammed is a much better rebounder than Prezec, so the Bobs should be a much better team on the boards from here on out.
  • The most obvious question for the Bucks is who will start in Desmond Mason's place. The Bucks and Sixers had been the only teams to use the same starting lineups all season, but Mason's thumb injury against Sacramento will rule him out of action for up to two months. The obvious answer would be former starter and backup SF Bobby Simmons, but Larry Krystkowiak started Charlie Bell as part of a three guard lineup to start the second half on Wednesday and that combination had some success a year ago under Terry Stotts.
  • LK has spoken very highly of Bell's defensive intensity of late, so I've got him listed in the starting lineup for the moment, but the Bucks are staying quiet for the time being. While Bell's ballhawking style is a nice contrast to the more lax defense the starting guards have shown of late, his shooting has been anything but: he currently ranks 296th out of 297 qualified players in raw fg% (.292). The worst in the NBA? Jamaal Magloire. Only Bell and Magloire have a fg% under 30%.
  • I can see the arguments for Bell, but I'd like to see what Simmons could do in the starting lineup. His lateral movement is poor at the moment but he would be strong enough in the post against a guy like Wallace and his shooting (if it actually came around) could space the floor a bit. More intriguingly, the Mo/Redd/Simmons/Yi/Bogut unit is also the only unit that has played more than 16 minutes and outscored opponents this season--a pretty shocking stat that shows you how poorly the Bucks have fared regardless of who's been on the court. So it's somewhat surprising to see that Simmons has only played with the other four starters a combined 42 minutes all season long, in spite of that group a combined 42 minutes all season long. It's a small sample size, but when nothing else works it's worth a shot, right?
  • The Bucks also tried out a big lineup in practice the past two days, with Jake Voskuhl at PF and Yi Jianlian at SF, which on paper might be the best defensive matchup against the Bobcats' starting froncourt. Still, I kind of doubt we see a lot of that lineup, if only because Yi hasn't played any SF this year and Voskuhl has been the primary backup big off the bench.
  • A three guard lineup would likely require doubling Wallace in the post, while Okafor should be able to outmuscle Yi down low. Michael Ruffin will be available tonight for the first time in over a month, so he could provide some needed muscle up front if Yi gets into foul trouble and CV is unavailable.
  • There's plenty of frustration in the Bucks' locker room these days, as the team has now dropped 11 of 14 overall and three of its last five home games after starting 6-0 at the BC. The Bobs come in at just 1-8 on the road, so the Bucks at least won't be dealing with road warriors, but then again Sacramento came into Wednesday's game 2-10 on the road.  Defensive breakdowns and 20 turnovers allowed Sacramento to pull out a 13-point win despite missing their starting backcourt of Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin.
  • Wallace can be a one-man wrecking crew on both ends, but so far this season he's focused more on scoring (19.2 ppg) and doing less of almost everything else. He is shooting more from outside (2.8 3fga/game vs. 1.7 last year) and not surprisingly shooting less effectively overall (46% vs. over 50% the last two seasons). Meanwhile, his rebounding has fallen off dramatically as well (4.9 rpg and a miserable 8.0 rebound rate vs. 7.2 rpg and 11.6 rr last year). He still gets more than two steals per game, but his shot-blocking is down as well. Just as you might do with a player like Josh Smith, you just have to step back a bit and hope Wallace settles for outside shots rather than driving and posting up.
  • Check out Queen City Hoops for more on the Bobs.