Bucks (8-8, 2-6 road, 6th East) @ Warriors (9-8, 3-5 home, 8th West)
Bucks Stats: Offense 16th (102.6 pts/100 poss), Defense 26th (106.2 pts/100 poss), Rebounding 7th (51.3 rr)
Warriors Stats: Offense 9th (105.9 pts/100 poss), Defense 24th (105.7 pts/100 poss), Rebounding 30th (47.0 rr)
Bucks Injuries: Mo Williams is listed as day-to-day with a sprained right thumb but is expected to play. Michael Ruffin is out 1-3 weeks with a fractured wrist. David Noel is out with a tear in his wrist that may require surgery.
Warriors Injuries: Mickael Pietrus is day-to-day with a broken nose.
- The Bucks aren't the only streaky team. After opening with a sour 0-6 start to the year, the Warriors are now one of the hottest team in the NBA, having won nine of its last eleven games. It's no coincidence that the hot streak followed Jackson's return from suspension.
- The Warriors are coming off a 123-117 overtime loss to the Magic. Not a bad result, considering they shot .378 from the field and made just 9-40 three pointers. Yes, that is correct, 40 attempts from downtown in one game. Not sure how much the Bucks should experiment with the zone, as I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving the likes of Jackson, Harrington, and Azubuike open from outside too long.
- One key matchup to watch is at point guard where Williams has the unenviable task of trying to contain the multifaceted Davis. Davis, whom you probably recall torching the Mavericks in the playoffs last year, is averaging career highs in points (23.3) and rebounds (5.3). The burly Davis also has gotten to the free throw line 121 times already, compared to just 29 for Williams. Needless to say, he'll be a handful. The more physical, defensive-minded Ivey, who didn't play last night against the Clippers, could be called on to momentarily spell Williams and take a shot at slowing Davis.
- Bell should be excited to play the Warriors because he averaged 24.0 points on .543 shooting against them last year. Bell thrives in a fast-paced game, and the Bucks averaged 118.5 points against the Warriors last year. Bell's shooting is all the way down to .278 this year so hopefully he can get some easy baskets in transition and find his jumper after that.
- Villanueva may also find the pace of the game to his liking. He was instrumental in the Bucks' five-game winning streak earlier this year, averaging 15.2 points along with 6.0 rebounds on .533 shooting in the first four games of the run. But he was very quiet in last night's win. His offensive versatility and ability to run the court could come in handy against the Warriors.
- Despite the Warriors' propensity to get into shootouts, the Bucks can't just go into Oracle Arena and think they are suddenly going to start pouring in points. After scoring more than 100 points four straight times, the Bucks haven't surpassed 100 points in any of their last six games. The Bucks can't afford to wait a quarter or two to get into an offensive flow if they hope to keep pace. Everyone on the Warriors can and will fly down the court, so the Bucks will need to react quickly because how they fare in transition defense will play a big role in determining their success. One thing is for sure, they won't hold the Warriors to 29 points in the second half, like they did against the Clippers.
- With the Warriors dead last in the league in rebounding rate, the Bucks should be able to control the boards. But Biedrins represents a different challenge for Bogut down low tonight. A day after outplaying a very game Kaman, Bogut must maintain similar intensity against the big and nimble Latvian.
- Some are floating Azubuike as a Most Improved Player candidate, a year after fellow teammate and shooting guard Ellis won the award. His big numbers shouldn't come as a surprise though, because he had strong per-minute and shooting percentage numbers last year in limited action. In fact, minutes are the only thing that have really gone up, as his field goal, free throw, and three point percentages have all dipped this year.
- Be sure to check out what Frank had to say in a Q&A with the always entertaining and informative gold standard of Warriors' blogs, Golden State of Mind.