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Knicks/Bucks: Preview

Knicks (14-36, 4-19 road, 14th East) @ Bucks (19-31, 13-8 home, 12th East)

Gametime: 7:30 PM CT
TV:  FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/NBA LP Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @ NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (100.9 pts /100 poss), Defense 28th (107.9), Pace 23rd (92.6), Rebounding 19th (.501 rr)
Knicks Stats: Offense 24th (100.1), Defense 30th (108.2), Pace 19th (93.0), Rebounding 15th (.510 rr)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Charlie Villanueva / Andrew Bogut
Knicks Lineup: Jamal Crawford / Fred Jones / Jared Jeffies / Zach Randolph / Eddy Curry

Bucks Injuries: Michael Redd has missed the past six games with a left knee strain and is expected to return. Bobby Simmons is day-to-day with a bruised left leg. Yi Jianlian is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Awvee Storey has missed three straight games due to illness. Ramon Sessions has a broken left hand and is out six weeks.
Knicks Injuries: Nate Robinson missed last night's game against the Spurs with an upper respitory infection and Isiah Thomas said he is not sure if Robinson will travel with the team. Stephon Marbury has missed 15 straight games with a sore left ankle. Quentin Richardson has missed two games in a row with a sprained right ankle.

07/08 Series: Knicks 1-0. The Knicks came from 17 down to beat the Bucks 91-88 (Brew Hoop recap) on Nov. 30.  

Key Points:

  • It's already been about a month since the Zach Randolph-to-Milwaukee rumors were floating around. Randolph's inconsistent play has reaffirmed what most of us thought: he isn't the answer to the Bucks' woes. In January, he averaged 15.0 points on 45.7 % shooting along with 10.4 rebounds. Solid numbers, but since assuming a full-time role in February, Charlie Villanueva is averaging a similar 15.3 points on 48.6 % shooting and 9.7 rebounds. And while both players are criticized for being defensive sieves, Villanueva distinguishes himself by being a good teammate, and a trim one at that. Meanwhile, the Knicks are still considering moving Randolph (via HoopsHype).

    "The deal makes a lot of sense to me," one Knicks player said on Wednesday.

    Randolph said yesterday that this season - his first as a Knick - has been extremely difficult even compared to his lean years in Portland. Randolph missed the playoffs in his final four seasons with the Blazers.

    "Losing is losing," Randolph said after the Knicks practiced yesterday. "It's more (difficult) here with all the distractions, there's a lot of other stuff going on. It makes it that much more difficult to concentrate."

  • Speaking of Villanueva, he has stepped up in a big way filling in (assuming his role?) as starting power forward. Brett at The Bratwurst pointed out that after one start, Villanueva had two double-doubles, while Yi Jianlian had just one double-double in 48 starts. Villanueva didn't add another double-double in his second start, but his 16 points and seven rebounds were more than adequate. Villanueva's recent success can be accounted for not only by playing time, but his increased aggressiveness. He has shot 12-12 from the free throw line in the past three games. In his previous ten games, he shot 2-3 from the line. That is an astounding disparity. On a related note, Villanueva can cut down on the three point attempts anytime now. He's shooting 27.1 % from outside this season, and has missed his past 13 attempts, spanning eight games. Take it to the rack, Charlie.
  • The Knicks lost 99-93 in overtime to the Spurs last night. The Knicks carried a commanding 48-32 lead into halftime but the Spurs fought all the way back and Michael Finley hit an open three pointer to force overtime. The much-maligned starting frontcourt of Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph combined to shoot 6-21 from the field and turned the ball over seven times. The slightly less maligned backcourt, comprised of Jamal Crawford and Fred Jones on this particular night, combined for 43 points and converted on 9-17 three pointers. The loss was the Knicks' eighth in a row, the worst current streak in the NBA.
  • The Bucks went 2-4 in the past six games without Redd, who is expected back tonight against the Knicks. Dan Walsh at SportsBubbler.com has video interviews with Andrew Bogut, Junior Bridgeman, and Redd.

    "I'm healthy now, so I'm ready to get back," Redd said.

  • In addition to having the league's worst defense, the Knicks rank last in the NBA in blocks, averaging a miniscule 2.4. In other words, Marcus Camby, Josh Smith, Chris Kaman, Dwight Howard, and Samuel Dalembert average more blocks per game than the Knicks. Renaldo Balkman leads the Knicks, averaging 0.5, or slightly more than Jake Voskuhl (0.4) averages in 9.3 minutes.
  • The Bucks wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended today, but they are certainly still in the picture. JS Online's Tom Enlund notes that the Bucks are primed to make a playoff push, because they play 14 of their next 18 at home. Indeed, at 13-9, the Bucks have a better home record than the Magic, Raptors, and Wizards.

    The Bucks and Orlando have both played a league-high 29 road games. The Nets have played 24 and some teams, such as Charlotte, have played as few as 21 road games.

    But - and it's a big but - the Bucks must now take advantage of the home cooking that is being served up on the table in front of them. To do that, they must play much better than they have so far at the Bradley Center, where they are 13-8.

  • Progress Check: 2006-07 Bucks: 19-31. 2007-08 Bucks: 19-31. If they win game number 51, they will be ahead of last year's version.
  • Check out Posting and Toasting, Knickerblogger, and Stop Mike Lupica for more on the Knicks.