Heat (11-54, 5-26 road, 15th East) @ Bucks (23-43, 17-16 home, 13th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (102.2 pts/100 poss), Defense 30th (109.3), Rebounding 17th (.502 rr), Pace 19th (93.3)
Heat Stats: Offense 28th (99.1 pts/100 poss), Defense 26th (107.0), Rebounding 30th (.474 rr), Pace 15th (93.7)
Bucks Injuries: Andrew Bogut tested out his strained quad on Monday but isn't ready to return. Jake Voskuhl is day-to-day with gastroenteritis. Yi Jianlian has been practicing and is expected to be back despite his sore wrist.
Heat Injuries: Dwyane Wade has been shelved for the season because of knee troubles, while Dorell Wright and Alonzo Mourning are also out with knee injuries. Shawn Marion has missed two in a row with back trouble but could return tonight. Udonis Haslem has missed five straight with an ankle injury and Marcus Banks is also out.
- This game is not why most League Pass subscribers shell out $170 a year to watch every NBA game, but for the Bucks it's about as good a chance as any to snap their five game losing streak. Following their 99-77 loss to the league-leading Celtics on Saturday, the Bucks will see the other extreme in the league-worst Heat, who come in sporting an 11-54 record, an eight game losing streak, and most of their hypothetical starting lineup in street clothes.
- Some fun facts about the Heat's futility:
- Their 11-54 record puts them a comfortable four games behind the Sonics and T'wolves in the win column, all but assuring them the most lottery ping-pong balls.
- At 6-26, they're the only team without double-digit home wins.
- At 5-27, they're the only Eastern team with a worse road record than the Bucks.
- They've lost their first eight games this month, but that's nothing out of the ordinary: they lost their first nine in February and first 11 in January.
- Yi Jianlian is set to play for the first time since spraining his ankle on March 2nd against the Pacers, though the more serious concern of late has been the sore wrist that he reportedly first hurt in mid-January against Utah. Yi's return comes at a good time given Bogut's injury, and while Yi's not really a center, against the Heat that shouldn't matter too much. I'd love to see LK experiment more with an Yi/CV combination, either at C/PF or PF/SF, but something tells me we'll instead see a huge dose of Dan Gadzuric and Mike Ruffin. Given the Heat have no one of consequence inside, this could be one of those games where Gadzuric actually looks good.
- The only imaginable reason to watch the Heat these days is rookie shooting guard Daequan Cook, who has started the past four games and is averaging 11.4 ppg and 5.0 rpg in nearly 38 mpg this month. That's the good side. The bad side? Cook is shooting only 37% this month and has not shot better than 39% in any month since November (49%).
- Following his 4/15 shooting night against Boston, Charlie Villanueva's fg% for the month is now down to .421, his worst of any month this season (aside from the one-game October schedule). But as Alex noted on Saturday, he's actually been pretty consistent on a per-minute basis this year despite the huge fluctuations in his raw numbers. So while 17.4 ppg and 8.0 rpg seem like a big improvement on his first half performance, he has plenty of room to improve in terms of shot selection (possible) and defense (looking improbable).
- Tom Enlund writes that Larry Krystkowiak wanted his team to focus on keeping it simple offensively during Monday's practice.
During their current five-game losing streak – their longest of the season – the Bucks have shot a combined 43.9% and have gotten virtually nothing off the fast break, so coach Larry Krystkowiak has decided to limit the number of options they will run in the half court in an attempt to improve productivity.
"Just to kind of clarify in guys’ minds, here’s three or four sets that we’re going to run," he said. "Our transition offense has been somewhat non-existent so in that situation I’d almost encourage us to slow down two or three seconds. We don’t get many quick baskets anyway so it would be more important for us to get to the right spots and go into the action that we can run...whether it’s a pin-down or pick-and-roll."
- Enlund also has a good overview of the Bucks' fourth quarter struggles this year. The Bucks have held a fourth quarter lead in 17 of their 43 losses, and only the Heat have folded more times, with 19 such defeats.
"I bet a lot of those (fourth-quarter) leads are double-digit leads, too," third-year center Andrew Bogut said. "We don't play the same way in the third and the fourth. The ball is moving in the second and the third, and in the fourth . . . every team in the league, if you ask their scouts, they know what we're running in the fourth quarter.
"The thing that's bit us in the (butt) is that, my rookie year, we won every game that was within a point or two. Now it's come back to get us. Because we had some games we had no business winning (two seasons ago). It'll come back to get you."
In Bogut's rookie season, the Bucks became the first team in the shot-clock era to win its first 12 games that were decided by six points or fewer.
- The Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman has all you need to know about the Heat.