|15-27 (7-14 road)
|22-25 (13-7 home)
|January 26, 2009 - 7:00PM CT
|Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FS Wisconsin
Jan 10: Wolves 106, Bucks 104
Bucks: Michael Redd is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. Andrew Bogut is a game-time decision with back spasms. Charlie Bell is day-to-day with lingering ankle soreness.
Wolves: Corey Brewer is out for the season with a torn ACL. Kevin Ollie is out with a dislocated elbow.
Bogut Back? When the Bucks and Wolves played two weeks ago it was also a Bogut return game, as the big man made 7/8 fg en route to 14/7 in 27 minutes. Ted Davis reports in his podcast (below) that Bogut will participate in the morning shootaround and make a decision from there. Even if Bogut does play tonight, expect the Bucks to closely monitor his minutes for the foreseeable future.
Still, the Bucks' other centers have been so bad that even 20-25 minutes of Bogut would be a huge boost. One thing to watch out for will be Francisco Elson's role; while he's been bad most of the year, he was excellent against Sacramento. Starting Elson was something a couple of us were hoping to see in the pregame commentary for the Kings game, so of course we feel pretty smart now. And while I'd give him the starting spot tonight, in the long term I'm still not expecting much from him.
Life without Mike. Scott Skiles reacted to Redd's absence early in the season by starting Charlie Bell in his place, giving the Bucks a hustling but offensively-challenged lineup that also featured Luc Mbah a Moute starting ahead of Charlie Villanueva.
But Bell has been out with ankle soreness so Skiles will likely have to go either small (Ramon Sessions) or big (Luc Mbah a Moute) with his off guard starter. Sessions had success playing that position earlier in the season and gives the Bucks two ball-handlers in the back-court, while Mbah a Moute hasn't really played the 2 but has been solid defending off guards for short periods. Besides, Mbah a Moute starting would probably mean Richard Jefferson was technically the off guard. The time Redd had been getting at the 3 should now go to Mbah a Moute and Joe Alexander. That's especially big for Alexander, who has had some nice moments the past few weeks but has still picked up a few DNP-CD's as he tries to adapt to being a perimeter player in the NBA.
Overall, the Bucks become less explosive but should improve defensively without Redd. Sure, the former still outweighs the latter, but if Bogut's healthy, Sessions plays like he did early in the season, and Villanueva keeps up his scoring act, the Bucks can still be competitive. A lot of "ifs," but not totally unreasonable.
Feeling Minnesota. As the Bucks saw earlier this month, these aren't the same Timberwolves. Minnesota is now 9-2 in the month of January and have won their last two--home wins over New Orleans on Friday and an OT squeaker last night against the Bulls. It all starts with Al Jefferson, who's having another ho-hum 20/10 season. Can someone remind me why everyone thinks Minny was so horribly ripped off in the Garnett deal? What better deal were they going to get? Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas? Jefferson might not play defense, but he's going to be a beast for a long time.
The difference is Big Al's no longer doing it alone. Randy Foye had only nine last night but is averaging 19.7 ppg on .462/.455/.872 shooting this month. And while O.J. Mayo's scoring average is sexier, Kevin Love has a higher PER. Love has been an absolute load on the boards, leading the league in offensive rebound rate and ranking fourth overall in total rebound rate. And after struggling to score earlier in the season he is flourishing this month with 12.1 ppg (55.6% fg) and 10.4 rpg in just 24 mpg. Craig Smith is starting ahead of him at PF, but that's probably temporary. Besides, Love has actually been slightly more effective at the center position thus far.
Contributions this month from Bassy Telfair (10.8 ppg, 6.4 apg) and Rodney Carney (10.5 ppg on .489/.429 shooting) have also helped offset Mike Miller's complete lack of production. Miller's scoring has cratered this season and this month his numbers are down even further to 5.7 ppg on .355/.161/.593 shooting. Strange.