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Game Thread 15: Magic/Bucks

2009/2010 NBA Season


12-4 (6-2 road)
8-6 (6-1 home)
November 28th, 2009
Bradley Center
8:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Jason Williams
PG Brandon Jennings
Vince Carter
SG Michael Redd
Mickael Pietrus
SF Carlos Delfino
Rashard Lewis
PF Ersan Ilyasova
Dwight Howard
C Dan Gadzuric
(11th) 108.1 - OFFENSE - 103.8 (23rd)
(6th) 101.5 - DEFENSE - 101.9 (8th)

(22nd) 91.5 - PACE - 94.0 (11th)


Third Quarter Collapse / Bucks Gameday

News/notes after the jump...

Stopping Dwight. It's not going to happen, but the Bucks might as well try, right? Skiles seems content to keep Gadzuric as his starter, but Thomas has been clearly better since Bogut got hurt and he probably can't play much more than 30 minutes anyway. Given Gadzuric will probably have two fouls in the first four minutes (not necessarily a bad strategy), we could see Elson getting some meaningful minutes tonight as well. Yay.Howard's numbers are slightly down but mostly because he's not having to play as much (32 mpg). He's still unstoppable around the cup (68% efg inside), can't make free throws (career-low 56.7%), and is the best rebounder on earth (21.8% rebound rate, nearly 12 rpg). The best strategy is probably doubling or fouling him and then praying that he'll turn the ball over (he still does that a ton), miss free throws, or that his teammates will miss open shots (given their personnel, not likely).

On a related note, can we stop saying stuff like "He's not even beginning to scratch the surface!" about Howard? His stats have been mostly flat for three years, which is perfectly fine given how dominant he is. Marginal improvements on defense or finding teammates might be all you can expect of a guy who got that good that young. He's shown zero development as a shooter, and I'm not sure we should expect that to change at this stage of his career (similar story for Bogut). Still, everyone seems to be obsessed with saying young players are going to improve dramatically, even though it's probably not going to happen. OK, end of mini-rant.

Getting Jennings going. If there was an easy solution to getting Brandon Jennings going then I'm sure Scott Skiles would have thought of it. But the reality is that teams are taking him out of games by aggressively doubling off pick and roll, which had been the bread and butter of the Bucks' hot start. And with Bogut out and Redd not performing, the Bucks have essentially become a jump-shooting team without a post presence or the ability to draw fouls. Shut Jennings down and you're a long way towards stopping the Bucks.

For one, I'd like to see Jennings not get pulled four or five minutes into a game. Yes, Skiles did it against the Warriors and Ridnour has been playing well, but there's something so, I don't know, submissive about it. We all know teams will be aggressive with Jennings, but waving the white flag and taking out your most dynamic player seems like the wrong answer so early in the game. But that's just me. Jennings still usually gets his minutes, but half the time he's splitting PG duties with Ridnour, which isn't really ideal either.

When the Bucks do run high P&R, it'd be nice if they could get it going more towards the middle of the court rather than walling Jennings off against the sideline (especially on the right side of the court, where he's on his strong hand going to the middle). This is all a process for Brandon, so it's fine if he learns on the job and makes some mistakes. The Bucks have run him off screens occasionally when Ridnour is handling the ball, which is a nice changeup, but when they do that let's just have him go after it as a scorer. I appreciate that he's playing within himself, but his teammates aren't good enough right now. And it seems like it's been a while since we saw that floater in the lane, too. The opportunities to finish at the cup are going to be minimal with Howard around, so that might be the only way to score in the lane.