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Game Thread: Bucks/Pacers

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35-46 (24-16 home) 34-47 (12-28 road)
April 15, 2009 - 7:00 PM CT
Conseco Fieldhouse
Radio: 1250 WSSP TV: FS Wisconsin

Probable starters:

Jarrett Jack
PG Ramon Sessions
Brandon Rush
SG Charlie Bell
Danny Granger
SF Richard Jefferson
Troy Murphy
PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Roy Hibbert
C Dan Gadzuric
108.0 (18th)
Off (23rd) 106.7
109.2 (19th)
Def (14th) 107.8
96.5 (3rd)
Pace (11th) 92.5
25.4 (21st)
OReb (11th) 27.8
74.6 (9th) DReb (11th) 74.1

08/09 Series:

Dec. 13: @Bucks 121, Pacers 103

A sudden fit of cold shooting allowed a presumed blowout to turn into a back-and-forth nail-biter down the stretch, as T.J. Ford's 27 and Brandon Rush's 16 helped the Pacers take a 103-102 lead with 4:41 left. But then...well, you can do the math from there. The Bucks suddenly woke up and scored the final 19 points of the game, as Richard Jefferson scored eight of his 20 in the final five minutes.

Jan. 28: @Pacers 107, Bucks 99

The Pacers held a double digit lead for 19:56 of the first half after taking a 16-6 lead. But if we know anything from the zany first matchup, it's that you can't really know anything when these two meet. The Pacers reversed the script this time by taking the big early lead and allowing the Bucks back in the game before closing for the victory. The Bucks quietly charged back thanks to some excellent individual efforts by Mbah a Moute and Richard Jefferson and tough team defense during Indiana's daily third quarter collapse. Yet while the Bucks struck within two points, they never completed the comeback.

Feb. 11: Bucks 122, Pacers 110

While Richard Jefferson's 32 points will get the headlines and Ramon Sessions' stat-stuffing continued (15 points, 17 assists, seven boards), it was as much about the unknowns doing their thing as the big names in the 122-110 win. Charlie Bell, Eddie Gill, and Keith Bogans were among the quiet stars, helping the Bucks overcome a spread-'em-out attack led by the T.J. Ford/Jarrett Jack backcourt (35 points, 19 assists) and Troy Murphy's three point shooting (5/9 threes 23 points).


Pacers: Mike Dunleavy is out (knee surgery). Marquis Daniels (wrist) is questionable.

Bucks: Michael Redd (torn ACL and MCL) and Andrew Bogut (stress fracture in lower back) are out.

Three Points

  • Last goodbye? We've been alluding to it for months, but this could very well be Charlie Villanueva's last game in a Bucks uniform. With the Bucks' (very modest) two game winning streak coming with Villanueva as a sixth man, Scott Skiles will likely hand another start to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at the four. Charles Gardner spoke to CV after Monday's game, and as always his outlook was a realistic one.
    "I think I made decent improvement from last year," Villanueva said, "but am I satisfied? No, I'm not satisfied with the way I've been playing. It's been decent; it could always be better. I've just got to build from it. At the end of the day, I'm going to look for the best opportunity for me and my family.

    "I hope the Bucks will make an offer and take it from there."

    Perhaps fittingly, T.J. Ford will be sitting on the opposite bench at tipoff tonight. Both players have had their share of ups and downs since the summer 2006 trade that brought Villanueva to Milwaukee and sent Ford to Toronto--and it seemed like their fortunes were usually inversely related. While CV's tailed off a bit of late, he's had the best season of his career (16.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 53% TS, and 18.70 PER). In contrast, Ford has again been the focus of locker room squabbles, this time with Jarrett Jack--who took over his starting position midway through the year.
  • Ping-pong. Thankfully, the players don't care about lottery odds, but from a fan perspective it's a pretty important thing--afterall, the draft will be all we have to look forward to over the next couple months. The Bucks are currently tied for 10th in the lottery standings with the Nets at 34-47, with the Pacers and Bobcats tied for 12th at 35-46. New Jersey plays at MSG tonight while Charlotte plays in Orlando (sounds like Dwight will play).

    Though the Bulls only had a 1.7% chance of winning it last year, it's worth keeping in mind that none of the teams in the late lottery have much of a chance of jumping into the top three and whatever happens tonight won't change the odds much.

    Out of 1000 possible combinations, the 10th team gets just 11 combos while the 13th gets just six. If for instance the Bucks tied with the Nets for 10th, they would split the combos allotted to the 10th and 11th picks (11 and 8, respectively), with the winner of a coin toss getting the leftover combo. The "worst" the Bucks could do is tie with the Bobs and Pacers at 35 wins--in which case they would just pool the 11th to 13th combos (21 total) and divide them equally for seven apiece. According to Wikipedia, that would give them a 2.5% chance of jumping into one of the top three picks and a 0.7% chance of getting the first overall pick. If they lose tonight and New Jersey wins, they would get 11 combinations, which corresponds to a 1.1% chance of getting the first overall pick and a 4.0% chance of jumping into the top three. If you're confused don't worry, I'll be copy-pasting that again in the next couple weeks.
  • The Kids. The most interesting thing to watch in any non-playoff season? The young players, of course. Indiana will likely start rookies Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert, and they deserve it given their performances over the past month. Rush's overall numbers aren't pretty to look at, but he's averaging 17.7 ppg in his last nine contests including four 20+ point outings. He's shot below 50% in just one of those games (and 55.2% overall) but has oddly taken just seven free throws in that span. Hibbert meanwhile has averaged 12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 1.3 bpg in just 22 mpg this month.

    As for the Bucks, it's easy to forget Ramon Sessions just turned 23, but the RFA-to-be is averaging 14.8 pgg, 10.3 apg and 5.0 rpg this month. Joe Alexander's progress continues, though every promising stretch seems to be matched by an equally disappointing one. Against Orlando he tallied 11 points in the second quarter, only to miss his last six shots and go scoreless the rest of the way. He'll likely be trade bait this summer as the Bucks try to figure out ways to slash payroll, but if he sticks around he might be thrust into a bigger role next season--if Villanueva walks, the Bucks will be incredibly thin at the PF spot with little latitude to bring in a proven player.


Indy Cornows /