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Thunder/Bucks: Durant in doubt as Bucks look to bounce back

2010/2011 NBA Season


5-7 (3-3 home) 8-4 (4-1 road)
November 20, 2010
Bradley Center
7:30 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
Russell Westbrook
John Salmons
SG James Harden
Luc Mbah a Moute SF Thabo Sefolosha
Drew Gooden
PF Serge Ibaka
Andrew Bogut
C Nenad Krstic

(30th) 100.2 - OFFENSE -  109.7 (6th)
(2nd) 99.7 - DEFENSE - 110.4 (26th)
(23rd) 91.3  - PACE -  93.0 (15th)
On the Thunder: 

Welcome to Loud City / Daily Thunder

Durant and Green uncertain. As of Saturday afternoon there's no word yet on whether the tender ankles of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green will keep them out of action again, so it's not clear what kind of Thunder squad the Bucks will be facing 24 hours after their lackadaisical 90-79 loss in Philly. In contrast, the Thunder shrugged aside the absence of their starting forwards to grind out an impressive 89-84 win in Boston, as Russell Westbrook unloaded on Rajon Rondo for 31 points and six boards. The optimist in me would say that makes OKC ripe for a letdown in Milwaukee, but that same optimist would have also said the Bucks would take care of the lowly Sixers last night. 

Big nights from Westbrook have become the norm this season, as the former UCLA stud is filling up the box score every which way: 23.9 ppg, 7.9 apg, 5.4 rpg, and 2.1 spg in nearly 38 mpg. That translates to a PER of 26.04, well ahead of Durant's very good-but-not-elite 21.18. Overall, OKC has now won three straight and five of six, though they curiously still have a negative scoring differential for the season despite winning two-thirds of their games. The opposite is true for the Bucks, as they have a positive scoring differential despite losing seven of 12 so far. 

Misfiring. The Bucks' inability to make a three in Philly last night was the first time in over five years that they've failed to hit at least one triple, which more or less sums up how awful they've been on offense this season. The Bucks are now dead last in the NBA in eFG% and scoring efficiency, though they've also been incredibly inconsistent--three times in the past five games they've been excellent offensively (>51% eFG, >110 pts/100) and the other two they've been utterly abysmal. You never know which Bucks team you're going to get, though if there's an x-factor it might be John Salmons.

Salmons has averaged 17.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.6 apg on .483/.500/.905 shooting in the Bucks' five wins, but just 8.7 ppg on .288/.250/.778 in seven losses. It's a bit curious for a fairly balanced offense to be so reliant on one guy, but it makes a bit more sense when you consider how much of the Bucks' offense involves putting the ball in Salmons' hands. For better or (mostly) worse, the Bucks don't seem to adjust their offensive play-calling much when Salmons is off his game, and missing Chris Douglas-Roberts and Carlos Delfino doesn't leave Scott Skiles with many alternatives off the bench when Salmons is misfiring.