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Game 50: Pistons/Bucks

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This is what Kareem & company looked like 40 years ago against the Pistons

2009/2010 NBA Season


17-32 (5-18 away)
23-26 (16-7 home)
February 9, 2010
Bradley Center
7:00 PM
Radio: WTMJ AM 620 TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Rodney Stuckey
PG Brandon Jennings
Richard Hamilton
SG Charlie Bell
Tayshaun Prince
SF Carlos Delfino
Jonas Jerebko
PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Ben Wallace
C Andrew Bogut

(25th) 103.3 - OFFENSE - 104.1 (23rd)
(22nd) 109.2 - DEFENSE - 104.0 (8th)
(29th) 88.3 - PACE - 93.2 (11th)


Detroit Bad Boys / Bucksketball

News/notes after the jump...

JS: Mbah a Moute finding his way
Nothing Luc Mbah a Moute does is particularly flashy, but his improved play (particularly on offense) was impossible to ignore in the Bucks' back-to-back victories over the Knicks (6/7 fg, 16 pts, 6 rebs) and Pacers (18 pts, 7/9 fg, 11 rebs).  Charles Gardner spoke to Skiles about it after the game:

"He hustles so much, the game just comes to him," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of the 6-foot-8 Mbah a Moute, now playing a starting power forward role. "He was on the offensive glass and found some things around the basket, and he knocked down a couple jumpers."

Mbah a Moute was one of many x-factors on the Bucks' roster coming into the season and his performance has been a mixed bag through 49 games.  The versatile defense is of course still there, and that will always be his calling card and what guarantees he's at least a 20-25 mpg guy.  But despite an off-season spent focused on developing his jumper, his fg% on 16-23 foot shots has fallen from 36% to 28%, though on the rare occasions he's shot from deep (just 16 times all year) he's made a healthy 37.5%.   

Of course, lost in the disappointment over Mbah a Moute's jump shot is his continued efficiency around the cup, which has as much to do with skill as it does knowing his own limitations.  At the rim he makes 61.5% of his shots (up marginally from a year ago) and inside 10 feet he's upped his accuracy to 42% from 28% a year ago (though he takes less than a shot per game in that classification).  On the other hand, his rebound rate has cratered noticeably, from 13.6% to 10.2%, but that's due in part to getting much more burn at SF rather than PF.  I'm not sure Luc ever becomes an entrenched starter at either forward spot--his best role may end up being as a Posey-like defender off the bench--but he's also the kind of guy you never feel bad about starting.

Pistons Update
Since returning from a groin injury five games ago, Ben Gordon has scored more than 10 points just once and continues to come off the bench behind the declining Rip Hamilton (17.9 ppg but career-low .397 fg% and .242 3fg%).  Meanwhile, fellow free agent signing (and reserve) Charlie Villanueva has been struggling with back spasms of late, limiting him to just 25 minutes over the past four games.

More promising has been the play of rookie second rounder Jonas Jerebko, who continues to start at PF and is coming off a 9/9 fg, 20 point outing in the Detroit's 99-92 win over the Nets on Saturday.  Bogut-stopper Ben Wallace continues his solid play as well, averaging 9.0 rpg.  Still, the Pistons' season has been a huge disappointment thus far, as a floundering finish to Michael Curry's first and last season in 08/09 has carried over to John Kuester's first season in charge this term.  Makes you appreciate Scott Skiles even more.

So the Bucks should have a golden opportunity on Tuesday to run their home winning streak to 10 games and continue their push for the 8th playoff spot.  They're currently just 0.2% behind the Heat (24-27) for the final spot and only a game behind the Bulls and Bobcats (both 24-25) for the 6th/7th spot.  While the Bucks head to New Jersey tomorrow for one final game before the all-star break, the Heat host the Rockets on Tuesday and head to Atlanta on Wednesday, the Bulls are in Indiana Tuesday night and host Orlando on Wednesday, and Charlotte hosts Washington on Tuesday and heads to Minnesota on Wednesday.

SB Nation: Breaking down the deadline
Mike Prada takes a look at all 30 teams' prospects for doing deals at the deadline. Not surprisingly he doesn't see the Bucks being too active, though he does mention Caron Butler as the biggest name they might target. I agree that a big deal isn't likely, and I think Butler probably makes the most sense of any bigger names currently available. Part of that is fit (a scoring wing with Wisconsin roots makes plenty of sense) and part of it is contractual (Butler's deal expires in the summer of 2011). But for that reason dumping Butler doesn't do Washington a whole lot of good unless the also get rid of Antawn Jamison as well--only then would the Wiz have meaningful cap space this summer.

Stadium Journey: The Bradley Center
Paul Swaney knows a thing or two about stadiums--his blog is all about visiting as many of them as possible--and he recently paid a trip to the BC.