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Nets/Bucks: Milwaukee looks to avoid letdown against improving Nets

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2009/2010 NBA Season


11-66 (4-34 road) 43-34 (27-11 home)
April 7, 2010
Bradley Center
7:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Devin Harris PG Brandon Jennings
Courtney Lee SG John Salmons
Jarvis Hayes SF Carlos Delfino
Yi Jianlian PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Brook Lopez C Kurt Thomas

(30th) 100.5 - OFFENSE -  104.5 (23rd)
(24th) 110.6 - DEFENSE - 102.7 (2nd)
(23rd) 91.4  - PACE -  91.9 (19th)


Nets Daily / Nets are Scorching / Bucks Gameday

Life After Bogut
The Bucks might be missing their big guy, but judging by their playoff-clinching win last night in Chicago their grit and determination is very much alive and well.  Bogut had successful surgery on his broken hand on Monday and faces a six week period of recovery before he can begin rehab, but in the meantime his teammates (notably Kurt Thomas and Ersan Ilyasova) are doing their best to pick up the slack.

Still, the absence of Bogut could be even more pronounced against Brook Lopez, who was soundly outplayed by Bogut in each of the teams' first three meetings this year.  He's averaging just 10.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg against the Bucks this year, his worst numbers against any team aside from Denver. 

Celebrating the Playoffs
Yeah, we're all pretty pleased about officially being in the playoffs--in many ways just relieved after the horror of the Bogut injury last week.  And Tom Enlund writes that John Hammond was thrilled with the team's playoff-clinching win, too.

"If you talk about a building-block process, this is obviously the first step," said Hammond. "Our goal was to say we could put a competitive team on the floor. That's what we said from day one and I think we've done that this season and hopefully we can build on this."

Hammond agreed that "exhilarating" was a good way to describe his feelings at the moment.

"Completely," he said. ‘Especially with the emotions that I think everyone has gone through over the last few days. After losing Andrew (Bogut) and coming in here and doing this on the road in Chicago. I couldn't be any happier for (coach) Scott Skiles and the guys on this team. John Salmons coming back here and winning on the road. It feels awful good."

Shockingly, Skiles wasn't quite so effusive.  Afterall, he still has games to play and positioning to worry about.

"Our defense kept us in there and we were able to make some plays at the end. It's not that we want to take a deep breath and relax or anything right now. But from where people thought we were going to be at the beginning of the season and the way this group has come together, it's a nice accomplishment."

The Bucks currently rank 5th in the East by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker with the Heat, which as of today would match them up with the fourth seeded Celtics, who they also face twice in the last five games of the regular season.  Also keep in mind the Bucks are also only two games up on Charlotte (7th), though they also own the tiebreaker their based on better conference record.  The Celtics meanwhile are just a game back of the Hawks for the third spot.  The Heat have by far the easier schedule from here on out, so I'm not expecting the Bucks to hang on to the fifth spot. But holding off Charlotte is a much bigger deal--I'd much rather face Atlanta/Boston than Orlando. 

Break Up the Nets
Though they're coming off a road loss in Washington, the lowly Nets have won four of seven and really can't be taken lightly, especially by a Bucks team without its best player.  Think about it--if before the season all  I showed you was the starting lineup for both teams, which would you say was better?   With sexy young talent like Lopez and Harris, many would have taken the Nets over a Bogut-less Bucks squad.   And while I would have certainly taken the Bucks over the Nets if Bogut was healthy, I wouldn't have expected the Bucks to nearly quadruple the Nets win total (43 to 11).  Goes to show that having a great coach and a roster loaded with quality role players shouldn't be underrated. 

The Nets have had their share of low-scoring slugfests all year--they had a streak of four straight games holding opponents to 88 or fewer in November.  But many of those games were a) at a slow pace (the Nets rank 23rd in that category) and b) their offense has been so bad that even when they play defense it's often not enough.  In efficiency terms they're dead last in the league in offense and more than a full point behind next-worst Minnesota.  But they've also been somewhat unlucky: they have the same scoring differential as Minnesota (despite four fewer wins) and are just 1-7 in games decided by three points or less.

Rookie Impact
A key difference for the Nets of late has been the huge improvement of versatile rookie swingman Terrence Williams, who despite coming off the bench averaged 14 ppg and nearly 5 apg and 7 rpg in March.  Those are actually better numbers than what Brandon Jennings put up in March when he won yet another Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.  Tough to get noticed when you're playing for the worst team in basketball I guess.  Williams has also continued his strong play in April, putting up a 14/14 double-double in New Jersey's win over the Hornets last week and scoring 15 on 7/10 fg in their last game.