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Bucks vs. Heat Preview: Milwaukee Goes For Second Consecutive Road Win

2011/2012 NBA Season

5-9 (1-8 away) 10-4 (5-1 home)
January 22, 2012
AmericanAirlines Arena
5:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Mario Chalmers
Shaun Livingston
SG James Jones
Carlos Delfino SF LeBron James
Jon Leuer PF Chris Bosh
Andrew Bogut
C Joel Anthony

(23rd) 99.8 - OFFENSE - 108.0 (2nd)
(16th) 102.9 - DEFENSE - 99.6 (8th)
(10th) 92.6 - PACE - 95.2 (2nd)

On the Heat: Hot Hot Hoops / Peninsula is Mightier / ESPN Heat Index / South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Fresh off their first road win of the 2012 season, the Milwaukee Bucks leave behind a Big Three in turmoil to take on a Big Three missing one of its stars. The Heat have hardly missed a beat despite playing without Dwyane Wade, who has sat out three straight games with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable for today's game. Earning a second consecutive road win is sure to be a tough task, but the Bucks played well against New York and finally have a little momentum away from home.

Update: Dwyane Wade has officially been ruled out of today's game, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.

Addition by Subtrac--no, that's ridiculous. The Heat are 5-0 without Dwyane Wade and 5-4 with him. It writes itself. Are the Heat a better team with Wade watching from the bench? Is it possible that any team that has Dwyane Wade is actually better without Dwyane Wade? That's hard to believe, but it's impossible to ignore the narrative. So while a few things might look prettier with Wade sidelined (namely the production of LeBron and Chris Bosh), I doubt many Bucks fans are saying to themselves, "Man, I really hope Wade comes back and plays against us tonight!"

Stack Back. After sitting out the Bucks' road win in New York as he served a team-imposed suspension, Stephen Jackson is likely to return to the starting lineup tonight because...well, that's just how things work. This is really an immensely complicated situation. The Bucks are definitely a better with team with Jackson playing--so long as he's playing well. Whether that second qualification will be met more often than not is anyone's guess. In fairness, Milwaukee won last night thanks primarily to a strong defensive effort, combined with a miserable offensive performance from the Knicks--it was hardly an offensive explosion from the Bucks. For one game, though, Jackson's absence seemed totally inconsequential, as Shaun Livingston filled in with an excellent game as the starting shooting guard. Jax didn't sound thrilled about being held out, but hopefully seeing the team thrive without him will prove nothing more than motivation to return and show how good they can be with him.

A Roster Reunited. Stephen Jackson's banishment to the bench was thankfully accompanied by the return of Luc Mbah a Moute and Mike Dunleavy Jr., who returned from injuries to play 24 and 13 minutes against the Knicks, respectively. Assuming Mbah a Moute is up for extended playing time, he'll have his work cut out for him alternately defending LeBron and Bosh.

Run Run Reindeer. The Bucks seem to have made a real effort to pick up the tempo this season, as they currently rank 10th in pace after two Skiles-led seasons as a slower-than-average team. We've frequently extolled the benefits of a high-paced attack for the Bucks' roster as-constructed, but nobody gets more out of their running game than the Miami Heat. With two of the most lethal transition players in the NBA calling Miami home, stunning open-court plays are a regular occurrence. Miami also possesses a strong half-court defense thanks to the numerous and versatile individual defenders on the roster. Milwaukee would probably be best-served to establish a running attack of their own, but they can hardly afford to let the game devolve into a track meet.

The Battle For Przybilla. If Joel Przybilla does return to basketball this season, many NBA insiders have pegged the Heat and Bucks as his two most likely destinations. The lure of Miami is obvious, so it's time for the Bucks to show Joel that Wisconsin is the place to be! <looks outside at blowing snow> <sobs>