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Bucks vs. Clippers Preview: Milwaukee Looks To Rebound Against New-Look Clippers

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2011/2012 NBA Season

2-4 (0-4 road) 3-2 (2-1 home)
January 7, 2012
Staples Center
9:30 PM CT
Radio: 1250 WSSP TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Chris Paul
Carlos Delfino SG Chauncey Billups
Stephen Jackson SF Caron Butler
Ersan Ilyasova
PF Blake Griffin
Drew Gooden C DeAndre Jordan

(27th) 97.8 - OFFENSE - 110.6 (1st)
(5th) 97.3 - DEFENSE - 107.5 (26th)
(6th) 94.4 - PACE - 91.5 (18th)

On the Clippers: Clips Nation / ClipperBlog / Los Angeles Times

The Milwaukee Bucks continue to search for their first road win after blowing a 21-point halftime lead in Sacramento. In their only trip to the Staples Center this year, the Bucks face the new-and-improved Los Angeles Clippers.

Milwaukee will be without Andrew Bogut for the third straight game. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Bogut is dealing with a family issue in Melbourne, Australia. He may return in time for the Bucks' home game against San Antonio on Tuesday. Mike Dunleavy and Luc Mbah a Moute are both dealing with lingering injuries and are likely to miss the game as well.

So that's fun.

Update: Jim Paschke has said on Twitter that Beno Udrih is unlikely to play tonight, but Tobias Harris might make his long-anticipated Bucks debut. Thanks to Brick's house for pointing this out in the comments. Hopefully they've got plenty of water in Staples.

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Battle For Los Angeles. For years, the Clippers have been the "other" team in LA, overshadowed by the Lakers' star power and success. Oh, how the tables have turned. When the Lakers proposed three-team trade to acquire superstar PG Chris Paul was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern, the Clippers seized the chance to swoop in and grab him. It cost the Clips many of their most valuable assets, including rising star Eric Gordon and the unprotected first-round pick from Minnesota, but it has propelled them to the upper echelon of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Lakers are battling chemistry concerns and Kobe Bryant's injured wrist. It's too early to declare the balance of power shifted, but the Clippers definitely can't be considered the dysfunctional cousin anymore.

What is HAPPENING at Halftime? The Bucks rank 3rd in the NBA in 1st-half points per game at 52.8, behind only Miami and Oklahoma City. They're also holding their opponents to 43 points per game in the first half. After the break? Milwaukee is dead last with only 39.5 2nd-half points per game and gives up 48.8. Over an 82 game season, 1st-half Milwaukee would project as a 78-win team by Pythagorean Win Expectancy. 2nd-half Milwaukee would project as a four-win team.

Rebounding Without Bogut. The Bucks lost at Sacramento not just because their crunch-time offense was a clearout for Stephen Jackson, but because they got absolutely hammered on the boards. The Kings recorded an offensive rebound rate of 48.9, which means almost half of their missed shots ended up back in their hands. Andrew Bogut is the best defensive rebounder on the roster, so his absence at least partially explains the issue, but against the Kings nearly every player in the Bucks' frontcourt underperformed on the boards versus his career numbers. Surprisingly enough, the Clippers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA, so hopefully Milwaukee won't feel so much pressure. Still, just one missed box-out is all Blake Griffin needs for an emphatic offensive slam-back.

Brandon's Swinging Swagger. After the Bucks obliterated the Washington Wizards at home on December 30th (ahh, good old 2011...), Jeremy Schmidt at Bucksketball excitedly wondered if Brandon Jennings had gotten his swag back. Then he missed 26 of his next 35 shots as the Bucks fell to Denver and Utah. Suddenly it looked like Jennings' promising start to the season was nothing more than another blip on the radar of his career--a flash of style and substance that served only to raise our hopes again. So then we were all depressed and miserable, and he says, "Hey guys, I remembered how to shoot threes!" and scores 31 points. Such is the life of a hypertensive Bucks fan. Would it surprise anybody if Jennings went for 38 tonight? What about 9?