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Bucks vs. Kings preview: Don't call it a trap game

The recently streaking Sacramento Kings have given the Milwaukee Bucks trouble in the past, and with a very thin bench at coach Scott Skiles' disposal, it's likely this will be the eighth straight Bucks-Kings game decided by single digits.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2012/2013 NBA Season
(7-13 1-7 road)
(10-9, 5-4 home)
December 12, 2012
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Aaron Brooks PG Brandon Jennings
Francisco Garcia SG Monta Ellis
John Salmons SF Marquis Daniels
Jason Thompson PF Ekpe Udoh (?)
Chuck Hayes
C Larry Sanders
2012/13 Advanced Stats
92.0 (16th) Pace 93.7 (5th)
101.6 (26th) ORtg 102.8 (21st)
107.0 (20th) DRtg 103.8 (11th)

On the Kings: Sactown Royalty | Cowbell Kingdom | A Royal Pain

A plethora of DNP-*insert injury*. Beno Udrih's right ankle is a no-go. Mike Dunleavy (left knee bruise) and Ekpe Udoh (sore right wrist) are questionable. Ersan Ilyasova (lower right leg contusion) is probable. Add it all up, and you get treated to an anemia-riddled Bucks offense with no ability to stretch the floor against a team that ranks second in opponent field goal percentage (33.9%) in the non-restricted painted area. Milwaukee's ability to get out on the break will be crucial, as the Kings have allowed the 9th most fastbreak points in the NBA, and rank second in opponent field goal percentage within the restricted area (62.8% fg).

Watch the throne. I loath the term "trap game," so I'll just say the Kings have played well lately. Sacramento had won three straight until Monday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and they're getting unexpected contributions while Tyreke Evans nurses a left knee injury. Over their last five games, Francisco Garcia had a hot hand from deep (11.2 ppg, 52% 3fg), DeMarcus Cousins got his groove back (18.8 ppg, 47% fg, 10.2 rpg), and John Salmons, who continues to have the best headshot of any NBA player ever, is getting his requisite five games of noticeable production in before the holidays (9.4 ppg, 42.9% 3fg, 6 apg). It's possible, even if Evans can go, that Keith Smart opts for the lineup that has produced the most success in the past two weeks.

Baby got backcourt. Jennings and Ellis pulled together their best combined effort of the season in Sunday's win over the Brooklyn Nets, leading to this poignantly obvious quote from Scott Skiles:

"It's the nature of our team; when Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are playing well, we usually win."

Socrates would be proud. The obviousness of Milwaukee's path to victory notwithstanding, the Bucks will take on a Sacramento team that also relies heavily on guard play to create scoring opportunities (44.9 ppg - 10th in the NBA). Marcus Thornton has been the biggest Buck hunter lately, dropping 27 points in his last two games against Milwaukee.

Update: DeMarcus Cousins will serve a one-game suspension tonight for hitting Dallas SG O.J. Mayo in the groin during Sacramento's 119-96 loss on Monday. Chuck Hayes will likely start in his absence, or the Kings could move Jason Thompson to center and start rookie Thomas Robinson at the 4. The Kings will also be without SG Marcus Thornton, who will presumably miss the game to be with his ill mother. We wish Thornton and his family the best.