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Bucks vs. Cavaliers Preview: Kyrie Irving/Brandon Jennings Matchup In Doubt

2011/2012 NBA Season




11-14 (4-10 away) 10-14 (5-5 home)
February 9, 2012
Quicken Loans Arena
6:30 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings PG Ramon Sessions
Shaun Livingston SG Daniel Gibson
Carlos Delfino SF Omri Casspi
Luc Mbah a Moute PF Antawn Jamison
Drew Gooden C Anderson Varejao

(17th) 102.6 - OFFENSE - 96.8 (28th)
(19th) 103.7 - DEFENSE - 103.7 (19th)
(11th) 92.4 - PACE - 89.6 (24th)

On the Cavaliers: Fear the Sword / Cavs the Blog / Waiting For Next Year

The Bucks pay their first visit to Cleveland hoping to extend their half game lead on the Cavaliers in the "race" for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.

UPDATE: Kyrie Irving will indeed miss at least two more games following his concussion earlier this week.

The start of something? Brandon Jennings has had an interesting week, hasn't he? Nine days ago he had the city of Milwaukee finally caring about NBA basketball again after his scintillating 31-point effort in a comeback win over the Heat; since then he's had his worst three-game stretch of the season, virtually mailed in a game against the Suns, seen his all-star hopes justifiably go up in smoke, and capped it off by having Chris Broussard inform the world on his behalf that he'll consider leaving Milwaukee for a big market when his rookie contract is up.

"It has nothing to do with the city of Milwaukee or anything like that because that's where I started my career,'' Jennings said. "They've been nothing but good to me. (Coach) Scott Skiles and (general manager) John Hammond have been good to me. It's just that I'm understanding the business of basketball now.''

Jennings has been careful not to say anything inflammatory, but the timing of it all is still rather, shall we say, curious. Jennings will be eligible for an extension this summer and would otherwise become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2013, so there's nothing really for either side to do in the short term. But there's also nothing accidental about Broussard's story; it's there because Jennings wanted it to be known. Perhaps that's Jennings' way of signaling his lack of happiness with the Bucks, or perhaps it's his way of putting pressure on the Bucks to lock him up this summer. Either way, it only adds another layer of intrigue (or annoyance) to a complicated situation that has seen the normally fiery Jennings look disinterested for long stretches on the court.

As a result, the message the Bucks should be sending back to Jennings is rather simple: just play the game.

Kyrie's concussion. First overall pick Kyrie Irving has been living up to all the hype thus far, leading all rookies in PER (note that Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer are #4/5) while playing in a scoring point guard role somewhat reminiscent of Brandon Jennings. Irving's raw numbers (18.0 ppg, 5.1 apg) are depressed somewhat by the fact that his minutes have only recently crept closer to 30 mpg, but his shooting splits (.492/.413/.830 and 57.7% true shooting) are terrific for any PG, much less a 19-year-old who entered the NBA with less than half a season of college hoops under his belt.

However, we may have to wait a bit longer for our first look at a Jennings/Irving matchup on the court. Irving suffered a concussion against Miami on Tuesday and subsequently missed Wednesday's game against the Clippers, with further evaluation yesterday offering little clarification of his immediate status. The Bucks know as well as any team that concussions are not to be taken lightly, so hopefully Irving's day-to-day listing doesn't turn into anything more.

Memo. Remember that old nickname for Ramon Sessions? The former Buck stepped up in Irving's absence to drop 24/13 in a 99-92 win over Chris Paul and the Clippers on Wednesday, and he'll be starting again if Irving is forced to sit out for the second straight game.