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Bucks vs. Bobcats Preview: Looking For A Rebound In Charlotte

2011/2012 NBA Season

21-25 (10-15 road)
7-37 (4-16 home)
March 23, 2012
Time Warner Cable Arena
6:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG D.J. Augustin
Monta Ellis
SG Gerald Henderson
Carlos Delfino SF Corey Maggette
Ersan Ilyasova
PF Tyrus Thomas
Drew Gooden
C Bismack Biyombo

(10th) 105.1 - OFFENSE - 95.5 (30th)
(21st) 105.8 - DEFENSE - 109.8 (29th)
(7th) 92.8 - PACE - 91.2 (18th)
With their six-game winning streak snapped, the Bucks hope facing another conference bottom-feeder in Charlotte can get them back on track. This is the second game of a back-to-back-to-back for Milwaukee. Last night's loss dropped the Bucks a game and a half behind the Knicks for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and four games behind Boston for the 7th seed. If the Bucks hope to make the playoffs at all, much less jockey for position, they'll need to mop up against the easy teams remaining in the schedule.

Still a work in progress. The first two games of the Monta Ellis era went, for the most part, swimmingly. Ellis didn't blow anybody away with his scoring, as he is oft to do, but his contributions were wide and numerous. After a moderately strong debut against his former team, Ellis played an excellent game against the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring efficiently and dishing out nine assists. Then last night against Boston, the Ellis we were afraid of showed up and missed 12 of his team-leading 18 shot attempts.

Ekpe Udoh, meanwhile, has performed admirably in limited minutes through three games, including his first-ever double-digit rebounding total against the Celtics. If he can stay productive on the boards, Udoh should have little trouble finding an expanded role under his new coach.

Mike likes March, we like Mike. You know who's been playing really, really well? Mike Dunleavy, doggone it. In the month of March, Dunleavy is scoring 15.6 points per game on 54.2% shooting, including over 47% from deep. He's been a visible leader off the bench, orchestrating the second-unit offense one possession, nailing a catch-and-shoot jumper the next. For such a low-key signing, Mike has been a huge addition to the roster. We should all be taking notice.

Making a Statement. During their six-game winning streak, the Bucks faced opponents with a combined winning percentage of 39.7. In light of that fact, plus the disappointing loss to Boston, it might be tempting to largely discount the streak's meaning. Before you do that, though, consider that the Bucks outscored those same six opponents by a total of 72 points. Much of that margin built up in blowouts of the Warriors and Blazers, but the point remains: beating bad teams by lots of points is the mark of a good team. It doesn't mean the Bucks are on the same level as the teams they are chasing for playoffs, but it's a good sign nonetheless. As for tonight, well, Charlotte is easily the worst team in the NBA, so it doesn't seem ludicrous to expect a blowout. That alone feels pretty good.