Liberty Ballers / Philadunkia / Sixers4Guidos
The Bucks look to snap a three-game losing streak when they return home to face the Atlantic Division-leading 76ers at the Bradley Center.
Sixers update. The Sixers improved to 10-3 with their 94-82 win over the Bucks on Martin Luther King Day, but they are 12-13 in the six weeks since and have dropped seven of their last nine games, including a 96-91 home loss to the Bulls last night. Derrick Rose's 35 points led the Bull while the Sixers dropped to 6-12 against teams with .500 or better records, though they continue to lead the Celtics by two games in the Atlantic.
The Bucks haven't fared much better of course, dropping three straight and nine of their last eleven. That leaves them four games behind the Knicks (18-19) for the eighth and final Eastern playoff spot.
Tenacious D. Philly continues to boast the league's best defense, ranking second in eFG% allowed (45.0%), first in FG% allowed (41.5%), seventh in opponent free throw rate, and fifth in defensive rebound rate (74.8%).
Brandon bounces back. With his annual February struggles out of the way, Brandon Jennings has started March with a bang. Following up his 34 points and nine assists against the Hawks, Jennings led the Bucks with 27 points and five assists in Orlando. He also made 9/17 from the field, the first time he's made better than 50% of his shots in a game since January 30.
He struggled in the teams' first meeting, scoring just seven points (3/11 fg) along with two assists, while Jrue Holiday had one of his best games of the season with a season-high 24 points, five assists and five steals.
Pace vs. fast break. We typically use pace as the best proxy for the speed at which a team plays, but playing fast and playing well are two different things. Consider that the Sixers rank just 25th in pace but eighth in fast break points per game (15.3), while the Bucks are eighth in pace but 15th in fast break points (12.4).
1s and 2s. The Bucks are seventh in first half scoring (49.8 pts/game) and 24th in second half scoring (45.2). Meanwhile, opponents average 49.9 and 47.8 points in the first and second halves, respectively. I don't have pace-adjusted numbers handy, but the differentials alone support the general thesis that the Bucks have too often allowed poor third and/or fourth quarters to spoil otherwise solid efforts.