Bucks found themselves in a self-described must-win affair against Detroit, and responded with another blistering offensive performance. But they can't afford to let up. According to coach Scott Skiles, the rest of the season is must-win. That continues tonight, as the Bucks welcome the 3rd-place Indiana Pacers to the Bradley Center.
Big Buck Hunters. Surprisingly enough, this is only the second game of Milwaukee's 3-game series against Indiana. The first didn't exactly go well, a 21-point home defeat that snowballed into a brutally sloppy loss to the Knicks two days later. The Bucks' backcourt couldn't shoot straight, and nobody could keep the Pacers from putting up a whopping 125 points. Historically, first-year Pacer David West has given the Bucks heaps of trouble (18.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes on 51.4% shooting in 17 career games), but the brunt of the damage came from George Hill and Danny Granger. Like the Bucks, the Pacers don't really rely on a superstar to carry their team. Unlike the Bucks, they have a starting lineup full of players who easily qualify for a similar title, just maybe not the "super" part.
Can Monta Ellis Work? The immediate returns on the Monta Ellis acquisition were exciting, but not necessarily encouraging. After coming to Milwaukee, Monta topped 14 points only twice in the month of March despite averaging just as many shot attempts. But April has been much kinder, with Ellis upping his scoring average to 21.6 per game on almost 49% shooting. He's also dished out 7+ assists in five of seven games this month. What's more, Monta's performance seems to be helping Brandon Jennings, who's taking fewer shots but making far more of them: almost 51% shooting and 7+ assists in four of his last seven games. The usual qualifications are in play: poor competition and what-not. But if nothing else, there are clear positives to this unique backcourt pairing.
Philly Falling. New York is old news. All the cool kids are keeping an eye on the Philadelphia 76ers these days. And man, there's some surprising stuff taking place. Last night the Sixers dropped a close contest to the New Jersey Nets, just the type of surprising loss that team can hardly afford. The Bucks need all the help they can get, so they'd better be rooting for a few more of these upsets.