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Oh-fer 2014: Bucks vs. Healthy Grizzlies = Death?

The Milwaukee Bucks will take on the streaking Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night, winners of three straight. And they just got Marc Gasol back. Brace yourselves.

Behold, the only man capable of saving the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
Behold, the only man capable of saving the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
2013/14 NBA Season
(18-19, 8-7 away)
(7-30, 3-14 home)
January 15, 2014
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:00 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Mike Conley PG Brandon Knight
Courtney Lee SG Giannis Antetokounmpo
Tayshaun Prince SF Khris Middleton
Zach Randolph PF Ersan Ilyasova
Marc Gasol C Larry Sanders
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.5 (29th) Pace 91.3 (26th)
103.1 (16th) ORtg 98.4 (30th)
105.2 (T-23rd) DRtg 107.4 (21st)

Linkage | Grizzly Bear BluesBucks Game Notes | Grizzlies Game Notes

Grizzlies Update. For a fleeting December fortnight, the Memphis Grizzlies were dark horse competitors in the quest for the Holy Lottery Grails, but an 8-4 late December/early January run has Memphis flirting with a .500 record for the first time in over a month. The Grizzlies are 5-2 in 2014, and coming off an exhilarating 90-87 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, in which reigning Defensive Player Of The Year Marc Gasol saw his first live action in 23 games. The Milwaukee Bucks are averaging 84.8 ppg over their last six (all losses) and Gasol is expected to drop anchor again tonight. Since scoring points is still a necessity for victory, I’ll let you do the predictive math here.

The Power Up star point guard Mike Conley discovered as the calendar turned over (21.4 ppg, 47.8% fg, 43.8% 3fg, 89.7% ft, 7.4 apg, 2.7 rpg), and the emergence of Courtney Lee (14.8 ppg, 41.7% 3fg) spells nothing good for the Bucks’ tepid backcourt defense. Zach Randolph has been his usual self (19.9 ppg, 12.9 rpg), albeit through less efficient shooting than usual (44.4% fg). But that’s nothing a feast in Milwaukee hasn’t cured.

JohRry HensDers. With John Henson’s glorious return Monday night, we can resume cataloguing every play that validates/casts doubt over how he will co-exist with fellow Tube Man Larry Sanders. Currently the gangly duo has logged a robust 1.6 minutes together in 2013-14. Call me old fashioned, but that isn’t a large enough sample size for a ruling one way or the other. Don’t expect Larry Drew to start testing the Henson-Sanders frontcourt against the Grizzlies’ collection of F-350 Super Duties (help us, Miroslav Raduljica, you're our only lumbering hope). But as long as they stay off the injury report, we should start getting some evidence of how (and if) Henson and Sanders are both a part of the team’s long-term plans.

That existential core question should rightfully dominate Bucks headlines through April (and beyond), but it’s also worth paying attention to how Sanders meshes with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ersan Ilyasova. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have dreams about Sanders/Giannis pick and rolls, with Ersan quietly drifting to the arc in the process…

The Ersanator, re-activated. After spending most of his 2013-14 season experimenting with a career in contracting, Ersan broke out in a retro way against Toronto, dropping 29 points on a flurry of spot ups and stealth put-backs. One game makes not a season, but a return to form for Ilyasova is a win-win for everyone. Either his value as a trade chip increases or he solidifies his place as the NBA’s Aramis Ramirez and we can set the expectation that the high end of his stats are going to typically come in the season’s latter half.

Giannis. Does anyone remember the last time we regularly posted game-to-game video highlights for a Bucks player averaging 6.9 ppg (54.1% TS), 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, .8 bpg? The reason is less about his numbers and more about his instincts and socialist style of play, although he is posting a +/- of 8.3 in wins and -4.1 in losses. The Bucks won’t be able to match up with Memphis’ muscle, and the Grizzlies thrive on controlling the tempo (29th ranked pace), so it’ll be interesting to watch how Giannis and Co. use their athleticism and aggressiveness in transition and when broken plays call for spontaneous creativity.