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Magic vs. Bucks Preview | Bucks look to reboot following desperately needed all-star break

The Bucks return from a much-needed five days off to begin the final 30 games of a season that can't end soon enough.

13/14 NBA Season
(9-43, 5-21 home)
(16-38, 3-23 road)
February 18, 2014
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Jameer Nelson
Nate Wolters SG Arron Afflalo
Khris Middleton SF Tobias Harris
Ersan Ilyasova PF Glen Davis
Zaza Pachulia C Nikola Vucevic
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.8 (25th) Pace 93.8 (16th)
99.2 (29th) ORtg 100.9 (27th)
109.4 (30th) DRtg 106.6 (17th)

On the MagicOrlando Pinstriped PostMagic Basketball

Playing favorites? Statistically speaking you could argue this is the only matchup the Bucks might be favored to win in all of basketball: only the Magic have a worse road record (3-23) than the Bucks' home record (5-21), though you'd have a hard time making that claim to anyone who saw the Magic walk all over the Bucks in Orlando on January 31.

New Year's Disintegration. Over the course of the season's first 31 games--through their New Year's Even win L.A.--the Bucks scored 96.0 pts/100 possessions (30th) while conceding 104.2 pts/100 (20th). Basically their offense was utterly abysmal, while their defense was only slightly below average. But since the New Year things have gotten slightly better on the offensive end (97.2, 29th) while going completely in the toilet defensively (110.2 pts/100, 30th).  Perhaps most notably, opponents over the last 21 games have shot a sizzling 41.2% from deep (vs. 36.0% in the first 31 games). There's no real rhyme or reason for it from an injury standpoint, as further reiterated by the fact that the Bucks' record with Larry Sanders (3-20) was actually worse than their record without him (6-23). All it tells you is that the Bucks' problems have gone way beyond injuries, and that the toll of losing so much over the first two months veered into a death spiral of futility in January. Thankfully they've started to actually be competitive again over the past couple weeks, but...well, 9-43 you know?

Injury report. One side effect of not playing basketball for five days: all of a sudden guys start to get healthy. Not Larry Sanders of course, but thankfully John Henson (foot) may return Tuesday night and he's not alone.

Luke Ridnour missed practice because of snow-related flight cancellations, while O.J. Mayo (conditioning/recovery from ebola virus or whatever) practiced but is still listed as questionable.

Larry. Speaking of Bucks' injuries, Noam Schiller deconstructs the disappointment of Larry Sanders' injury-riddled (and decidedly non-capitalized) season.

Magic update. Since we last saw them throttling the Bucks two weeks ago, the Magic have won four more games--25% of their season total mind you--including a season-best three game home win streak that featured stunners over both the Thunder and Pacers. Go figure. They came back down to earth with an 86-81 home loss to the Grizzlies just before the all-star break, but they've still won an encouraging four of their last seven games.

Since we last saw Orlando, Tobias Harris has moved back into the starting five while Victor Oladipo has returned to the role of super-sub, so presumably that's what we'll see again on Tuesday. That in turn has allowed Arron Afflalo to move back to his more natural shooting guard, though it leaves Oladipo's role more fluid. Via Orlando Pinstriped Post:

"I think when we talked about what Victor was, we said he was a guard, and I don't think we've changed from that," Vaughn said. "We've seen him bring the ball up at the one position and play off the ball and we've seen some good things both ways. I don't think we're at a position where we're forced to say, 'you're only going to do this in the course of the game.' I don't think as an organization that's where we want to be."