Team Records: Portland (31-35) at Milwaukee (33-32)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Milwaukee -4
Refs: Bill Spooner, Kevin Fehr, Kane Fitzgerald
The Skinny: Following a tough loss in the final seconds in Philadelphia Monday, Portland travels to Milwaukee in search of a bounce back win vs. a Bucks team looking to escape a first round playoff matchup (and almost certain doom) with the Miami Heat. Milwaukee has been up and down as of late, going 6-4 in their last ten games.
Last Time They Met: The Bucks took a big lead on Portland and held off a late charge to beat the Blazers at the Rose Garden.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey, 5th season) – 12.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 APG
SF: Marquis Daniels (Auburn, 10th Season) – 5.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.1 APG
C: Larry Sanders (VCU, 3rd Season) – 9.1 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 8th season) – 19.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.9 APG
PG: Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy (HS), 4th season) – 18.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.7 APG
Player to Watch: Larry Sanders (pictured at right) – There were plenty in the NBA who saw Milwaukee’s pick of Larry Sanders with the 15th selection in 2010 as a possible steal. Through his first two seasons there was little to indicate this was the case but given a chance to shine this year, Sanders most certainly has. Sanders is one of the best shot blockers in the NBA and a fearsome defender inside. His rebounding and scoring are way up as well, although those tend to be a little more inconsistent for Larry. The biggest concern, honestly, may be his temper, which has seen him get ejected a league-leading four times this season, including in the first meeting with Portland. If he can stay on the court and find a way to harness that emotion, Sanders has the skills to be a very good player both now in the future for the Bucks.
Did You Know?: If the Bucks win tomorrow it will be their first four game win streak versus the Blazers since a four-game run from 1985-1986.
Song of the Day: “In Heaven There is No Beer”-by Dr. Demento, in honor of Milwaukee’s famed beer scene. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad).
Milwaukee: Out-SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Toe).
Re-Evaluating Milwaukee: Obscurity
There may be no more obscure team in the NBA than the Bucks. They haven’t been particularly good, or particularly exciting or even particularly bad at any time in recent memory and they are rarely on national TV. Maybe folks should be paying more attention. The Bucks are a fun team to watch and have a solid young core. If they can keep it together, while they are not likely to be a title contender anytime soon, they could be a consistent legitimate playoff team and perhaps win a series or two down the road. Here’s hoping this happens so the Bucks may not be so obscure in the future.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They hold the Bucks under 95. When the Bucks fail to score 95 points they almost never win this season, and Portland can do that if they can make Monta and Jennings inefficient.
Milwaukee wins if: They win the turnover battle. The Bucks are great at forcing steals and when they win they tend to force a fair number of turnovers. If they can do so Tuesday, they should prevail.