Team Records: Milwaukee (20-18) at Portland (20-19)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM (moved due to Beavers basketball)
Vegas Line: Portland -4.5
Refs: Danny Crawford, Dick Bavetta, Eric Dalen
The Skinny: Following their fourth straight loss against the lowly Cavs on Wednesday, Portland looks to end that streak vs. a solid Milwaukee team. The Bucks have been alternating wins and losses as of late, and their inconsistency led to the firing of coach Scott Skiles a few weeks back.
Last Season: The Bucks swept the Blazers 2-0 last season, with both games coming after the team “blew it up” at the trading deadline.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey, 5th season) – 8.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 APG
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (UCLA, 5th Season) – 8 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.2 APG
C: Larry Sanders (VCU, 3rd Season) – 8.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 8th season) – 18.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.4 APG
PG: Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy (HS), 4th season) – 18.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.7 APG
Player to Watch: Brandon Jennings (pictured at right) – Ready, fire, aim! That’s pretty much the thought process Jennings goes through every time he gets the ball on offense. To say Jennings isn’t afraid to shoot is to put it mildly. He will fire away often from anywhere on offense, despite the fact that he is streaky at best, especially from deep. For a player that relies so heavily on scoring the ball for his value, he has trouble finishing at the rim as well. He doesn’t pass the ball much either but still, he is a decent defender and his offense, when on, can be scary good. He has to be monitored at all times since like, say, Jamal Crawford, he is equally capable of shooting your team into, or out of, any game.
Did You Know?: The Bucks have already won eight games this year when they trailed by double digits, including a comeback from a 27 point deficit in Chicago back in November.
Song of the Day: “Rockin’ the Suburbs”-by Ben Folds, one of my favorite songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-C Meyers Leonard (Ankle)
Milwaukee is that fun combination of fast paced but low efficiency on offense. They have two of the quicker triggers in the league with Ellis and Jennings and fire up a lot of shots, but make them at a low rate, sporting the fifth worst offensive efficiency in the league. On defense, they are quite good at blocking shorts (first in the league with other 7 blocks a game) and they are in the top of the league in steals. They do a decent job in half court defense but have a problem with fouling too much, allowing 23 FTs a game, which puts them in the bottom third of the league. They can be inconsistent and often start out slowly, and you can never count them out (as Chicago learned when they gave up that 27 point lead earlier this year) and they actually have a negative point differential (as does Portland). In that sense, like the Blazers, they specialize in winning games they perhaps shouldn’t and you always have to be on the lookout for these Bucks.
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 Saturday, they should prevail.