Team Records: Portland (27-29) at Milwaukee (27-28)
Game Info: 5:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Milwaukee -4.5
Refs: Rodney Mott, Olandis Poole, Kevin Scott
The Skinny: Following a surprising win over Dallas last night, the Blazers travel to Milwaukee to face a Bucks squad that needs every win it can to try and make a late push for the last east playoff spot. The Bucks have been feasting on the NBA’s weakest teams recently, coming off a closer than it probably should have been win over Charlotte last night.
Last Time they Met: The Bucks pummeled the Blazers in Portland, burying them from downtown and handing Canales a loss in his first home game as head coach.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey, 4th season) – 12.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (UCLA, 4th Season) – 7.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, .7 APG
C: Ekpe Udoh (Baylor, 2nd Season) – 5.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 7th season) – 20.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.9 APG
PG: Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy (HS), 3rd season) – 18.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.6 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, ranking near the bottom of shooting guards in assist percentage. 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?: Monta Ellis accomplished a rare feat Wednesday, scoring 30 points without making a single 3-point basket or free throw. The only other Milwaukee player to do so, Glenn Robinson, who did so back in 2001 vs. the Spurs.
Song of the Day: “Rockin’ the Suburbs”-by Ben Folds, one of my favorite songs and in honor of Luke Babbitt, our new favorite player! Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (shoulder), PF Shawne Williams (Foot).
Milwaukee: Out – C Kwame Brown (Torn Pectoral), Questionable-PF Drew Gooden (Back), SF Carlos Delfino (Groin).
Re-Evaluating Milwaukee: Worth Making the Playoff Push?
Milwaukee probably should have been a better team last year but they couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn on offense. Now they find themselves in the midst of a race with New York for the last playoff spot out east. If they earn this honor, it will probably mean a quick trip home for the Bucks after facing Chicago or Miami. Still, for a team that has almost no players with real playoff experience maybe this is valuable as they attempt to move forward longterm. Its probably more important for New York but given the small difference in draft picks, its worth at least a shot for the Bucks.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They hold the Bucks under 100. When the Bucks fail to score 100 points they almost never win, especially after trading for Monta.
Milwaukee wins if: They outrebound Portland. The Bucks don’t have that many good rebounders. If they can still manage to outrebound Portland, they should be able to prevail.