Team Records: Milwaukee (20-24) at Portland (21-24)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -4
Refs: Marc Davis, Matt Boland, Sir Allen Conner.
The Skinny: Following a loss to an OKC team that simply took out their frustrations on Portland and then some, the Blazers return home for the first time in two weeks. They will debut both their new coach and several new players tonight to the Rose Garden faithful. The Bucks also made a big trade in recent days as well, acquiring Monta Ellis from the Warriors. Milwaukee has won five straight, the longest active streak in the league.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the Bucks, they have won eight of the last nine vs. Milwaukee.
Projected Bucks Lineup:
PF: Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey, 4th season) – 12.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
SF: Carlos Delfino (Argentina, 7th season) – 9.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.5 APG
C: Drew Gooden (Kansas, 10th season) – 14.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.4 APG
SG: Monta Ellis (Lanier (HS), 7th season) – 21.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6 APG
PG: Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy (HS), 3rd season) – 18.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.7 APG
Player to Watch: Drew Gooden (pictured at right) – Gooden has long been one of those players that falls into that category of not being good enough to build around but valuable enough to trade. As such, he has moved from team to team and is on his ninth team in only ten seasons. Limited by injuries much of the past few seasons, few expected Gooden to be anything other than he had been. However, when Bogut when down, Gooden stepped up. He is playing the best ball of his career and just won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award for the past week. Gooden is a quick big man who can rebound and score with a strong jump hook in the post. He is a mobile defender, although he sometimes makes mental errors. In the past he has often been criticized for poor shot selection and to a certain extent that is still true. What he has done this year to see his play skyrocket is threefold, slightly improve efficiency on both shots from the field and the free throw line, draw significantly more fouls than he had in the past and increase his assist rate to well above his career average. Whether he can keep it up is up for debate but for now Gooden is rolling.
Did You Know?: Earlier this year, Ersan Ilyasova tallied 29 points and 25 rebounds in a game vs. the Nets. It was the first 25-25 game for a member of the franchise in more than 36 years, and Ersan became only the third Milwaukee player to accomplish the feat. The other two were Swen Nater, who did it once and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who did it ten times.
Song of the Day: “Momma Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J, as a tribute to Joel Przybilla’s threat to “fuck up” Carlos Boozer during Friday’s win over the Bulls. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (shoulder), C Mehmet Okur (Back), PF Shawne Williams (Foot)
Milwaukee: Out – C Kwame Brown (Torn Pectoral), Probable – PF Ersan Ilyasova (Viral infection).
Milwaukee is a slow-paced team. Among the lowest scoring teams in the league, they rely almost entirely on defense to win games. Score big on them and you can win…this was the scouting report on the Bucks until they pulled off the Monta Ellis trade last week. Now while their identity is still being developed, it is fair to say that with two of the quicker triggers in the league on offense, Ellis and Jennings, they are a much faster paced offensive team that tries more to outscore you than to limit you on defense. They are still a solid defensive team, however, especially in the front court. In the end though, the key to beating them now is to make Ellis, Jennings and Delfino inefficient on offense, which is often not that hard, especially for those later two. If you can do that, you can beat them.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They hold the Bucks under 100. When the Bucks fail to score 100 points they almost never win, at least before the trade and probably after as well.
Milwaukee wins if: They outrebound Portland. Outside Gooden, the Bucks don’t have that many good rebounders. If they can still manage to outrebound Portland, they should be able to prevail.