Milwaukee: 101.6 (29th)
Indiana: 104.6 (23rd)
Milwaukee: 102.8 (4th)
Indiana: 105.9 (12th)
Milwaukee: 89.7 (26th)
Indiana: 94.6 (6th)
Outlook: Andrew Bogut is questionable for tonight’s game with the flu. He missed this morning’s shootaround, and his absence tonight would leave the Bucks extremely shorthanded in defending 7-2 Roy Hibbert and the other Pacer interior players. With Brockman doubtful (sprained left shoulder) and Ilyasova out (concussion), the Bucks will rely on Mbah a Moute, Gooden and Sanders. (Actually, even Sanders is officially listed as day-to-day, but Skiles spoke in a manner indicating that he expected Larry to play.) The decision not to retain Earl Barron is looking shaky at this point.
The good news is that Drew Gooden had his best game of the season is the Bucks’ most recent game against the Raptors. He brought a tremendous amount of energy off the bench, while hitting his first five shots of the game. He finished with 22 points and was the game’s high rebounder. Beyond shooting and rebounding, though, there was an energy and an enthusiasm from Drew that picked up his teammates after they started the game in a bumbling rut. It all started when he subbed in for Mbah a Moute at the power forward spot early in the game. The +/- numbers on Mbah a Moute and Gooden tell the real story — Drew was a team-high +15, while Luc was a team-worst -10.
For the past few weeks, the Bucks have been successful in exactly those games where Delfino and Salmons provide scoring punch from the perimeter. Against the Raptors, however, the Bucks won with Salmons scoring only 5 points. The reason? Milwaukee was still able to spread the defense with Gooden. He’s the one Buck big man with the ability to pull defenders away from the basket and hit long catch-and-shoot jumpers; when Mbah a Moute or Sanders play power forward, defenses can sag toward the middle. (Ersan Ilyasova functions almost as well as Gooden in this capacity.) Tonight, Drew may start and a trio of Salmons, Delfino, and Gooden may provide some open driving lanes for Jennings. Look for a big game from Brandon.
On the Pacers side, Darren Collison and Danny Granger are listed as probable, so given the circumstances surrounding this game, expect to see them in action.
Honestly, I expect the Bucks to win tonight, even without Bogut. Both teams had last night off and it’s also a must-win for both. With those factors relatively even, the better team should win.
Prediction: Bucks 87-86.