Update (12:14 CT): The Bucks will start Jennings, Jackson, Dunleavy, Ilyasova, and Bogut tonight.
Bucks: Jennings, Delfino, Dunleavy, Mbah a Moute, Bogut
Bobcats: D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette, D.J. White, Boris Diaw
The Bucks break the seal on a fresh slate of games Monday night as they travel to Charlotte to face the Bobcats.
Despite finishing at the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive category last year, the Bucks start the season with a rare opportunity to face an offense with even more question marks than its own. Since the beginning of last season, the Bobcats have traded away their top two scorers — Gerald Wallace to Portland and Stephen Jackson to the Bucks — leaving coach Paul Silas searching for points.
He hasn’t found them in the first two preseason games. Charlotte averaged 77 points in a pair of games. In their most recent tilt, a 92-75 loss in Atlanta, Corey Maggette (18 points) was the only Bobcat to score in double-digits. One potential source of buckets for the Bobcats this season is rookie guard Kemba Walker. Walker, who propelled Connecticut to an NCAA title last season, led the Bobcats in scoring in their first preseason game.
In Stephen Jackson’s first game with the Bucks, he will face his old team. In both of his seasons in Charlotte, Jackson led the Bobcats in scoring. A hamstring injury ended his time with the Bobcats, and now he takes that same injury, plus a bad back, into the 2011-12 campaign. Those injuries prevented his participation at the start of camp. Jackson then received an epidural for the back pain on Monday, and played the final preseason game (plus a handful of practices). With any luck, he’ll sleep in late after his Christmas night album release party at Club Lux in Charlotte. Aah, the miracle of epidurals.
After being devastated by injury in 2010-11, the Bucks had a few issues with minor injuries during training camp. Most recently, Tobias Harris (dehydration), Carlos Delfino (sprained right wrist), and Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) have missed time. However, it is conceivable that coach Scott Skiles will have a full complement of choices when picking his 13 active players for Monday’s game.
If the Bucks are really a fringe playoff team, then they will need to take control of games in which Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut are guarded by D.J. Augustin and Boris Diaw, respectively. The Bobcats have some nice defensive players, but those aren’t two of them (or even one).
Can the Bucks pull off the road win? Who knows? But with a tough January schedule looming, this game is one the Bucks need to win.
Oh yes, and one more thing… the Bucks are back.