Milwaukee: 97.8 (27th)
LA Clippers: 110.6 (1st)
Milwaukee: 97.3 (5th)
LA Clippers: 107.5 (26th)
Milwaukee: 94.4 (6th)
LA Clippers: 91.5 (18th)
Clippers: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Stephen Jackson, Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden
Welcome to Lob City.
Sure, now Blake Griffin and Chris Paul want to tell you that they do not particularly care for the moniker, but Lob City is going to stick. When the two best dunkers in the league are paired with a two-point-guard offense, featuring the best pure passer of a generation, that’s the way it has to be. The Clippers have even filed paperwork to trademark the name. It isn’t going anywhere.
But it does mask the fact that the Clippers have a tremendous offense — one which currently sits atop the NBA in the offensive efficiency category (points per 100 possessions). For all his dunking prowess, Blake Griffin’s low-post game is severely underrated. He’s an efficient scorer and his 25.2 points per game is the 6th best mark in the league.
The Bucks, on the other hand, are reeling. They have lost three straight games on this Western trip, and have put together an overall mark of two wins and five losses while facing mostly non-playoff-caliber teams. Throw in the fact that they will be missing their best player, Andrew Bogut, and best offensive “glue” guy, Mike Dunleavy, and the worries in Milwaukee only get worse.
For all their prowess as a defensive team, the Bucks have two areas of gigantic concern on that end; both holes are magnified in Bogut’s absence.
1) The Bucks rank dead last, 30th in the NBA, in foul rate (when measured by the FT/FGA ratio): .264.
The Bucks foul too often. On this road trip, Milwaukee has lost the battle of free throw attempts by margins of 27-11, 28-16, and 30-21. Throw in the fact that they aren’t the greatest bunch at converting free throws, either (22nd in the league, 72.4%) and the Bucks are losing games at the free throw line. It enough to the negate the Bucks’ huge improvement from the field compared to last season.
2) The Bucks rank 29th in the league in defensive rebounding rate, .674.
Sure, Sacramento is worse by 1/1000th, but it’s hard to look down on them when they took down the Bucks 48 hours ago by exploiting this very weakness. Great defensive teams cannot allow their opponents get back nearly 1/3 of their misses. The Bucks do.
One last thought on the game: the Clippers, with five games played, have had the lightest game load up to this point of the season. In a season of compressed game dates, it may be a factor tonight. After all, you can’t be Lob City without fresh legs providing the lift.