What if I told you a Mike D’Antoni-coached team has a better defense than one coached by Scott Skiles?
If you believe in defensive efficiency, the Milwaukee Bucks (20st) are looking up at the New York Knicks (12th) as they take a winless road record into Madison Square Garden tonight. Where’s the “30 For 30” production team when you need them?
Milwaukee Bucks: 96.9 (24th)
New York Knicks: 97.6 (23rd)
Milwaukee Bucks: 101 (20st)
New York Knicks: 99.1 (11th)
Milwaukee Bucks: 94.7 (14th)
New York Knicks: 96.2 (5th)
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Shaun Livingston, Carlos Delfino, Jon Leuer, Andrew Bogut
New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler
You may notice a name out of place in the projected lineups above (not Iman Shumpert). Thanks to a missed shootaround in New York, Stephen Jackson will be watching this one in his best NYC swag, and the per-rate assist machine that is Shaun Livingston will take his place to start the game. There are two pieces of asiago cheese bread around that compliment sandwich’s baloney.
Also according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Charles Gardner, sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy and defensive spiderman Luc Mbah a Moute are ready and willing to contribute. The Bucks have been short staffed in the departments of shooting and defense, so having Dunleavy and Mbah a Moute back to help out Brandon Jennings (20.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 6 rpg, 3-1 record against the Knicks last year).
Box Score Advantage: Scoring problems abound
The Bucks are expected to shoot and miss a lot of shots, but the Knicks have emulated many of those tendencies over the past handful of games. Carmelo Anthony in particular has been incredibly bad (34.3% fg over past five games), and Amare Stoudemire hasn’t been Captain Efficient either (18.3 ppg, 41.9% efg this season). It’s safe to say the Denver Nuggets officially won in the ’Melo-Drama that was the 2011 trading deadline.
One team has to score more points than their opponent over a 48 minute span in the NBA; that’s a rule. There is no aesthetic or watchable stipulation for getting to that point, so we could be in for a 40% shooting performance from the winning squad. Jennings’ success against the team that spurned him three years ago give the Bucks an advantage here.
Matchup to Watch: Tyson Chandler vs. Andrew Bogut
Tyson Chandler is a huge reason why an otherwise discombobulated Knicks defense gets consistent results every night, and since you’re reading a Milwaukee Bucks blog, you already know Andrew Bogut’s quarterback-like importance to the team’s defensive scheme.
Don’t watch Chandler to see an occasional dunk, or Bogut to groan when the problems in his 3-9 foot game are validated. Rather, this matchup is one to enjoy if you have any interest in watching a locked down interior influences offensive strategy.
With the sun-drenched shores of South Beach awaiting the Bucks on Sunday, and the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls on the road docket next week, this game presents the best chance for Milwaukee to break its eight game road losing streak. The Bucks couldn’t have picked a better place and time.
Winning four of five games at MSG over the past few years pre-qualifies the Bucks to have some confidence they aren’t destined for an ofer on the road this season. Combined with Jennings’ recent success against New York (and overall this year), and Dunleavy and Mbah a Moute’s returns, Milwaukee may be leaving for sunnier shores with a much-needed win.