(Update: 3:05 PM — Larry Sanders and Samuel Dalembert are both starting, so presumably Ersan Ilyasova is not.)
The Bucks preseason campaign rolls on with a trip to western Wisconsin to take on the Memphis Grizzlies in a home game in La Crosse, Wisconsin. (7:00 PM CT, Radio: WSSP 1250). The game will be played at LaCrosse Center. The Bucks had their first loss of the preseason on Tuesday falling to the Bulls 100-94, and they now hold a 2-1 record (which I might add is 1st place in the Central Division!). The Grizzlies enter this game with an identical 2-1 record after beating Atlanta 110-102 on Sunday. In the one meeting between the two teams last season, the Grizzlies outdueled the Bucks at the BC, getting a 99-95 win.
Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Milwaukee: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert(?)
(Note: Going into the Chicago game, Scott Skiles said that he anticipated tinkering with the lineup in this Memphis game. The guess here is that he will re-insert Sam as a starter, but it could be some other type of change too.)
Cole’s 3 Keys to the Game
1. Perimeter Defense: With two offensive minded guards in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, we know the Bucks are going to have some struggles locking down backcourts this season. Tuesday night’s efforts against Nate Robinson was our first taste of that. The Bucks let 5’9″ Robinson- who’s not to frequently labeled as a star- drop 24 points and 13 assists in a little more then 36 minutes. I would not call that effective defense. Tonight the Bucks will face a rising star in Mike Conley who has had his share of great performances. Accompanying him in the Memphis backcourt is defensive minded Tony Allen, rookie Tony Wroten Jr., and veteran Jerryd Bayless. I know it’s still preseason, but the depth of the Grizzlies’ guard rotation could be a real test for the Bucks.
2. Big Men Play: The Grizzlies feature two offensive minded big men in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. While the Bucks have been highly praised for their front court play thus far, tonight will be by far their biggest test. If the “Swat Team” of Dalembert – Sanders – Henson can continue their blocking dominance against Memphis’ talented front court, watch out. This play could be a repeating pattern throughout this entire season, which would be incredible to watch.
For the Bucks, John Henson is expected to be restricted to non-impact activity for two weeks, so don’t expect to see him again in the preseason. On the other hand, Ekpe Udoh returned to practice today and is listed as probable for the game in La Crosse.
3. Bench Play: Scott Skiles played his usual “put whoever’s hot on the floor” card Tuesday against the Bulls. This resulted in an all-veteran lineup of Udrih-Daniels-Dunleavy-Gooden-Dalembert, and they actually played quite well together. That group was clicking offensively and sparked a nice comeback that ultimately fell just short, but it was still encouraging to see. Skiles being the maestro of this team and finding good combinations could really play a big role against a good Grizzlies team, and throughout the season as the Bucks play more talented teams.
Footnote: According to the Squad 6 Facebook page, this year’s band of merry pepmakers is being sponsored by Ersan Ilyasova and tryouts are being held October 20th. ’Squad 7′, anyone?