Nov 10, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview: A Trip to Philly for a Holiday


iNov 10, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Samuel Dalembert (21) holds onto the ball as Boston Celtics guard Courtney Lee (11) (left) and forward Jeff Green (8) (right) reach in during the fourth quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Celtics defeated the Bucks 96-92. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Remember when the Bucks chose not to extend the rookie contract of Brandon Jennings?  Remember how he came out and carved up the Celtics two days later?  (A performance that was a far cry from the 1/11 FG outing on Saturday that inspired this since-deleted tweet.)

The Bucks take on the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia tonight (6 PM ET).  The opponent is significant because Jennings will be matched up against 76ers guard Jrue Holiday. Holiday — in a situation quite similar to Jennings’ — got a 4-year, $41 million contract extension at the October 31st deadline.

I’m 99.99% positive that Brandon will enter the game well aware of this fact, but if not, can someone remind him?  It would be terrific if he played anywhere nearly as well as he did in the season opener.

Projected Lineups:

76ers: Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert

Coach Scott Skiles feels around on his forehead for a headband that is actually on Marquis Daniels’ head. (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch, US Presswire)

At some point, it needs to be noted that the starting five is quite different than the finishing five.  When Scott Skiles picks players for the crucial minutes, he typically goes with something like Ellis-Jennings-Dunleavy-Sanders, plus either Ersan Ilyasova or Ekpe Udoh. (My hunch is that it will be more Ersan and less Ekpe once Ilyasova finds his way out of his slump, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.) Others have been used at times, too, including Marquis Daniels and Samuel Dalembert.For the 76ers, Holiday is the leading scorer at 19.6 points per game.  Shooting guard Jason Richardson is listed as probable to return after missing four games with a sore left ankle that he sprained falling on a cameraman.

Philadelphia traded away Andre Iguodala in a multi-team deal that brought them Andrew Bynum, but Bynum has yet to appear in a game this season (bone bruise in his right knee).  Both he and fellow center (and former Buck!) Kwame Brown are out for tonight’s game.

The Sixers leading rebounder to this point in the season is small forward Evan Turner, the #2 overall pick of the 2010 draft.  Tobias Harris will have his hands full keeping Turner off the boards.  Boxing out isn’t yet a forte for Harris.

Some numbers to consider

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
Team ORtg DRtg Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA eFG% TOV% DRB% FT/FGA
Philadelphia 76ers 97.5 97.1 91.0 .454 14.8 26.4 .180 .476 15.4 77.5 .169
Milwaukee Bucks 102.3 101.8 95.2 .491 14.3 24.5 .173 .500 15.6 78.2 .244
League Average 102.5 102.5 92.9 .481 14.4 26.8 .205 .481 14.4 73.2 .205
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/12/2012.

A quick examination of the Bucks numbers shows that they are rebounding well — protecting their defensive boards while getting a greater share of offensive rebounds than they give up.  They are also keeping the pace they professed in the preseason:  an estimated 95.2 possessions per 48 minutes ranks them 3rd in the NBA.

But the Bucks are losing the battle of effective field goal percentage and free throw rates.  It’s hard to see them improving much in the free throw department — their overaggressive interior defenders aren’t afraid to challenge defenders at the risk of incurring fouls — so they need to push down their opponents eFG% to keep up with the better teams of the Eastern Conference.

In terms of their own (regular) field goal percentage, Jennings and Monta Ellis are both below 40%, while Ersan Ilyasova sits below 30%.  At some point, Ilyasova will regress back up toward his mean, but for Jennings and Ellis, those true means may not be much higher than their current marks.  If so, this season will be a long one.

On the bright side, Larry Sanders sits fourth in the NBA in both blocks per game (2.6) and field goal percentage (.658). Perhaps more impressively, Sanders is fifth in the league in defensive rebounding percentage (29.8%). Ekpe Udoh, who corrals 4.8% of available defensive rebounds, remains unranked and well-loved by astute Bucks fans.

Dunleavy doesn’t get the job

Mike Bresnahan, Lakers beatwriter for the LA Times, broke the story early this morning that Hall of Famer Phil Jackson will not be returning to coach the Lakers. Instead, former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni will get the job.

For what it’s worth, former Buck Mike Dunleavy — father of Mike, Jr — was the Lakers’ third choice after Jackson and D’Antoni. Dunleavy’s previous coaching stints include jobs with both LA teams and the Bucks.

Tags: Brandon Jennings Jrue Holiday Milwaukee Bucks