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Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview: Splitting Chicago

Nov 24, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings (3) shoots during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bulls defeated the Bucks 93-86. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Ersan Ilyasova’s preseason was humming along nicely. He had just come off a game with an 18-point quarter against Detroit. He had made 9-of-13 shots on the season. The Bucks traveled to Chicago, where Ersan started directly opposite Carlos Boozer.

He laid his first egg of dozens this season: a 1-of-9 shooting performance in the Bucks’ first loss of the preseason.

Scott Skiles has noted the problems in Ersan’s shooting form this season.  He has also said that even when Ilyasova struggles as a shooter, he needs to keep playing well in other aspects of the game, including defensively and on the boards.

He did neither in the Bucks’ loss to Chicago Saturday.  On one fourth quarter sequence, Boozer gave Ilyasova a two-hand shove, one that put Ersan way too far under the rim to factor, then Boozer collected an offensive rebound.  Without a whistle, Ersan was left to gesticulate to the refs as the Bulls reset their offense.

On another play, Boozer walked past Ersan for a game-deciding putback.  Ilyasova forgot/avoided/was afraid to do any sort of boxing out.  After the dunk, Boozer stood under the hoop and posed in the manner of a victorious Roman gladiator.

If I had to guess yay or nay, I would surmise that Ersan is at least a little bit psyched out by Carlos.

Projected Starters:

Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert

Jennings participated in the team’s pregame shootaround, as was evident in this tweet.

Samuel Dalembert should again be the starter after notching a DNP-CD: Tardiness for Saturday’s game. (Ok, I made up that box score line, but that does appear to be the reason Samuel missed the game this weekend.)

Some statistics:

From an advanced stats point of view, the Bucks and Bulls are just about even.

The Bucks are decent as rebounders, and they collect offensive rebounds at a rate slightly above the one in which they give them up.  They obviously need to improve against the Bulls though — while some of the offensive rebounds given up Saturday were tantamount to lucky bounces, a great deal of other were a result of sloppy technique or physically getting overwhelmed.

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
Rk Team SRS ORtg DRtg Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA eFG% TOV% DRB% FT/FGA
13 Chicago Bulls -0.40 101.7 100.9 91.8 .457 14.3 30.5 .230 .474 14.6 74.3 .192
15 Milwaukee Bucks -0.42 103.7 102.7 95.4 .485 12.6 25.4 .155 .490 15.7 75.1 .253
League Average 0.00 104.5 104.5 92.2 .487 14.0 27.1 .213 .487 14.0 72.9 .213
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/26/2012.

The Bucks do a great job of turning over their opponents without giving up nearly as many themselves.

The Achilles’ heel has been on display for the most recent three games:  free throw disparity.  The Bucks get to the line at the slowest rate in the league, while fouling the opposition at a top-5 rate.

I can’t see this problem ironing itself out, either.  The Bucks do foul a lot on defense.  They play aggressively.  It should result in allowing a lower field goal percentages that it does, but it doesn’t.  The Bucks are going to continue fouling.

On offense, their style of play doesn’t lend itself to getting to the line.  Dunleavy’s strength as a playmaker often comes from receiving the ball coming off screens while moving away from the hoop. When Ellis and Jennings move to the hoop, their finishing technique often involves getting an open look by darting jaggedly away from contact.  Ilyasova’s default move is a pump fake that no one falls for.

Perhaps utilizing Tobias Harris (especially if he consistently makes corner three-point shots) along the baseline will help.  It surely looks like his comfort zone, and there is often contact.

Overall, though, the Bucks situation won’t improve until they get seek to create contact — something they won’t do until they get a little more appreciation from the gentlemen and gentlewomen in stripes.

Tags: Brandon Jennings Chicago Bulls Milwaukee Bucks

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