Milwaukee Bucks Game Previews: Winning Is Mandatory

Stephen Jackson defends the Spurs. No one can defend the Stephen Jackson tenure in Milwaukee. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucks pick-and-roll defense was so scary in a loss to the Hornets, someone should have gone to church. Now they have to try to improve it against the old masters: the San Antonio Spurs.

According to Synergy, the Bucks rank 28th in the NBA at defending the roll man on the pick-and-roll, allowing 1.17 points per possession on 56.1% field goal shooting. (Milwaukee does a better job with the ball handler on the pick-and-roll: 0.73 points per possession (8th).)   Offensively, the Spurs — with future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan setting the screens — generate 1.08 points per possession from their roll men (7th) on 58.2% field goal shooting.

It’s a recipe for trouble, as was Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich‘s plan to send home most of his starters before a recent road game in Miami.  The team was fined $250,000 by the NBA for that decision.

Some stats of an advanced variety

The Spurs play at nearly the same tempo as the Bucks, so expect a fast-paced back-and-forth affair.  However, it’s a shotmakers’ league, and the Spurs are better at making and preventing shots, as well as getting to the line.

If there’s one area where Milwaukee may have an edge, it’s in rebounding — but the Bucks will still need to make enough shots for rebounding to matter enough to influence a win.

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
Rk Team MOV ORtg DRtg Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA eFG% TOV% DRB% FT/FGA
5 San Antonio Spurs 6.61 107.9 100.9 93.1 .523 14.3 23.0 .199 .465 13.7 71.6 .182
20 Milwaukee Bucks -1.88 102.0 104.0 93.5 .476 13.1 26.2 .161 .490 15.2 73.4 .237
League Average 0.00 104.7 104.7 91.9 .488 14.0 27.3 .209 .488 14.0 72.7 .209
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/4/2012.

An old acquaintance

In the only matchup between the two teams last year, making shots is exactly what both teams did.  The Bucks won despite allowing the Spurs to hit 60% of their shots, in part because they made 52% of their own.  Former Buck (and current Spur) Stephen Jackson scored 34 points in his best game with the Bucks.  It was one shining sunflower in a morass of putrid, manure-worthy performances.

After Golden State acquired Jackson in a mid-season trade with Andrew Bogut, they sent him to San Antonio in a trade that netted them Richard Jefferson.

Jackson was off to another slow start this year, before his fractured a finger that is likely to keep him from the court until the new year.

Logjam

With Indiana winning over the Bulls last night, the Central Division is jammed once again.  The Pacers, Bulls, and Bucks sit in a three-way tie for first place with .500 records.

Winning the division has a huge incentive tied into it.  While the winner would earn the fourth seed in the playoffs, the current standings would slot the other .500 teams into the eighth and ninth seeds.

Topics: Gregg Popovich, Milwaukee Bucks, Stephen Jackson

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