December 9, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings (3) is defended by Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) during the fourth quarter of an NBA game at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview: Hey Brooklyn, Let's Play Two

Remember back in 2009 when the basketball world debated whether Chris Paul or Deron Williams was the league’s best point guard? I do.  Seems like a long time ago.  Unfortunately for Williams, that debate ended a while back too.

When Paul hurt his knee in 2010, it looked like the bigger, stronger Williams was the sole choice for Best Point Guard Alive.  But the tables turned shortly thereafter, and it is Williams who has struggled recently — both with injuries and his overall play through those ailments.

When he takes the court in Milwaukee tonight, Williams will be playing for the first time since receiving platelet-rich injections in both ankles a week ago.  The injuries are taking a slow toll on his game.

I can’t jump. … I can’t dunk. Even if I tried, off one leg I can’t dunk. I can dunk off two, but if I tried to jump off my left leg, I can’t dunk, so it’s definitely affected me.

The Bucks are 2-0 in the season series with the Nets that ends this week:  the pair play tonight in Brooklyn, then again tomorrow in Milwaukee.  Even though Williams is expected to play tonight, it is much less clear if he will participate in Wednesday’s rematch.

Along with Brandon Jennings, Williams has been one of the lowest performing starting point guards in the paint this season, converting 51% of his field goal attempts.  His outside shooting has also suffered.  Overall, Williams has averaged 16.7 points (on 41.3 percent shooting) 7.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds this season, a far cry from the days when Deron was an efficient 20/10 machine.

The Nets signed Williams to a five-year, $98 million contract last summer.  Oooofh.

The Bucks likely have a star returning too.  Larry Sanders took part in his first full practice yesterday since injuring his back, and he said that the likelihood of him playing tonight is “70-30“.

Projected Lineups:

Nets: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders

Some Numbers:

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
12 Brooklyn Nets 0.53 0.61 106.9 106.3 88.0 .489 14.0 30.2 .227 .502 13.1 73.3 .172
18 Milwaukee Bucks -1.04 -1.47 102.8 103.9 94.4 .469 13.0 28.4 .182 .482 14.8 70.2 .210
League Average 0.00 0.00 105.5 105.5 91.8 .493 13.7 26.8 .204 .493 13.7 73.2 .204


Ersan Ilyasova had a 25-rebound effort last year against the Nets in New Jersey, but he didn’t do it against Reggie Evans. Evans is a crafty rebounder who knows all the dirty tricks of surviving in the paint.  Ilyasova will have his hands full tonight muscling the full-bodied Evans off the boards.  If he can, the Bucks should have a fair chance winning the rebounding battle with Brooklyn.

Milwaukee has a speed advantage in this game.  They simply need enough defensive rebounds and forced turnovers to take advantage of it.

The Bucks also need to not have Thursday’s trade deadline mess with their collective heads.

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Tags: Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams Larry Sanders Milwaukee Bucks

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