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Dec 29, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) (left) and Miami Heat guard Ray Allen (34) (right) reach for the ball during the game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 104-85. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview: Going Streakbusting

The Miami Heat make a bit tonight at winning their 21st consecutive game. The Bucks want to stop them.

Miami comes into town on a 20-game winning streak, tying them with the 1970-71 Bucks for the third-longest winning streak in NBA history.  They are also the league’s defending champs, and they feature the reigning MVP. So they may be fairly good.

As Larry Sanders said recently about the Heat win streak, “They’re primed. They’re ready.”

In other words, the Bucks have a rare chance to seize the national spotlight.  The Bucks have had success against Miami recently, winning four of their last six games against the Heat.

But the conundrum for the Bucks is figuring out a way to stop LeBron James.  Luc Mbah a Moute has turf toe and is listed as questionable for the game.  Tobias Harris took a shot at guarding him early this season, but he’s been traded.  Mike Dunleavy is older, lighter, and slower than James.  He may get the assignment at the start of the game, but tasking Dunleavy with the job of guarding LeBron for 20+ minutes borders on the side of unfair.

If Luc is unable to go, then presumably a big defensive burden falls on reserves Marquis Daniels and Ekpe Udoh.

Projected Lineups

Heat: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders

Injuries

Luc Mbah a Moute missed Milwaukee’s game Wednesday due to a turf toe injury. He is listed as questionable.

Udonis Haslem

With the players around him on the Heat, Udonis Haslem doesn’t have be much offensively other than enough of a threat to keep the defense honest.  Lately, he had done just that.

In February and March, Haslem has converted 61% of his shots from 16-23 feet.

The Heat need a physical interior presence that Haslem gives them, both on defense and on the glass.  If his offense helps keep the floor spaced in April, May, and June, then Miami may soon be hoisting another trophy.

Some numbers

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
Rk Team ORtg DRtg Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA eFG% TOV% DRB% FT/FGA
3 Miami Heat* 112.4 104.3 90.7 .546 13.3 22.6 .223 .490 14.8 73.5 .209
19 Milwaukee Bucks 103.6 104.7 94.7 .478 12.9 27.3 .183 .487 14.5 70.8 .204
League Average 105.6 105.6 92.0 .495 13.7 26.6 .204 .495 13.7 73.4 .204
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/15/2013.

It’s a tad bit surprising that Milwaukee and Miami share comparable numbers on many of the ‘Four Factors’ numbers.  But the Heat do have an enormous advantage in the most important of the factors: shotmaking.  Scott Skiles used to like to say that it’s a shotmaker’s league.

If he’s correct and the Heat do make their shots, then they will likely add another tally to their streak.  If, on the other hand, the Bucks summon a high percentage of stops tonight, then they’re going to have a fair chance at stealing the headlines.

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Tags: Lebron James Luc Mbah A Moute Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks

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