Jan 19, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) drives past Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (3) at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview: Bucks Welcome Playoff Hungry Trail Blazers

The Bucks (33-32, 17-16 home) will have their hands full Tuesday night as they square off against Rookie of the Year front-runner Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers (31-35, 9-24 away) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The last meeting between these two was played exactly two months ago on January 19th in Portland. It was the final game of Milwaukee’s week-long road trip, and the team was just seven games in to the Jim Boylan Era.

Ersan Ilyasova played arguably his best game of the season, scoring 27 points on 10-14 shooting and grabbing 14 rebounds in 27 minutes. Brandon Jennings added 30 points and 8 assists in route to a 110-104 Milwaukee victory. Oh yeah, Larry Sanders was also ejected after receiving a double technical for arguing with Joey Crawford. Since then, the Bucks are 12-14 and the Trail Blazers are 11-15.

The Bucks should have the fresh legs in this one, as Portland’s second half push fell short last night in Philadelphia. LaMarcus Aldridge missed a potential game winner at the buzzer, and the Sixers took down the Blazers 101-100. Milwaukee’s last game was a 115-109 victory over Orlando Sunday afternoon.

The Trail Blazers — 4.0 games back of the 8th seed in the Western Conference — may look at this game as a “must win” for their playoff hopes after their loss Monday. The Bucks, who currently sit in in the East’s final playoff spot, are just 2.5 games behind Chicago/Boston for the oh-so-coveted 7th seed and the opportunity to avoid a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat.  Atlanta lost too, leaving the Bucks just three games of the 5th spot in the East.

Projected Lineups

Blazers: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Marquis Daniels, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders

Injuries

Luc Mbah a Moute will not play for the Bucks as he continues to battle his turf toe injury. Ersan Ilyasova -- who has averaged 22.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game over the last three contests – missed Monday’s practice after sustaining injuries to his lower back and hip in Sunday’s win over Orlando. He’s listed as questionable, but it doesn’t sound like Ersan will be able to go Tuesday.

Numbers

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
Rk Team ORtg DRtg Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA eFG% TOV% DRB% FT/FGA
18 Portland Trail Blazers 106.6 108.1 91.2 .499 13.9 26.3 .201 .505 12.6 73.3 .191
19 Milwaukee Bucks 103.8 105.0 94.7 .478 12.8 27.5 .184 .488 14.4 71.0 .203
League Average 105.7 105.7 92.0 .495 13.7 26.6 .204 .495 13.7 73.4 .204
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2013.

As you can see, the Bucks and Blazers are two very similar teams when it comes to the numbers, one right behind the other when it comes to ‘Four Factors’. All indications point to this one being another close, down-to-the-wire game for the Bucks.

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Tags: Ersan Ilyasova LaMarcus Aldridge Milwaukee Bucks Portland Trail Blazers

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