The Behind the Buck Pass staff tackles a few questions heading into Friday’s matchup with the Bobcats.
1. The Bucks have scored 100 or more points in just three games this season (one in OT), and Charlotte boasts the league’s fourth-best scoring defense, allowing just 92.4 points per game. Are there any weaknesses Milwaukee can exploit in this Charlotte defense and perhaps reach triple-digits tonight?
Henry Russo: When it comes to the Bucks putting up triple digits I think it is almost entirely up to how the Bucks shoot from outside. Whether they are playing a team that is strong or weak on the defensive end it really doesn’t matter. Even if the Bucks find a weakness in the Bobcats defense I still don’t think they’ll hit triple digits.
Dakota Schmidt: As a Bobcats writer for Queen City Hoops, I really haven’t witnessed a particular weakness in Steve Clifford’s defense. Perhaps the perimeter defense will be a little weaker with Kidd-Gilchrist sidelined but backup Jeff Taylor could fit in nicely. With that said, Charlotte will have to keep their eyes on O.J..Mayo as he’s been absolutely electric from beyond the arc so far this season.
Nick Whalen: Through the first month of the season, Charlotte has made great strides defensively, especially given their standing as the league’s worst defense last season. And while Kemba Walker is a solid defender, he’s undersized and its a matchup Milwaukee could try to exploit, particularly if he’s guarding the 6-3 Brandon Knight. Regardless, though, this Charlotte team rebounds fairly well and the Bucks’ second-chance points will be limited. Once again, they’ll likely rely on outside shooting; if the shots fall, 100 points is a possibility, but they may not need to reach triple digits to contend in this one. Charlotte has reached 100 points just once this season.
2. The Bobcats’ major offseason addition was forward Al Jefferson, who is off to a bit of a slow start. Injuries have certainly played a role – he’s played in only seven games – but the big man’s numbers are down across the board. His production is certain to increase as his ankle continues to heal, but do you expect Jefferson to emerge as a force for this team as the year goes on?
Henry: Al Jefferson will improve once his ankle heals, but I’ve never seen him as a force in the league. He’s a good player but his best days are behind him. Luckily for him he gets to collect pretty nice paycheck from Michael Jordan.
Dakota: It honestly depends on how Charlotte performs from the perimeter. If Jefferson does have a core of solid and efficient perimeter threats that surround him then he can definitely be a scary offensive player. During his days with Utah, it was clear that he was a double-team threat. That’s probably going to continue in Charlotte but the offense could get scarier if he could kick it out to some open perimeter threats.
Nick: Despite his lackluster defense, Jefferson is one of the top low-post scorers in the league. The lingering ankle issue has inhibited his production thus far, but once he nears 100% I expect his numbers to return to near his career averages of 16.4 points and 8.9 rebounds. He and Walker are an intriguing combination, and the offensive onus will be placed on him once healthy because, frankly, Charlotte is devoid of any true scorers. Gerald Henderson has developed into a formidable shooting guard, but when two of the team’s starters (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo) are offensively challenged, Jefferson will be the primary option almost by default.
3. Rebounding is something we’ve discussed at length with this Milwaukee team all season, but the Bucks finally won a rebounding battle Wednesday against Washington (with a +10 differential!). In terms of differential, Charlotte checks in right around the middle of the pack at 18th, while Milwaukee still remains 30th by a considerable margin. The Bobcats don’t have one or two volume rebounders who handle most of the workload; eight players average at least 4.0 rebounds per game. On the other hand, Milwaukee has just four players averaging that many. What will Milwaukee need to do to counter Charlotte’s depth on the glass?
Henry: The Bucks are pretty close to being a lost cause on the boards. My only advice from them is to get aggressive and box out once in awhile.
Dakota: Pray that Jeff Adrien was abducted by aliens? Adrien was the leading factor in Charlotte’s rebounding beatdown on Milwaukee last week. While it would impossible to ask this team to drastically in that department over a single week, it would still be nice to see them work a little bit harder on the offensive and defensive boards.
Nick: The Bobcats employ a very deep rotation, as 11 players average at least 14 minutes per game. This partially explains the rebounding depth, but another factor is size. Five of the eight players averaging at least 4.0 rebounds are power forward or centers, with the other three being starters in Kidd-Gilchrist, Walker and Hendereson. Charlotte brings some big bodies off the bench (Josh McRoberts/Biyombo, Jeff Adrien, Cody Zeller) and Milwaukee may have to counter with similar size to prevent another -16 differential, as was the case when these two teams squared off six days ago.
4. Charlotte sits at 7-9 overall and has neither won nor lost more than two games in a row this season. The Bobcats dropped their last two to Boston and Indiana, so if that trend continues tonight should be win. Will Charlotte send Milwaukee to its 11th straight defeat?
Henry: The Bucks streak continues, they fall 92-87.
Dakota: I can definitely see Charlotte taking the victory in this contest. Milwaukee is towards the cellar in every major offensive and defensive category and it will be tough for them to bounce back against a Bobcats team with an extremely solid defense.
Nick: The streak continues. This Milwaukee team is lacking confidence and Charlotte is right in the thick of the early-season Eastern Conference playoff sweepstakes, so they’ll be ready to play. Let’s go 98-91 Bobcats.