The tastefully tattooed Miroslav Raduljica works against fellow-rookie Kenny Kadji of the Cavaliers.
Despite Saturday’s win over Philadelphia, the 6-21 Bucks remain the NBA’s worst team and are yet to string together consecutive victories. In an effort to change that, Larry Drew will once again switch up the starting lineup Monday against Charlotte.
Miroslav Raduljica will step in as the starting center, making his second start in the last three games. The seven-footer started Friday against Cleveland and held Andrew Bynum to eight points on 3-of-14 shooting. He came off the bench to score 14 points Saturday against Philadelphia.
“He does big man things,” Drew told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s a big body (7-foot-1 and 280 pounds). He really works around the paint area. He runs the floor.
“The minutes he’s played, he’s done a phenomenal job. He makes some mistakes and may forget a thing or two. But he’s making a conscious effort of what we ask of him and I can certainly see that he’s really trying to learn this stuff and get a feel for it.”
The decision to reinsert Raduljica into the starting lineup likely has as much to do with jumpstarting a stagnant Milwaukee offense that ranks last in the league as it does with countering Charlotte’s frontcourt size. Milwaukee’s forwards don’t match up well with big, physical players, and Al Jefferson is both of those things. The offseason addition spurred both Charlotte victories over Milwaukee earlier this season, and with Larry Sanders out of the lineup, Raduljica is the only player with enough size to handle Jefferson inside. After a foot injury cost him several games early in the season, Jefferson has found his stride in December, averaging 16.5 points and 10.9 rebounds in just under 34 minutes per game.
Drew also indicated that O.J. Mayo will continue to come off the bench, as has been the case each of the past two games. Mayo continues to struggle with consistency, scoring 20 points in Friday’s loss and just seven in Saturday’s victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo will make his fourth straight start at shooting guard, joining Brandon Knight, Caron Butler, Khris Middleton and Raduljica in the starting lineup. John Henson, who sat out Saturday after suffering a knee injury Friday, is considered a game-time decision. If he’s cleared to play, it appears it will be in a bench role.
With both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) and Jeff Taylor (Achilles) out Monday, Anthony Tolliver is expected to slot in as Charlotte’s starting small forward, as he did Saturday. The former Creighton standout signed with the Bobcats this offseason and is averaging 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 16.4 minutes. He’ll likely match up with Butler, while Middleton will be tasked with defending versatile, 6-11 forward Josh McRoberts. The former number one overall is attempting a career-high 3.1 three-pointers per game and draws defenders away from the basket much more than typical power forwards.