Fresh off a loss from the Houston Rockets, the Bucks travel 200 miles west to San Antonio to take on the Spurs Sunday night. The Bucks are currently riding an eight game losing streak; a that trend probably won’t end soon.
The loss on Saturday had some good performances by Brandon Knight (26 points/seven assists) and John Henson (20 points/15 rebounds). But there were also some very poor performances, particularly from Ersan Ilyasova. He just hasn’t been able to find his offensive game at all this season, and last night was no exception. Considering that he’s a below average defender as well, he really doesn’t bring anything to the table for the Bucks right now. The Bucks as a team had a real problem trying to contain Houston’s Terrance Jones/Dwight Howard frontcourt. The duo combined for 56 points and 25 rebounds, with Jones going for 36 points and 11 rebounds. A lot of Jones’ points predictably came against Ilyasova, who couldn’t do anything as an on ball defender.
It won’t get any easier playing the Spurs, who are fresh off a loss at home to the Blazers. It was a throwback night for Manu Ginobli, who finished with 29 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. The game was close in the fourth quarter, but after two late Wes Matthews threes, the Blazers finally pulled ahead and won 109-100. San Antonio wasn’t at full strength for the game either, as they are without Tiago Splitter and Danny Green for the next three weeks at least. Tony Parker is also nursing a shin contusion, which slightly limited his effectiveness.
The last time the Bucks and Spurs played, it wasn’t even close. San Antonio won 109-77 and no Bucks starter even scored in double digits. Tim Duncan dominated the Bucks in that game, who had 21 points and 16 rebounds. The Bucks can take solace in the fact that the game can’t possibly be worse than that.
What to watch for:
San Antonio’s Frontcourt: Considering that a strong frontcourt just destroyed the Bucks last night, it seems reasonable to be wary of a similar performance by the Spurs. Both Tim Duncan (who had 21 points and 16 rebounds in the previous meeting) and Boris Diaw can be very effective scorers in the post and either can take advantage of the liability that is Ersan Ilyasova.
Brandon Knight: Knight has been the Bucks second best player by far this season and has been on a good tear during the month of January scoring-wise. He’s averaging 18 points a game and should be able to take advantage of an injured Tony Parker.
Giannis: To be honest, Giannis is the main reason to watch any Bucks game right now. He’s been holding his own, and provided some amazing splash plays in the past week. He’ll face a tough test against Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs, who do a good job limiting the back door cuts he usually scores on. It will be interesting to see if he can change his offensive game a bit to get some points on the board.
PG – Tony Parker
SG – Marco Belinelli
SF – Kawhi Leonard
PF – Boris Diaw
C – Tim Duncan
PG – Brandon Knight
SG – Luke Ridnour
SF – Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF – Ersan Ilyasova
C – Larry Sanders