Boston: 109.4 points/100 possessions (9th)
Milwaukee: 103.4 points/100 possessions (24th)
Boston: 99.1 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Milwaukee: 103.5 points allowed/100 possessions (8th)
Probable Bucks starters:
Brandon Jennings, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino
Thumbnail: The C’s face one of the league’s early surprise teams (and some rookie kid) and enjoy a home-cooked meal or two before heading on the road for three games and 10 of their next 14.
WHAT THE BUCKS DO WELL:
• Force turnovers. The efficiency numbers above tell you the Bucks are a good defensive team, but they’re not good at defense because they force their opponents to miss a ton of shots. The Bucks rank in the middle of the league in opponents’ field-goal shooting; they earn their defensive ranking instead through straight-up theft of the basketball. Only one team (that would be the C’s) forces turnovers more often than the Bucks, and Scottie Skiles’ boys led the league in that category last season, so this isn’t a fluke.
I’ll set the over/under on C’s turnovers tonight at 16.5. Take the over.
• Protect the defensive glass. Only three teams secure a higher percentage of defensive boards. Put simply: When you miss, you’re unlikely to get a second chance. Toss in the fact that Boston ranks 28th in offensive rebounding percentage, and the C’s better make those first shots count.
(Note: Sensing a pattern? The Bucks excel in areas where Boston is already weak. Interesting).
• Shoot threes: Despite the Jennings hype, the Bucks have been a pretty poor offensive team. They’ve steered clear of total offensive awfulness by hitting 37.8 percent of their threes—6th-best in the league. Jennings is still shooting a ridiculous 44.8 percent from deep, as his prolonged shooting slump basically resulted from his clankeriffic percentage on floaters and shots near the rim. Carlos Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova are also shooting well from three.
The Bucks also protect the ball, averaging a turnover every 12.8 percent of their possessions—4th-best in the league, and very sold considering they’ve turned the keys over to super-hyped rookie.
WHAT THE BUCKS DO POORLY:
• Free throws. The Bucks are getting murdered at the foul line. At this moment, they’re pulling off a fairly dubious double: They’re dead last in getting to the line on offense (by a wide margin) and are giving up the most free throw attempts in the league (as measured by opponent free throw attempts per field-goal attempt). In an average game, they are attempting a startling nine fewer foul shots than their opponents.
It’s hard to win when you spot a team so many extra points.
• Shoot two-point shots. You know, the ones from inside that arc painted sorta far from the hoop?
The Bucks make 45 percent of their two-point attempts, which is pitiful. The C’s, for instance, hit 57.4 percent of their shots from inside three-point range. According to Hoopdata, the Bucks rank dead last in shooting percentage on shots at the rim (54.7 percent) and near the bottom in shots from between 10 and 15 feet and from 16 feet to the three-point line.
Jennings sort of epitomizes the trend. He’s white-hot from three-point range (45 percent) and awful inside the arc (41 percent).
So the game plan should be pretty obvious: Take away the threes, and the Bucks are cooked.
PLAYER WHO MAKES ME WORRY:
• Mbah a Moute. One of the best perimeter defenders in the league already. Showed on Sunday that he can hold his own guarding LeBron. Paul Pierce will have to work hard for his points tonight.
• Ilyasova. A rangy power forward-ish player (at least in this offense) whom KG will have to chase around the floor and respect from three-point range. Remember Oleksiy Pecherov?
• Luke Ridnour. He’s shooting a career-best 51 percent from the floor and sharing a lot of back court minutes with Jennings in a two point guard line-up. Ridnour (and Hakim Warrick) are streaky players; when they’re hitting, the Bucks can be tough.
PLAYER WHO DOES NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
• Dan Gadzuric. One of the Kings of the Voskuhl.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’s TONIGHT:
• A defensive destruction of the Bucks. Milwaukee seems like a team the C’s defense is built to throttle. Run them off the three-point line, react to the resulting penetration with solid interior rotations and watch them toss up bricks.
• KG and Ray Allen in the post. Two of the following three players will likely see some time on Ray: Ridnour, Jennings, Charlie Bell. They are, respectively, 6’2”, 6’1” and 6’3”. When the match-ups are right, Doc has been more the willing to isolate Ray in the post. The match-ups are right tonight.
• Tony Allen. He’s back. Word of advice: Do not stare directly at Tony Allen on dribble-drives until you hear a whistle. Only then is it safe to look.
• The Bucks are a nice team, but their offense should not be able to hang against the C’s defense. Then again, we’ve seen Boston coast against some below average clubs (Philly at home on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, New Jersey and Minny on the road), so you never know. C’s 98, Bucks 86.