Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bucks vs. Pelicans preview (Feb 12, 2014)

It takes no great insight to say that the 2014 Bucks season has been ugly.  They're four games behind Philly, who just lost by over 40 points in back-to-back games.  They're 7 1/2 point underdogs (at Nitrogensports.eu, a Bitcoin-based anonymous sportsbook) at home tonight against New Orleans.  (New Orleans has been that large a favorite only five times all season, and all of those games were at home.)  They have had injuries, player-to-player confrontations, free agent acquisitions publicly criticizing the coach and an offensive scheme that appears to come from the Big Ten.

Tonight could be yet another ugly one.  Only Zaza and Slava (a nice sounding pair if you say it with the right cadence) are healthy bigs.  Ridnour might be healthy enough to play, but it might not matter.  Wolters and Knight (two players I was very, very wrong about before the season) both play Ridnour's position and they've been the best offensive options over the last few games.  Hopefully Middleton will return to form and hopefully the Grecian Formula hasn't hit the rookie wall.  Gary Neal is a good enough shooter that he could give the Pelicans trouble.  That may be the team's best hope.

The current rotation looks like so:

Point guard: Wolters (starter), Ridnour

Wings: Knight (starter), Grecian Formula (starter), Middleton (starter), Neal

Bigs: Zaza (starter), Slava Raduljica

Knight will play some point and Middleton might be asked to defend a big now and then, but that's basically it.  Teams can win with a seven-man rotation in the NBA, but it'll be a stretch for that to apply to this team.

Keys for tonight

The P-cans' backups smoked the Raptors' backups on Monday night, with Tyreke Evans leading the way.  Knight has to do a great job on him.  Brandon has to use his athleticism to keep Tyreke outside.

Zaza and Slava have to keep their focus.  Anthony Davis thrives when defenders let their guard down.  If Davis hits a few jumpers, so be it.  The killer is when Davis finds space inside and gets easy buckets.

Gary Neal or Khris Middleton has to beat Eric Gordon in the perimeter scoring game.  If one of our guys goes for 28 and Gordon goes for 18, we might have a shot.

The NOLA guys are heading home for the All-Star break.  They probably have parties and traveling "friends" on their minds.  If the Pelicans lack focus in the second half the Bucks could get a duke here.

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