The Orlando Magic played a near-flawless game last night against the Detroit Pistons, and one hopes they bottled whatever formula they used, as they'll certainly need it tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. Rotation players Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Mickael Pietrus, and J.J. Redick have returned home from the road trip early. Ryan Anderson's sprained right foot and Daniel Orton's assignment in the NBA D-League will once again limit Orlando to eight players in uniform, and only six who count themselves in the playing rotation on a nightly basis.
Orlando topped the Detroit Pistons last night with all eight of its players topping their season minutes-played averages, and Vince Carter had to play 40, so fatigue could be a factor in their second game in as many nights, especially against a Bucks team that's had two days to rest. And even in its disappointing state--Milwaukee's lost 12 of its 18 games to date after earning a 46-36 record last year--the Bucks can really hurt Orlando. Though indeed the offseason additions of Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden haven't addressed Milwaukee's sad offense, the Bucks still rank as the league's sixth-best defensive team. Coach Scott Skiles' wizardry on that end of the court has his team forcing turnovers and limiting second-shot opportunities, so Orlando likely won't be able to go cuckoo bananas offensively, as it did against Detroit. I expect a lot of post-ups from perimeter players tonight: Carter, Rashard Lewis, and Quentin Richardson will look to exploit their size and skill advantages against Milwaukee's wings whenever possible. The hope is that a post-up offense won't lead to a helluva lot of standing around, though. That's a tough balance to strike.
The Bucks will have the beta version of franchise center Andrew Bogut back in the lineup (hat tip: Brew Hoop) tonight after a three-game absence. Were it not for Howard's dominance, Bogut likely would have taken home Defensive Player of the Year honors last season. But a horrific arm injury suffered late last season has really set him back, especially offensively, where the seven-footer is converting only 48 percent of his shot attempts. When it comes to Milwaukee's offense, it's telling that only rebounding specialist Jon Brockman has a True Shooting mark over the league average, and even then his usage rate is in the single digits. The Bucks' roster includes solid wing options like Maggette, John Salmons, and even Chris Douglas-Roberts, but all have struggled mightily this season. Based on the deficiencies both teams have, I wouldn't be surprised if this game ended with a final in the 85-83 range, with shooting percentages in the mid-to-high thirties.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|15-4 (6-2 road) |
|6-12 (4-4 home) |
|December 4th, 2010|
|Fox Sports Florida / NBA TV|
|Chris Duhon||PG||Brandon Jennings|
|Vince Carter||SG||John Salmons|
|Quentin Richardson||SF||Luc Mbah a Moute|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Ersan Ilyasova|
|Marcin Gortat||C||Andrew Bogut|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|91.1 (20th)||Pace||91.0 (22nd)|
|109.0 (11th)||ORtg||99.8 (30th)|
|100.0 (1st)||DRtg||102.3 (6th)|