Game Preview #27: San Antonio Spurs @ Milwaukee Bucks - For the Sake of the Fans

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We won't have this guy this time around, folks

The Spurs are the Grinch. Ours, at any rate.

Just as Christmas Eve rolled around, they decided to play one of their worst games of the season against a team comprising two rookies, a corpse and no all-stars. One of our best players of the season was out (yes, I'm talking about Matt Bonner, deal with it), and that certainly didn't help in a game where the only guy able to score from afar seemed to be Money - but when your "Big 4" aren't enough to stop Jerryd Bayless and LaMarcus Aldridge, you might as well roll over and die.

I'm usually stuck in positive mode until the very last nail in the coffin, but considering this happened during my birthday, I've decided to go full emo. Despair, hopelessness and sorrow, after the jump.

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San Antonio Spurs @ Milwaukee Bucks
Where: Bradley Center - Milwaukee, WI
When: December 26, 2009, 7:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: Fox Sports Southwest, NBA LP


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How They Stack Up
12-5 Home 9-6
3-6 Road 3-9
101.6
Offense 98.0
96.9 Defense 97.8
47.9 FG% 43.3
38.5 3-pt% 36.3
74.5 FT% 72.6
42.3 Rebounds 42.8
14.3 TOs 13.9
6-4 Last 10 3-7
Lost 1
Streak Lost 1
3rd, Southwest Position 2nd, Central

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 10:30 PM
West Coast
5:30 PM
Philippines 9:30 AM
Central Europe 2:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 3:30 AM
East Coast 8:30 PM
Scenic Time Zone
6:30 PM
Perth, AUS 9:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 10:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 11:30 AM

Spurs
(15-11)
Matchups

Bucks
(12-15)

Tony Parker
Dribble the ball off your leg

Point Guard

I've tried to figure out why we're all so down on Tony. He's scoring efficiently, and still finishes in traffic pretty well. His stupid TOs are annoying, but they don't have that big of impact on his overall performance. I've come to the conclusion that it's the unavoidable comparison to 2008-09 Tony that bugs us. 2008-09 Tony was able to take over games, to carry this team without a 3rd or a 4th big and with Tim hobbling. 2009-10 Tony is a shadow of his former self, and always seems to muck it up when we need him the most. At least, in our minds.

Meanwhile, Jennings proved he could score when he was the team's first option, but he hasn't been nearly as successful since Bogut and Redd came back. It's understandable, especially for a rookie, but he has to learn to contribute with fewer shots. Still, I'm giving him the edge because I doubt he'll turn the ball over as much as Tony, and he might even know how to run a fast break. (Pass the ball, Frenchie!)

Advantage: Bucks


Brandon Jennings
Be a short-lived ROY pick

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Keith Bogans
Won't ever be Bowen

Shooting Guard

Bogans probably knows quite a bit about Redd, considering his origins, but I still doubt he'll be able to win this matchup. After a couple of great offensive games he was a complete zero once more against the Blazers, and in fact he had the team's second worst +/-.

Redd, at his peak, in one of Those Players. You know, the semi-franchise players that would be perfect second/third options for a contender. However, since he came back this season after his injury he hasn't been himself: his numbers are way down across the boxscore, and he's probably hurting his team more than he helps. I imagine his coach is trying to get him in shape while playing, so he gave Redd green light to let it fly, but it's been ugly.

Still, Redd can catch on fire any night, so he gets the nod.

Advantage: Bucks


Michael Redd
Score, score, and never look back

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Richard Jefferson
Just can't take over

Small Forward

Rage goes back "home". RJ has proven he retains much of his famous athleticism, and he has been spectacular finishing strong at the basket. Unfortunately, he seems to need to be reminded of that constantly. RJ needs to score, because when he doesn't, he's all but invisible on the court.

Carlos is a player I've seen play for many years, and it's this simple: he sucks. Granted, he has a lot of talent - but no heart. On any given night he can be a white Michael Jordan, doing anything and everything, and then he'll disappear for a five-game stretch and you will be left scratching your head in confusion. He's the only Argentine player I know that can finish at the rim with nearly as much skill as Manu, but don't worry, he won't. Instead he'll take countless ill-advised threes and try to win the game with as little effort as possible. As I said before, he sucks, and he's probably the reason the Bucks might not make the playoffs. That is, if Skiles doesn't stop screwing around and gives Mbah a Moute most of his minutes. Now.

Of course, knowing what kind of season it has been he'll probably drop 30 on us just to spite me. He gets the nod.

Advantage: Bucks


Carlos Delfino
argentinosaurus would say "meh"

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DeJuan Blair
Foul a lot, like a rookie

Power Forward

For once, I think, Timmy is our real PF, despite being much taller than DeJuan. Tim's jumper is falling much more often than in any season before, and if my eyes don't deceive me he's pushing the boundaries of his usual range. Moving about the paint, where he can use his talent to corral offensive rebounds and use his slick post moves, is Blair, our diminutive center. However, I have a feeling Bogut will be on Duncan, so I stand by my decision.

DeJuan will be a great NBA player in a couple of seasons - but right now, as much as it pains us, he's only a gifted rookie. He's foul-prone and hasn't figure out how to stop taller players from simply turning around and shooting over him, and that kept him on the bench during the Blazers lost. The Beast has a lot to learn.

Who's Ersan Illyasova? Well, he's the guy who destroyed us in our first encounter of this season, I know that much. He's cooled off since, so much so that we might even see former Spurs Francisco Elson and Kurt Mad-Eye Thomas, but he's tall, he rebounds well, and he has three-point range. Or at least his coach thinks he does. If Pop doesn't put SAM on him, I expect DeJuan to find himself way out of his depth at some point tonight.

You usually don't want to bet against the beast, but...

Advantage: Bucks


Ersan Ilyasova
In Turkey, do like the Turks

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Tim Duncan
Let him shoot over you

Center

Tim is great. He's MVP-great. It bothers me every time I go to ESPN or Fox Sports or any of the big sites and I fail to find any articles by the well-known hacks there saying so. One of the biggest reasons I want the Spurs to have a good regular season record is that I want that corrected, soon. But please, Tim, please! Defend! You're the keystone of our defense, and it all falls apart when you let rookies shoot over you 6 feet from the hoop. Duncan has had some defensive lapses this season that really have me at a loss.

And on the Buck's corner we have Andrew Bogut. The Aussie is a helluva player, one of my favorite bigs, along with Big Al and Yao. He rebounds like a beast (maybe not The Beast), he plays within himself, and he's just good. He has to be a Spur someday - right, RC? And worst of all, he owns Tim. There's no question about it (well, unless someone finds stats that contradict my point, then I take it all back): he absolutely owns him. I don't know what it is about Bogut, but our GOAT has always had fits going against him.

Advantage: Bucks


Andrew Bogut
High-five yourself, and the world will laugh with you

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Manu Ginobili
Just settle for a fadeawat

Bench & Role Players

Two of our three stars for the last game against the Bucks were Bonner and Cubits. Unfortunately, one has a broken bone and the other has a broken shot. Has anyone else noticed how abysmal Hill has been lately? He can't make a jumper off the dribble, his corner 3 is AWOL, and he chooses to drive at all the wrong moments, which usually ends in embarrassing dunks. I don't know what's going on, but I miss the early season Hill.

And Manu, ooh, Manu. Bizarro Manu passes like Manu, he steals the ball like Manu, sometimes he even blocks and rebounds like Manu. But in the last three game, Bizarro Manu shoots fadeaway threes and fadeaway turnaround almost-threes, and fadeaway one-handed floaters, and fadeaway fadeaways. And Bizarro Manu only remembers he can drive to the basket when the game is slipping away, and it's almost too late. I like to think that this is something the coaches put him up to, because he won't ever be himself playing like a scared bunny. Look, I wouldn't ask it of him if he were injured or had lost the ability to do it - but I've seen him do it, dammit. At the very least he needs to drive and pass, because he's still our best passer.

The Buck's bench is as average as they come, with luminaries such as Luc Mbah a Moute, Charlie Bell and Luke Ridnour, but I still think they'll make more threes than our depleted BAM.

Advantage: Bucks


Luke Ridnour
Matter in Milwaukee, and nowhere else

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Gregg Popovich
Scorn at everyone, and then tiny ball

Coach

What is Pop thinking? Don't ask me. We were back in the game in the 4th quarter of the Blazers game, either 1 point up or 1 point down, and he decides to pull Tim, our best player of the night. I understand that he's old and had played a lot of minutes that night, so it was probably a good idea. Subbing Blair in was not. Tiny ball, which Michael Erler has taught us to hate, put RJ as our impromptu 4 and our shortest big, DeJuan, had to deal on his own with two guys that had abused him all night long. And then we went even smaller when Tony subbed in for Manu. A couple of minutes later we were down 7 or 8 and I was ready to barf my dinner. Why?! Hadn't McDyess played well in the seconds you let him play? What happened to Theo, whose Youngetivity had made him the star of the Clippers game? What were you thinking?!

Scott Skiles gets this, because I'm pissed off.

Advantage: Bucks


Scott Skiles
Be strict and then then have the players sack you
images via yahoo.com

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OTHER FACTORS

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Intangibles

We don't feel like putting the necessary effort to beat an inferior team.

Advantage: Bucks

Mojo

We lost during Christmas Eve, and injuries took away two or our best three-point shooters.

Advantage: Bucks

Winner

We suck.
Prediction: Bucks, of course

Keys To The Game

  • Turnover - Do I even need to explain this one? We had "only" 13 TOs in our last game, but it's still very much a problem for us.
  • 3-Pointers - We're a team that is deeply in love with the three-point shot, and we tend to lose games where we shoot badly. In fact, I just decided to investigate how closely related these factors are, but I don't expect to be surprised. Live or die by the three, guys - and without Finley and Bonner and with Manu and Hill airballing at will, we're likely to die.
  • Stop Bogut - Have I mentioned that he owns the Spurs? Fred wrote a post about how effectively we stopped Jennings after our victory in November. Hopefully he'll be able to write another one about how we stopped Bogut tomorrow. (But I doubt it.)

Strength of Schedule

We played on November 23rd, lost miserable, and had two days to cool our heads. This is the first game of a back to back (we play tomorrow at New York), so expect Extra-G to limit the players' minutes and put some ludicrous lineups on the floor.

The Bucks are on a very similar situation, having lost a winnable game against the lowly Wizards two days ago, but they only play again till the 28th. Lucky us.

Last Time They Met

We played against the Bucks on November 23rd, just as we tried to fight our way back to .500, and won handily. Of course, this was against a depleted roster that lacked its best two players, and we depended on Bonner's hot hand. Historically, the Bucks have always gives us problems, and in fact swept us last season.

Here's a boxscore.

Some Other Reading

Bucks

Brew Hoop - The Bucks' SBN blog. I don't know the first thing about it, but the top guys write good, entertaining posts.
Bucks Blog - The TrueHoop blog for the Bucks. Yeah... don't know this one, either.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Just the best TrueHoop blog, hands down. Tim Varner and Graydon Gordian are a gift to Spurs fans, and we're lucky to have them.
Project Spurs: Lots of good folks in here. Visit, read, comment, come back. And don't miss their podcast, either.

The (sort of) Daily Twitter

George_Hill3

Thank God everyone made it to Milwaukee safe. Now let's get back on the right track tomorrow. Hope everyone had a great Christmas. Luv Spurs

manuginobili

News of the Day: The twins are boys!! Gotta start thinking names. Merry Xmas to all of you! http://bit.ly/8PG531

MoneyMase

Had a GREAT time playing Santa Mase Clause today...

DeJuan45

This is 4 my fans and loved ones who made Me smile in 2009. It may surprise Me how many I get back. Thanks for making me smile in 2009.:)

You can also find all the official Spurs Sports & Entertainment Twitter accounts here: http://twitter.com/spurs/official/members

Other things of possible interest

Some random links, in case you're bored:

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be aired by the Fox Sports Network. If you have cable or satellite, you'll have to look up your individual channel (Fox Sports Southwest or Fox Sports Wisconsin). And of course, there's always League Pass.

Online

As always, NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area..

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

We'll have so much fun...

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