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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

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The Spurs are looking for a bounce-back win following their loss in Chicago, while the Bucks are simply looking for a starting lineup that works.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
December 2, 2015, 7:30 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: FSSW Radio: 1200 AM WOAI

Milwaukee was a fun story last year: a young, athletic team that bet on multi-positional length and the experience of a savvy former player and, in many ways, won. The Bucks finished the year as a 6 seed and I was particularly impressed by their regular season matchups against the Cavaliers. Their defense, top five in Def Rtg by the end of the year, was likened to a latticework of limbs that confounded opponents on a nightly basis.

In theory, the 2015-16 version of the Bucks represented a chance to improve upon their 41-41 record and further ascend the Eastern Conference ladder. They locked up Khris Middleton, signed Pistons center Greg Monroe, and promised to feature Giannis Antetokounmpo at all five positions throughout the year.

The problem: Two of the pieces Milwaukee parted with in the process of landing Monroe, Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia, formed part of their most successful lineups last year. Another was Brandon Knight, who they sent to Phoenix in February when they thought he wasn't their point guard of the future. At the time of that trade they were six games above .500, and they haven't been a winning team since.

Things remain fluid in Milwaukee. A three-game losing streak led to Jason Kidd shaking things up with his starting lineup. Against Denver on Monday he benched Michael Carter-Williams, Knight's replacement, and recovering second-year player Jabari Parker in favor of Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo. Bayless and Mayo are both stop-gap pieces that don't likely form part of this team's future, but their skills don't overlap on the court quite like Carter-Williams, who likely has no business playing big minutes on any team if he can't hit an open jumpshot. Still, the fact that they're being inserted into the starting five doesn't bode well for them in the long term.

Tonight should be a slow, plodding affair. The Spurs and Bucks are both bottom-five teams in terms of possessions per game, and that style of play should ultimately benefit the more efficient San Antonio. Milwaukee's half-court game will test San Antonio in the low post, and the Bucks' ball-handlers will make clever skip passes to anticipate defensive rotations. Still, if they don't result in hitting on their outside looks, it could be a long night for them.

The Greek Freak starting at the four will force Aldridge to guard on the perimeter more than he and Pop might like, but it should also be a mismatch for LMA at the other end (he also did a fine job against Nikola Mirotic on Monday night). Giannis' length hasn't resulted in poorer shooting by guys he's defended, and I'd think Aldridge would be able to outmuscle him for position as long as Jason Kidd allows.

And then there's Kawhi Leonard, who continues to impress. Even in the loss to Chicago, in which Kawhi was by far the best player on the court, it's hard as a Spurs fan to be too upset watching Leonard dominate in almost every facet of the game. It would be interesting to see him matched up with Giannis, but I'd expect him to produce regardless.

Matchup to watch: Tim Duncan vs. Moose -- if only to be able to mention Monroe's nickname which, for whatever reason, is one of my current favorites in the league. Fans of footwork and positioning should get a few decent Vines out of tonight.

San Antonio Spurs (14-4)

Milwaukee Bucks (7-11)

December 2, 2015

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:30 PM CST

TV: FSSW

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Jerryd Bayless

Danny Green

SG

O.J. Mayo

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Khris Middleton

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Tim Duncan

C

Greg Monroe


Game prediction: Spurs by 12.

For the Bucks fans' perspective, visit Brew Hoop.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.