03/24/10 6:37 pm EST
This mid-week edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent the Milwaukee Bucks.
We’re going to keep this one brief as we are focused on the NBA Lottery in June and not what’s happening on the court with the 76ers. Philadunkia’s home team will be hard pressed to win this game tonight and here’s why: Milwaukee is one of the hottest teams in the NBA having won three straight and 9 of their last 10; the Sixers play horrific defense and thus will not be able to stop any of the Bucks big scorers — Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut or John Salmons; Thad and Louis stayed home on this trip; and in general the Sixers stopped caring a while ago.
For a little more insight into the Bucks team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Jeremy Schmidt from bucksketball.com to answer two questions on Milwaukee from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Bucks squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : Obviously thee Bucks have gotten it turned around this season and are now in a position to make the playoffs. What have been one or two of the keys to getting this season and the franchise in general righted?
Jeremy Schmidt @ bucksketball.com : They keys? John and Salmons. It’s funny that you say key, because Salmons has fit the Bucks like a key in a lock. But more on him in a minute. Milwaukee was an above average defensive team and below average offensive team before Salmons arrived. His arrival made them a great defensive team (possibly best in the league) and an average offensive team (with the upside of above average if they are hitting their threes). Milwaukee now has a borderline all-star at center in Andrew Bogut, a Jekyll and Hyde point guard that occasionally looks like a star in Brandon Jennings and a shooting guard in the perfect system for his skills in Salmons. The upside of those three every night is as high as nearly any triumphant in the league and the whole team, including those three, are committed to playing suffocating defense.
It’s not easy to get everyone to commit to that, but Scott Skiles has and it shows night in and night out.
Philadunkia : We thought and still the deal for John Salmons was the most underrated move of this year’s trade deadline. Talk about the addition of Salmons and what he has meant to / done for the Bucks so far?
Jeremy Schmidt @ bucksketball.com : Everything they lacked before his arrival, he had. Milwaukee was too small on the wings before he arrived, often playing Luke Ridnour at the two and starting the 6’3 Charlie Bell. Opposing shooting guards were having field days and the Bucks couldn’t get to the rim. Now? Salmons is guarding the biggest and best perimeter players, while getting to the free throw line nearly six times a night. Rarely do you see a player fit a system as well as Salmons does Milwaukee.
Two Points of Analysisfrom Jeremy Schmidt @ bucksketball.com :
1. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova may not be household names and may be undersized, but they’re a quietly effective power forward duo. Between the two of them, they give Milwaukee all the scoring Hakim Warrick did, plus loads more defense and rebounding. At some point tonight I can guarantee two things: there will be a rebound that Ilyasova will keep alive and either grab or tap out to a teammate and Mbah a Moute will stifle a 76ers player defensively.
2. You may have heard that Brandon Jennings was no longer good, but I assure you that’s not the case. Jennings has had his struggles, but he’s up around 40% shooting for the month of March and has hit nearly half his threes. He can be dangerous and carry the squad for quarters, but he doesn’t try and stay hot for a whole game. If he gets hot, he goes to work and then uses the attention to set up teammates — just like a point guard should.