Like the Wolves, the Milwaukee Bucks had started off the season hot, running up an early 6-2 record. Also like the Wolves, the bucks have swooned of late, losing 4 of their last 5.
With quality early wins over Boston, Indiana, and Chicago, the Bucks have looked like a playoff contender, also beating struggling teams like Washington, Cleveland, and New Orleans. Their one glaring, lowlight loss has been to Charlotte, who also beat the Wolves.
Bucks probable starting lineup:
PG Brandon Jennings
SG Monta Ellis
SF Tobias Harris
PF John Henson
C Samuel Dalembert
Last year’s breakout-Buck, Ersan Ilyasova, signed a fat contract and has failed to live it down so far this season, averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds on 35% shooting. Despite the squad’s quality start to the season, he languished in the starting lineup until 2 games ago, when he was replaced by rookie John Henson.
Ilyasova responded to the benching with 18 points on 14 shots, to go with 6 boards. He followed that up by not scoring in 13 minutes against New York.
Coach Scott Skiles has been searching for a solution. The last 3 games he’s given Dalembert, (Monticello native) Joel Przybilla, Henson, and Harris a shot in the starting front court.
3rd year center Larry Sanders has had two double-doubles on the year, is averaging 2 blocks a contest and 54% from the field. The most productive big on the Bucks roster has yet to make a start, but is averaging 22 minutes a game.
As surprising a disappointment as Ilyasova has been so far, Brandon Jennings has been the opposite. Averaging a career best 7 assists per game to go with his league-leading 2.9 steals, Jennings came out the gate smoking, though he has shown signs of regressing to his career averages over his last 5 (15/5/40%).
Backcourt mate, Monta Ellis has also struggled over the Bucks last 5, averaging 17 points, 4 assists and 42% field goal shooting (13% from 3).
Wolves probable starting lineup:
PG Luke Ridnour
SG Malcolm Lee
SF Josh Howard
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
The balky back of Andrei Kirilenko made the loss to the Clippers tough to stomach. Absent their 3 best perimeter players, the Wolves played the Clips to a crunch-time standstill behind the timely 3-point shooting of rookie Alexey Shved and the one man free throw parade that was Kevin Love.
Like a broken record — all together now: The Wolves should have a huge advantage inside and a monumental mismatch in the backcourt. Any delineation from this pattern should be a noted advantage in favor of the winner.
Ladies and Gentlemen: the Minnesota Timberwolves, where backcourt slumps go to die.