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Time to Get us a Rack (No, not that kind of rack. Sheesh!)

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Published: January 21, 2008

Game Preview!

Matchup: Bucks(16-24) @ Hornets(27-12)
Off Efficiency: Bucks 100.8(19th), Hornets 105.9(10th)
Def Efficiency: Bucks 107.0(27th), Hornets 99.8(3rd)
Relevant Blogger: Brewhoop, The Bratwurst

It's a Monday Matinee this time, with the Bucks galloping into New Orleans for a game starting at 2:30 CST.  This is yet more game on this cake-walk homestand that the Hornets should handle fairly easily, because the Bucks are a team still trying to figure itself out.  Like all games against doormats, the biggest danger is the Hornets coming in flat and not playing hard.

As for the Bucks, this is the second year in a row that there has been much optimism in Milwaukee about the team, but again they are failing to reach those expectations.  And this year, though they've had some injuries, they aren't anywhere near as bad as  they were last year.  It seems, at least to me, that most articles about the Bucks focus on their offensive problems, blaming Charlie Bell, Simmons, or Villaneuva for their bad shooting, hyping up Bogut for his recent scoring numbers and claiming he's the solution, or even insinuating that Redd should be getting the ball more again.  That's all well and good, but until their players play some defense, this team is going nowhere.  The French in World War II put up more resistance than this Bucks squad most nights.

Good Ol' Desmond Mason will not be playing tonight, having had surgery in December, and Bobby Simmons is day to day with a bad neck.  It kept him out of last game, and I'll assume he'll be out this game too.  New Orleans has not submitted anyone on an injury list, so it looks like Adam Haluska(ankle) and Bobby Jackson(hamstring) will be available.  Look out Chris Paul, Adam's comin' for you.

Positional Analysis
PG:
Royal Ivey vs. Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Ivey started the last game when Bobby Simmons was unable to go for the Bucks.  He's a relative unknown, but he did make news a couple years ago for being the worst starter on any team that year.  Playing for lottery-bound Atlanta, he averaged about 14 minutes a game, despite starting.  Yeah, it never made sense to me either.  Ivey is an energy guy who gets by on hustle, speed and defense.  He's a poor shooter, not much of a passer and fairly turnover prone.  He may bother Paul a little, but won't be able to slow him enough to matter.

SG: Mo Williams vs. Morris Peterson
Advantage: Bucks
Mo Williams is the normal starting point guard for the Bucks, and produces some fairly good numbers.  He shoots well, and is a solid drive-and-kick guy.  That said, I almost gave Morris Peterson an even chance against him because Williams is selfish and a terrible defender.  I remember the Hornets playing last year and Williams would barely even try on defense, he just wanted the ball back as quick as possible so he could shoot again.  Peterson plays defense hard, and shoots when he needs to.  He's an exceptional team player, and that's worth a lot.  In the end, I gave the edge to Williams, because he is capable of breaking open a game offensively.

SF: Michael Redd vs. Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Even
Michael Redd is really a shooting guard, and doesn't do anything but shoot, making him a liability as a small forward.  He is their star – but his shooting is down this year, and his rebounding and assists numbers are pathetic.  Peja could easily match or surpass his numbers if he was featured by the Hornets as much as Redd is by the Bucks.  Sad but true.

PF: Yi Jianlin vs. The Fluffecutor
Advantage: Hornets
Chinese Rookie Yi(pronounced "E") is an athletic,  jumpshooting forward.  Though he's just a rookie, his shooting numbers are already pretty solid, and he's not a bad perimeter defender.  On the bad side, he's a poor rebounder and post defender for a seven footer. He may be miscast as a power forward, and I think this team would be better served to play him as a small forward.  David West will overpower him on the inside, and if met on the outside, will put his shoulder into him and force him low.

C: Andrew Bogut vs. Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
The Bucks have a new focus for their offense, pushing it through Bogut in the post, where he has been hitting at a good clip and averaging 20 points a game over the past few weeks.  Still, Tyson has slowed Yao Ming and Chris Kaman already this year, and I doubt Bogut will be much worse.  Tyson will also outquick, outrebound, and outrun him, and we'll see at least two more of those CP3 to Tyson lobs this game.

Bench
Advantage: Even
This is a tough call – because I still don't trust the sudden Hornets bench resurgence.  That said, the Bucks are suffering from the same sort of inconsistency from the bench that the Hornets are.  Villanueva and Charlie Bell are shooting poorly, and Gadzuric is similar to Armstrong.  If Mason was healthy, he'd be nice for them, and having Ivey off the bench is much better than having him starting.  Still, the Hornets may win this battle too.

Hornets win 107-94.

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