Game On: Bucks @ Hornets

Published: December 3, 2012

Tonight’s second and final meeting of the season between Milwaukee and New Orleans features a stark contrast in styles, as the Bucks trail only the Rockets in pace (96.9 possessions/game), while only the Nets play slower than the Hornets (91.0 possessions/game). As a result, this game gives us a good reason to look at the benefits of using pace-adjusted metrics to gauge team offense and defense as opposed to simply points for and points against per game.

The Bucks come into tonight’s contest averaging 97.0 point per game, which ranks 16th in the NBA. This average is well ahead of the 26th-ranked Hornets at 92.8 points per game. However, change that metric to points scored per 100 possessions, and Milwaukee falls all the way to 23rd in the NBA with an average of 98.7, a decent amount lower than the Hornets’ offensive rating of 101.0, good for 16th in the NBA. On the flip side, while the Hornets are only allowing 98.2 points per game (21st in the NBA), their defensive rating of 107.5 is dead last in the league, and far worse than the Bucks’ 16th-ranked 100.7 points allowed per 100 possessions.

Before these two teams’ first match-up on November 17th, Michael McNamara’s keys to the game for the Hornets were handling Milwaukee’s on-ball pressure, forcing anyone but Dunleavy to shoot 3-pointers, and fighting for rebounds. The Hornets’ guards were able to do an okay job of taking care of the ball, but the Bucks’ 13-25 barrage from long range (led by Dunleavy’s 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc) and a Milwaukee offensive rebound rate of 36.3% spelled doom for New Orleans.

With about two weeks of additional data from both teams at our disposal, let’s re-examine what it is that the Hornets will have to do to come out of tonight’s game victorious.


Three Keys to the Game

1) Take care of the ball, no matter what position you play. McNamara noted before the Hornets at Bucks game two weeks ago that the New Orleans guards had to make sure that they didn’t cough the ball up against Milwaukee’s steal-chasing guards, and he is exactly right. However, what really ended up hurting them was Davis, Aminu, and Anderson combining for 11 turnovers. Taking care of the ball goes a long way in preventing transition points, which is one of the driving forces behind the Bucks’ high pace; their average of 19.9 points off of turnovers per game is 4th in the NBA.

2) Work hard on the defensive glass. Based on season averages, the Bucks’ performance on the offensive glass against the Hornets last time around was a total aberration; Milwaukee ranks 22nd in the NBA in offensive rebound rate, but their 36.3% ORR in that game (16 offensive rebounds out of 44 chances) alone would lead the entire league if sustained over the course of the season (Denver currently leads the league at 34.3%). As long as the Hornets give maximum in this area, I find it hard to believe that the Bucks will have that kind of success again tonight.

3) Remain disciplined on defense. Despite their fast pace, the Bucks draw the 4th fewest fouls per game, averaging just 18.6 per contest. In the two teams’ first match-up, the Hornets committed 26 fouls, nearly three more than the Clippers’ league leading 23.2 personal fouls per game. To an extent, this result can be tied to the second key, as fouls are often the end product of put-back attempts after offensive rebounds. Either way, however, the Hornets can’t be as foul-prone in tonight’s game as they were a couple of weeks ago and expect to win this game.


Leave your thoughts on tonight’s game below, and be sure to check back closer to tip-off for more game day media provided by Joe Gerrity and Andrew Smith.


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