Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Preview: Nets Hope to Right Ship Before Knicks Game


Deron Williams and Ersan Ilyasova

The Brooklyn Nets (11-7) will attempt to snap their season high 3-game losing streak tonight at home against the Milwaukee Bucks (9-9). The Nets have not won since two Wednesdays ago when they defeated the Boston Celtics on the road. Since then, they lost to the Heat, Thunder, and Warriors on Friday. The Bucks are coming off of a 15-point home win over Charlotte on Friday, but had lost their two previous games before that, including a 21-point blowout to the Anthony Davis-less Hornets.

History is not on the Nets’ side in this game. They haven’t beaten Milwaukee since March of 2009, losing 11-straight games to the Bucks. In fact, the Nets haven’t even had a close game against Milwaukee in those 11 games. The Bucks won each of the games by 6 or more points, including three wins last season. However, these are the brand new Brooklyn Nets so hopefully they will reverse this trend.

Milwaukee has been a disappointing team this season. They have had some good wins, but they haven’t been consistent at all. This is a pretty talented team with arguably the best backcourt (the Nets would beg to differ) and they have lots of depth with their forwards. This team should be better than 9-9.

This is a must-win game for the Nets. Since Brook Lopez’s injury, the team is 1-3 with the only win coming against a terrible Orlando team. Even though Lopez has been great this year, he is one player and the Nets need to show that they can play without him. This is also the Nets’ last game before they play their hated rival, the Manhattan Knicks, who also happen to be sitting in first place in the eastern conference despite losing to Chicago last night.

Injuries: Brook Lopez will miss his 5th straight game tonight. The Nets have said that it is not likely he will play on Tuesday vs. Manhattan or Wednesday at Toronto either. This injury has went on much longer than Nets fans expected or hoped. For Milwaukee, Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih are both inactive.

Key matchups:

Deron Williams vs. Brandon Jennings. Advantage: Williams

I can see Brandon Jennings having a great game tonight. He often plays his best on big stages, and he will be playing on one tonight. He is averaging 17 ppg and 6 apg this season, with the assists being a career high. I can see him scoring 25 points tonight. However, his defense is not very good and I think D-Will will play well, too.

Joe Johnson vs. Monta Ellis. Advantage: Johnson

Both of these players have been disappointing this year. Ellis is averaging his fewest ppg since 2008 and this is his first full season in Milwaukee since being traded to the Bucks from Golden State in the middle of last season. The Bucks thought this pairing would make one of the NBA’s best backcourts, but Ellis’s defense is just not very good at all. Joe Johnson had his best offensive game of the season by far on Friday against the Warriors when he scored 32 points. I expect him to have another good game against the undersized Ellis.

Gerald Wallace vs. Marquis Daniels. Advantage: Wallace

Daniels had his best game of the season on Friday against Charlotte, scoring 18 points. He has only been starting the last 4 games for this team since Mike Dunleavy’s injury. He is a solid defender, but Wallace should still get plenty of open 3’s. The question will be if he can make them. I don’t expect either of these players to have a big impact on the game.

Kris Humphries vs. Larry Sanders. Advantage: Sanders

Larry Sanders has been one of the surprises of the NBA season. In his third season, he is averaging career highs in points and rebounds with 8 ppg and 8 rpg. However, the big surprise is his defensive production. He is among the league leaders in blocks with 3 per game, and has often blocked more than 3 shots in recent games. He is big at 6’11 and has a knack for getting his hand on the ball. Kris Humphries has been invisible recently. Additionally, the Bucks’ backup power forward is Ersan Ilyasova, a guy who gave the Nets fits last year. Although he has been disappointing so far this season, he burned Kris Humphries for 29 points and 25 rebounds in a win last season. We will see tonight if The Hump learned anything from that game.

Andray Blatche vs. Ekpe Udoh. Advantage: Blatche

Although the Bucks don’t have any great centers, they have a lot of good ones. Udoh, Samuel Dalembert, Joel Przybilla, and rookie John Henson should all receive playing time. None of these names pop out, but none of them are push overs. The Bucks have an extremely deep team at the power forward and center positions, while the Nets will really only have Humphries, Evans, and Blatche tonight because Lopez is injured. It will be interesting if the Bucks make lots of substitutions to bring fresh legs onto the court in an attempt to tire out the Nets’ bigs. Andray Blatche has been excellent since moving into the starting rotation and had 22 points and 15 rebounds on Friday. The problem is that the bench is really lacking without him. Let’s see if the Bench Mob picks it up tonight.

Prediction: Bucks 101, Nets 90. 

I really don’t like the history here, the player matchups in general, and the way the Nets are playing right now. All those things add up to a loss tonight, extending the Nets’ losing streak to 4 heading into their ESPN showdown with the Manhattan Knicks on Tuesday. The Nets need to figure out their defense and play like they were earlier in the season against the Clippers, Celtics, and Knicks. And they need Brook Lopez back ASAP.