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Clippers-Bucks preview: Spear the Deer

The Clippers come into this Saturday night's game looking for a little revenge. It's hunting season.

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season

December 20th, 2014, 7:30 PM
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
8-3 East 8-8
10-5 West 6-5
10-3 Home 7-4
8-5 Road 7-9
3-6 .500+ 2-9
15-2 .500- 12-4
7-3 L10 4-6
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Brandon Knight
J.J. Redick SG O.J. Mayo
Matt Barnes SF Giannis Antetokounmpo
Blake Griffin PF Johnny O'Bryant III
DeAndre Jordan C Larry Sanders
Advanced Stats
96.1 (12th of 30) Pace 96.4 (9th of 30)
110.5 (3rd of 30) ORtg 102.0 (20th of 30)
103.2 (15th of 30) DRtg 102.5 (10th of 30)
Spencer Hawes (knee) doubtful
Jabari Parker (ACL) out

Ersan Ilyasova (nasal fracture) out

Damien Inglis (ankle) out

John Henson (foot) questionable

The Back Story (The Clippers trail the season series with the Bucks, 0-1):

Date Venue Final Recap Box
12/13/14 Milwaukee Bucks 111, Clippers 106 Recap Box

The Big Picture:

The Buck stops here. Exactly one week ago, the Clippers dropped one they shouldn't have, losing 111-106 in Milwaukee. To be fair, it was the second night of a back-to-back, on the road no less, but Chris Paul had six turnovers and, in what has been a common theme this past week, the bench reversed the starting lineup's forward progress. Since then, the Clippers have blown out a tanking Pistons team, eked by an undermanned Pacers team, and lost to a feisty Nuggets team. Tonight, the Clippers will again face Milwaukee's youthful exuberance on tired legs, having run with the Nuggets in the thin air in Denver last night. Many of us have complained that the Clippers have yet to grab a banner win against an elite squad, and that the team has merely been winning the games it should. Tonight, that would be just fine.

The Antagonist:

Sorry, Jabari. Milwaukee's young star, the 2nd overall pick in this past June's draft, tore his ACL on Monday night, ending a rookie season that was mostly living up to high expectations. The Bucks, who enter tonight's contest 20th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, will miss the young forward's advanced scoring ability. With veteran PF Ersan Ilyasova out with a broken nose, new head coach Jason Kidd has tried two different (emphasis on different) starters since, veteran and old Clipper compadre Jared Dudley, and rookie Johnny O'Bryant III. Third-year forward Khris Middleton has also seen increased minutes, and his offensive prowess makes him perhaps Parker's best replacement in the rotation, as well as a solid fantasy pickup (hint, hint).

Either way they choose to go, the team will have to rely on its 10th-ranked defense to carry it. Just like their animal namesake, these Bucks are all limbs. They use their length to great effect, forcing turnovers at the league's 2nd highest rate.

Losing Parker will make it difficult for Milwaukee to maintain its winning ways, but this young squad appears to be ahead of schedule, especially promising wing Giannis Antetokounmpo. On paper, this is a game the Clippers should win, but the Bucks are too young to know it.

The Subplots:

  • A comparison of key metrics. Perhaps the biggest difference between these two teams is at point guard. Brandon Knight's 18.6 PER is a career high, and Antetokounmpo is a lot better a lot sooner than he was supposed to be, but, Milwaukee is missing a surehanded floor general like Chris Paul -- although, how many teams have someone as polished as CP3 -- and it shows in their assist-to-turnover ratio. The Bucks are 25th, miles behind the 2nd-ranked Clippers.
  • The schedule. There's no letting up now. The Clippers play back-to-back road games in San Antonio and Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday. Then, on Christmas night, the Warriors are coming to town. Fasten your seatbelt.
  • Another back-to-back. Last Saturday in Milwaukee, the Clippers lost the second game of a back-to-back for the first time this season, falling to 5-1 in such games. Tonight, they'll try and make it 6-1.
  • Looking for a new home. It was reported this week that the Bucks were focusing on a new site for a potential arena. The franchise has until Fall 2017 to build a new arena as Seattle waits breathlessly for its chance to vulture the improving team. A new arena deal can't come quickly enough, as another recent report stated that the Bucks' current home, the BMO Harris Bradley Center, lost nearly $2 million in the last fiscal year, partly because of underwhelming crowds at Bucks games.
  • Unrelated to Clippers-Bucks. If you missed it, last night, Corey Brewer was traded to the Rockets. Take one potential trade target off the list.
  • Connections. Repeating some of the writeup from last week (thanks for making it easy on me, Jul!)... Jared Dudley, who disappointed in his one season with the Clippers last year, has regained his 3-point stroke because life isn't fair... Current Clipper marksman J.J. Redick played 28 games for Milwaukee before being traded to Los Angeles during the summer of 2013... Trojan watch: O.J. Mayo returns to the city in which he played his lone college season -- stay away from Chano's, O.J., or whatever they call it now... Current Bucks John Henson and Kendall Marshall each played two seasons at the University of North Carolina with Clippers SG Reggie Bullock. Marshall played for the Hated Ones last season... Antetokounmpo is one of just 12 Greeks to ever play in the NBA. Wikipedia counts former Clipper Marko Jaric among them, as he holds Greek citizenship from his playing days there. Don't forget about Clippers' 2nd round pick Sofoklis Schortsanitis, aka Greek Shaq, who only played in summer league... As always, let me know of any I missed.
  • Wikipedia. BUCK stands for Brony UK Con, a Manchester-based brony convention. Wait, you don't know what a brony is? It is a blended term, or portmanteau, from "bro" and "pony", given to male fans of the My Little Pony television show from the 80s and 90s. Oh please, do read on.