The Milwaukee Bucks (2-0) will look to start a season 3-0 for the first time in seven years. In order to do that they must get past the Memphis Grizzlies (2-1), who currently have four players averaging at least 14.7 points per game. The Bucks must execute on offense and defense if they want to defeat the Grizzlies Wednesday night.
Milwaukee is playing top notch team basketball as they rank first in the NBA in assists per game (29). Point guard Brandon Jennings’ 13.0 assists per game certainly help but everyone appears to be sharing the ball. This is exactly what head coach Scott Skiles wants from his team, especially since Milwaukee has several talented playmakers.
Skiles also wants to see his team play aggressive, hard-nosed defense. Milwaukee is 10th in the league in points allowed as they have held their opponents to an average of 95.0 in two games. The team also ranks fifth in the NBA in steals per game (10). This is another category Jennings has been effective as he has an average of 4.0 per game. However, they must hold on to the ball, as Memphis is even better as a team when it comes to steals.
The Bucks will defeat their opponents with consistent play that involves using speed on offense and solid hustle on defense. Milwaukee must get up and down the court at a brisk pace and use the team’s athleticism to their advantage. Also, it is very important that the starting five keep the game in range so the second squad can finish the job.
The Grizzlies will be a very difficult team to defend as they have solid rebounders, as well as players that can score from a distance. The Bucks will have to play big in the middle, something they have struggled with for the most part in both games this season. Milwaukee is a very good blocking team but they seem to have trouble limiting points in the paint.
On defense, the Bucks must shut down Marc Gasol, who is averaging 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in three games this season. They also must watch out for Rudy Gay who is certainly capable of taking over games. The small forward is averaging 19.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.00 steals per game.
On offense, it is critical that shooting guard Monta Ellis gets penetration in the paint in order to either finish if the shot is open or dish it out to one of Milwaukee’s sharpshooters. Mike Dunleavy has been sensational off the bench so far this season as he is averaging 18.0 points per game while shooting 70.6 percent from the field and 87.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The Bucks certainly have the weapons to pull off the victory as long as they follow through with Skiles’ game plan. Memphis will put up a decent fight but Milwaukee should be able to ride off of the energy from the home crowd to come away with the win. I predict the Bucks will defeat the Grizzlies 100-97.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.