Say what you will about the Milwaukee Bucks‘ backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but the pair of guards have been red-hot against the Brooklyn Nets in their two previous matchups this season.
The Bucks disposed of the Nets 97-88 in Brooklyn on Dec. 9, and then again 108-93 in Milwaukee on Dec. 26. As they gear up for a home-and-home with Brooklyn over the next two nights, the Bucks will be attempting to make it a clean sweep over the Nets, winning all four matchups in 2013.
Jennings was the Bucks’ leading scorer in each of the first two wins, but Ellis was every bit a key contributor as the point guard. Ellis dominated the post-Christmas matchup, scoring 20 points while racking up seven assists, six rebounds and a whopping six steals. Jennings and Ellis have torn the Nets apart this year and Ersan Ilyasova has done his share of damage as well.
Another potential bonus is that we might see center Larry Sanders make his return to the court tonight after a bruised back has sidelined the 6’11″ big man over the past four games. His presence would go a long way in ensuring that Nets’ center Brook Lopez doesn’t have his way in the paint. Lopez is enjoying another fine season, averaging 19 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Milwaukee has an opportunity to shake up the playoff race in the Eastern Conference should they win both games against Brooklyn. The Nets are currently in fourth place, although just four games ahead of the Bucks. As you can see, there isn’t much of a gap separating fourth place from eighth (where the 26-25 Bucks currently sit), so if Milwaukee plans on improving its playoff positioning, now is the most opportune time to do so.
The Bucks dropped four of their last five games heading into the break, so a back-to-back with the Nets, a team they’re obviously confident playing against, is undoubtedly a welcome sight. Brooklyn is fifth in the NBA in points allowed per game, but they just can’t seem to solve this Milwaukee squad and its shoot-first, ask questions later-style backcourt.
Here’s to more of the same over the next two nights.