To say that things look pretty bleak for the Milwaukee Bucks as they head into the first round of the NBA Playoffs would be a vast understatement. They enter the postseason as the only team out of 16 that has a losing record. They also come into the playoffs winning just three of their last 10 games. They also are up against the team with the best record in the entire league, the Miami Heat.
There are so many things that the Bucks have to worry about when it comes to the Heat. They have to worry about ball-security, playing efficiently on offense, tightening up their defense, and many other things. Obviously, Milwaukee also has to deal with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. James is undoubtedly their biggest worry as he’s the best player in the NBA. This means that Luc Mbah a Moute’s defense on James will be an important factor in this series.
There’s no question that James and Mbah a Moute are in completely different classes of players. James submitted what is likely to be another MVP season while Mbah a Moute averaged just 22.9 minutes per game and just 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game on 40.1 percent shooting this season. However, Mbah a Moute has had relative success against James this season and in the past.
Over the past two seasons, the Bucks have performed slightly better defensively against James when Mbah a Moute is on the floor. Mbah a Moute has the physical skills and defensive IQ to guard James in half-court sets, which will be big in the series. The keys are whether Larry Sanders can be there to help on the weak-side and whether the Bucks can limit the Heat’s transition opportunities, where Mbah a Moute can’t contain James.
At this point in LeBron’s career, there’s no one that’s going to be able to shut him down. However, Mbah a Moute is quick and physical enough to force him into weak-side help a fair amount of the time. If that help is there, it will help limit James. If the Heat get out running on fast breaks with James, though, Mbah a Moute doesn’t stand a chance.