Gameday: Raptors vs Bucks – Mar. 30/11

Toronto Raptors Milwaukee Bucks March 30, 2011

Raise your hands if you had a big ear-to-ear grin on your face after reading the rumours that Colangelo would be open to trading Bargnani if re-signed. Even though the article was pure BS, and the Knicks clearly need someone to spread the floor like Galinari did, it was great to see that written in a traditional media site since all us bloggers have been screaming for this for about 3 years now.

Still, there is no one on the Knicks that I’d want that they would be willing to trade, plus I don’t want Bargnani going to a division rival; call me old fashion but if he does turn the corner and fills out his all-around game, I really don’t want to play against him four times a year.

Had a chat with Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksetball:

You recently wrote about Salmons’ struggles this season after getting a massive contract for carrying the team in the second half of last season. For those who haven’t read the article, whats been the contributing factor to the massive regression, and is there hope of salvaging him going forward?
What I focused on in that piece was Salmons’ struggles late in games. Last season the Bucks could turn to Salmons when their offense broke down late in games and he would bail them out. This season, Salmons has just been part of the problem. He wasn’t overwhelmingly athletic last season and he seems to have lost a step this season, possibly due to an early season knee injury. Maybe he’s just having a bad year, one in which his shots just won’t fall. If he can hit the shots he was hitting last season once again, he can be salvaged. But he’s never going to get to the hoop and finish with ease or consistently. That’s not ideal for a leading scorer type.

Injuries have clearly ravaged this team, and so far have seemingly cost them a playoff birth this season. How difficult is it building with Bogut as a (the?) core piece when he hasn’t played more than 70 games in the last 4 seasons? Is it time to move him and bring in someone who is a bit more solid? (His migraines have been killing my fantasy team this year; sorry, had to bitch)
It has been frustrating, but it’s hard to blame the guy too much. The injuries have seemed flukey enough that every year there’s some hope that they won’t be a problem going forward. Obviously last season’s fall and elbow injury carried over more than most expected this season, but he’ll likely be feeling better by next season. Given the injuries everyone else on this team had this season, it’s hard to spend too much time bemoaning Bogut’s. He’s so good defensively though and means so much to the team in that regard that it’s hard to envision moving him and getting equal value, especially since his offense is so inconsistent.

After Redd comes off the books this year, almost half the team’s payroll will be locked up between Maggette, Salmons and Gooden (all of whom will be tough to move). What moves do the Bucks have to improve this lot in the summer?
There won’t be a lot of money available, but bet that Milwaukee will be listening to offers regarding Maggette. Maybe once everyone can get healthy and the team gets more time to gel, he’ll find his place and get consistent minutes, but Coach Scott Skiles hasn’t trusted him a bit down the stretch. Maggette has eight DNP-CDs this month. Milwaukee needs an athletic scorer that can shoot and pass the ball. But what team doesn’t want that?

How much does Redd really have left in the tank? Could we hope to see a Grant Hill like rebirth in a different situation, or is he done?
The difference between Redd and Hill is pretty significant. Hill always was great in terms of awareness and passing the ball, whereas Redd’s always been a volume scorer. Perhaps Redd can still score a bit off a team’s bench, but he isn’t the shooter he once was. We’d need to see a pretty significant transformation in Redd’s game for him to stick around much longer, but he hasn’t put in all the work he’s put in for no reason. He’s going to give it a go and he’ll be on a roster next season. That will be his chance to prove he can contribute.

Can you talk about Brandon Jennings’ development this season?
It’s been difficult, since he missed a large portion of the season with a broken foot. Then it took him a good 10 games or so after returning to get his feel back it seemed. But he’s been better this month, shooting better than 40% for a month for the first time since his first month in the NBA. If he ever can get it together and start to hit around 43 or 44 percent of his shots consistently, he’ll be perfect for Milwaukee. He’s not there yet, but he has improved a bit this year.

I was never a Scott Skiles fan, as a player or a coach, so this might come off as a stupid question; but what’s your assessment of him, and how much longer does he have behind the bench in Milwaukee?
Skiles makes a pretty good chunk of change and earned an extension based on his work the last two years. Coaching in a small market for a team that’s bleeding money is going to work to his advantage. This season will probably get thrown out due to the injuries, so don’t expect anything crazy to happen any time soon. He’s safe. Especially since this team is still top five in defensive efficiency, despite all the offensive mishaps. He’s kept this team together, which is commendable given their problems making shots.

Injury Report

Linas Kleiza – Out
Amir Johnson – the guy is hurting, let the man rest
Andrea Bargnani – day to day
Jose Calderon – day to day
Reggie Evans – day to day
Leandro Barbosa – day to day

Ersan Ilyasova – day to day
Michael Redd – day to day

Not much time this morning, so I wont go into the individual players, just talk about a couple key match-ups:

Bargnani vs Bogut
After we did our fantasy team draft, I was really short on size and had zero shot blocking. I tried to pry away Bogut from one of the guys in the league, and he started asking about Chris Paul from my side. The trade grew into me sending Chris Paul and Wilson Chandler to him for Andrew Bogut and Blake Griffin. I clearly won that trade looking back at it, but no one thought Griffin would be a fantasy beast like he is. Anyways, if not for Bogut’s poor shooting form the field/line, he has been a great pick-up. The guy can be counted on for points in the paint, rebounds and bock shots, every single game. Very much a steadying force, and if he didn’t have so many injury issues, I would have no issues of him as a core piece. Against the Bobcats a couple nights ago, he did 26pts 9rebs 2blk; I’m expecting the same from tonight. Bargnani has a chance to light it up a bit since Bogut can’t cover him on the perimeter, and Gooden/Sanders/Mbah a Moute can’t cover him in the paint. i’d like to see Andrea take some defensive queue’s from Bogut, especially his defensive positioning.

Bargnani could be injured, and is listed as day-to-day, so if he doesn’t go, expect lots of switch-ups and zone to try to contain Bogut…not that it will do anything…

DeRozan vs Salmons
It’s feast or famine with Salmons who’s either hitting his stride offensively or building a brick house. The Bucks are a great defensive team, bout the only thing Skiles has done right – hate that mother ______, so getting to the rim will be tough for DeRozan (and everyone else) on a consistent basis. Fast breaks will be few and far between, and the defensive rotations will be on the ball. A key for DeMar will be drawing contact, and getting to the line 8+ times tonight. Have to challenge Bogut in the paint, and get him into foul trouble, it’s the only way.

Much like the Heat game where the Raptors welcomed Mike Miller by handing him the best game of the season, the same could be said of the Bucks. Redd has been out for the last 5 years, and can use the Raptors lax defense to get into a mini-groove. I don’t think that he will, but Salmons will definitely feast on us a bit.

The Line

There’s no line on the game (at time of publishing), but consider a few things:

  • Raptors are home after losing their last four games on the road, most of them badly
  • Raptors are 3-7 in their last 10 games (1-4 over their last 5)
  • Milwaukee is 4-6 in their last 10, having lost 2 in a row
  • Milwaukee is 3 games out of 8th with 9 games to go
  • The Bucks have owned the Raptors in both games they have played this year

If the Raptors weren’t such a question mark in the injury department, this would be a competitive game. The Bucks want to get into the playoffs, and if they did, who do you think the Bulls would rather play: them or the Pacers? Even though this season has hit the wall (a long time ago), they can still affect other teams playoff positioning; and I have to believe that there is still some iota of pride left in this lot.

Let me leave you with this question: would you trade Andrea Bargnani for Andrew Bogut straight up? If Bargs wasn’t a BYC player this year it would work in trade machine.

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