Game 29 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Blazers: 14-14

Bucks: 10-15

Game Details: Rose Garden, Portland, OR. 7:00 PM. TV: CSN. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM)

Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6′2″, Utah), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6′5″, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum(#88, 6′9″, France), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6′11″, Texas), C Dante Cunningham (#33, 6′8″, Villanova)

Projected Milwaukee Starting Lineup: PG Keyon Dooling (#55, 6’3″, Missouri), SG John Salmons (#15, 6’6″, Miami), SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (#12, 6’8″, UCLA), PF Larry Sanders (#8, 6’11”, Virginia Commonwealth), C Andrew Bogut (#6, 7’0″, Utah)

Coming off a hard-fought win over the Warriors that was essentially a glorified D-League matchup, the Blazers will tonight face the Milwaukee Bucks. The Blazers will be nearly as shorthanded tonight as they were Monday–Nicolas Batum is back in the lineup after missing Saturday, but Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby, and Joel Przybilla are once again sidelined–and the Bucks pose far greater matchup problems for Portland than Golden State did, particularly in the middle. Milwaukee will, however, be without leading scorer Brandon Jennings after today’s announcement that the second-year point guard will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. In other words, tonight’s game will be another ugly, all-hands-on-deck matchup with plenty of Sean Marks action.

With Jennings out, the Bucks will rely on their secondary scorers–John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, and Corey Maggette–to carry the offensive load, and none of them have been able to put up consistent numbers this season. Each one has the potential to go off on any given night, so this game could come down to the defensive matchups. Having Batum back in the lineup will help majorly in this regard. Where the Bucks could really kill the Blazers tonight is inside. With Camby and Przybilla out, the job of guarding Andrew Bogut will fall into the hands of LaMarcus Aldridge (likely able to hold his own or at least not embarrass himself too badly), the undersized Dante Cunningham (dicey), and Sean Marks (kill me now).

Since Jennings, the Bucks’ most reliable offensive option, won’t be a factor tonight, the Blazers will likely run the majority of their offense through Andre Miller, who should have no problem getting to the basket against Keyon Dooling. This game will be another chance for Patty Mills to get some burn: he scored a career-high 12 points against the Warriors and the Blazers’ shorthandedness gives him an opportunity to build on that. Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and Wesley Matthews need to have their shots fall tonight. With Matthews, that’s been more or less a constant since he moved into the starting lineup, but you never know what you’re going to get from Batum and Fernandez. Rudy’s looked good lately, but Batum’s shoulder makes him a wild card. Given the Blazers’ thin roster, tonight’s game won’t be a “this game tells us something about their future”-type of contest, but rather just another W they’ll have to grind out to stay in the playoff picture.

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