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Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks Preview: Bad Meets Average

There are no excuses tonight. The team has some nagging injuries, but the past two days off (with practice of course) gave the team time to heal, recoup, get prepared, and mentally get up for a game that is followed by five consecutive days off.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On the season the Phoenix Suns (13-27) have done a good job at home in the second match-up against a team that beat them on the road. The record is not flashy, but 3-5 is a much better mark than what they have done on the season as a whole.

Why does this matter?

With the Milwaukee Bucks (19-18) coming to town they have another opportunity to get some semblance of redemption on the season. Look for a close affair like the other eight games this season that have been in the same category as this one, which are on average tight, defensive struggles, where they hold opponents to 94 points per game.

Part of that is the theme of the team playing very good defense at home, or at the very least a slower team, but in the end they play better at home.

History Lesson

In the first match-up of the season the Bucks showed a gear that the Suns didn't have in the second half cruising to a win. Thanks to an array of Brandon Jennings three-point bombs the Bucks created separation in the third and pulled away in the fourth. The teams are very even across the board and typically play closely contested games.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons)

Suns: 104.5 PPG (seven wins)

Bucks: 98.3 PPG (two wins)

Ellis vs. Suns: 19.2 PPG 4.2 APG 43.3 FG% 32.2 3PT% (26 games)

Jennings vs. Suns: 30.4 PPG 5.0 APG 36.0 FG% 32.4 3PT% (7 games)

Dragic vs. Milwaukee: 8.2 PPG 2.8 APG 43.2 FG% 23.1 3PT% (6 games)

With that there are three things that are very evident. One, because of the familiarity of being a former divisional rival the Suns can hold Ellis in check to his career averages. Two, Jennings absolutely murders the Suns individually, but has only two wins to show for it in seven games.

Three, Dragic does not perform well against the up-tempo and explosive Bucks guards. Granted there is only one start in there, this season, but he generally does not fair well against Milwaukee's Best.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. Brandon Jennings

SG - Jared Dudley v. Monta Ellis

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Luc Mbah a Moute

PF - Luis Scola v. Ersan Ilyasova

C - Marcin Gortat v. Larry Sanders

Potential Suns Inactives: NA

Potential Bucks Inactives: NA

Key Match-Up

Gortat vs. Sanders

With all the attention on the guard play the battle in the paint could very well define this game. Over the past 13 games Sanders has been a machine averaging nearly a double-double (8.4 PPG and 9.8 RPG) while amassing 3.5 blocks per game. Gortat is capable of the same type of performances, but has been inconsistent all season. Both centers can control the paint with their shot-blocking and rebounding abilities, who will win the battle?

Interesting Stat: No. 1

The Bucks are the top shot-blocking team in the NBA led by Sanders and will make it even harder for the Suns to get points in the paint, where they only get 33% of at anyway.

Meaningless Stat: 2-2

Kendall Marshall is right now 2-2 against his former North Carolina Tar Heel teammates. He logged 2:33 combined in all four of those games. There is that.

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