For the first time this season, the Pelicans will face one of the most surprising potential playoff teams, the Bucks. Although the two teams records are virtually identical, Milwaukee sits 5 games inside the postseason picture as to where New Orleans continues to try and get more than just their foot in the front door.
However, the lack of good competition in the Eastern Conference shouldn't take away from what the Bucks have achieved. Prior to the All-Star game, they notched their 30th win of the season, and in the process, became the first team in history to double it's previous season's win total before the next All-Star break.
The Bucks have been able to hang their hat on the defensive end this season. After the trade deadline, it's become even more imposing with the addition of Michael Carter-Williams -- check out the height of their starting lineup: 6'6'', 6'7'', 6'11'', 6'10'' and 6'11''.
Jason Kidd and his staff have really pushed their players to make use of that length too.
The Bucks coaching staff charts "high hands," Hammond says — the percentage of time a defender has his hands reaching into potential passing lanes when he should.
With their incredible reach, the Bucks are able to run very aggressive defensive schemes. They overload the side with the ball and dare opponents to pass over it. They believe their incredible reach and athleticism on the wings should be able to thwart it. Usually it works according to plan; Milwaukee is second in the league in steals.
3 Keys to Victory
- Avoid defensive lapses. The Bucks are likely going to stifle the Pelicans offense to some degree, so in turn, the Pelicans need to do the same. Since the All-Star break, the Bucks have the worst Offensive Rating in the NBA (91.2). Make them execute and don't give up anything easy, especially in transition. They average 15.5 fast break points (5th in the NBA).
- Keep the turnovers to a minimum. Pretty self explanatory considering we just got done talking about how the Bucks enjoy getting a good deal of their points in transition. However, they're even better taking advantage of an opponent's turnovers. They rank 2nd in the league in the percentage of points after turnovers.
- Pound the offensive glass. For all their length, the Bucks are a terrible rebounding team. Conversely, the Pelicans are pretty good, especially with their offensive board work. A sizable advantage in the rebounding department could make the difference whether New Orleans leaves Milwaukee happy. Go get them Omer Asik and Anthony Davis!
Don't forget to stop by Brew Hoop for all of their analysis pre/post-game. Geaux Pellies!
What: Pelicans at Bucks
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center
When: March 9th, 7:00 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass