Monday, November 12, 7:00 PM at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
NOTE: Comcast SportsNet HD is now on XFinity® Channel 847
by Warren Croxton and Max Rappaport
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
G Brandon Jennings vs. G Jrue Holiday
Both selected in the 2009 NBA Draft, Brandon Jennings and and Jrue Holiday have each taken a different path to get to get to where they are today. Jennings, the 10th-overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, did not go to college, but instead opted to play overseas in Italy for one season before entering the draft. Holiday, the 17th pick, spent one year at UCLA before being taken by Philadelphia. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Holiday was signed by the Sixers to a multi-year extension prior to the start of this season. Jennings, however, did not receive an extension and will become a restricted free agent at the end of the year.
In Jennings' first three seasons, he has gradually improved both his scoring average and his shooting percentage. However, despite his improvement, the Oak Hill Academy alum ranked 26th among 31 qualified point guards in field goal percentage last season. The former McDonalds’ All American is not an easy matchup, as he possesses elite athleticism, ball-handling ability, and scoring instincts. Last year, he ranked first among point guards in threes attempted, second in shots around the rim, and fifth in shots from 3-9 feet. Jennings is a guard who can mix up his game and keeps opponents on their toes, as he can score from anywhere on the court.
Early in this year's training camp, head coach Doug Collins says he saw a something new in point guard Jrue Holiday; something that influenced him to change up the offense and put the ball in the hands of his young point guard with much greater frequency. Holiday has taken off, averaging 18.2 points per game, sixth-best among point guards, and 9.5 assists, third-best in the entire league. He's also shooting career-high percentages of 44.8% from the field and 43.5% from long range.
The matchup between these two guards, both in the primes of their careers, is a fascinating one. This season, Jennings has been shooting less, but has picked up his game in other area, averaging 8.6 assists and 3.4 steals per game. For Philadelphia to be successful Monday, keeping the playmaking Jennings out of the paint, and forcing him to take shots beyond the arc, where he’s shot just 32.8% over the past two seasons, will be vital.
The New-Look Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks went 31-35 in 2011-12 and finished ninth in the Eastern Conference, narrowly missing postseason play. Midway through the season, the team traded away former first-overall pick Andrew Bogut and veteran Stephen Jackson for Kwame
Brown, Ekpe Udoh and Monta Ellis. Ellis, the focal point of the deal for the Bucks, has averaged 18.2 points per contest through 26 games in Milwaukee. Jennings and Ellis were the top two scorers for a team that finished fifth in the league points per game last season (99.0).
Lack of consistent defensive performance was the primary culprit for the Bucks falling short of the playoffs last season, as they ranked 22nd in points allowed per game (98.7). To help fix those issues, head coach Scott Skiles oversaw the additions of North Carolina Tarheel John
Henson and former Sixer Samuel Dalembert via trade.
Henson averaged 2.5 blocks per game during his college career at Chapel Hill and Dalembert has averaged 1.9 blocks per game during11-year career. The team also features Larry Sanders, a third-year shot blocker from Virginia Commonwealth. The 6-11 center is averaging career highs in points (12.0), rebounds (9.2), and blocks (2.6) early on this season.
Guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are two of the most electric scorers in the league, as both ranked top-20 in the league in scoring last season. The former Golden State Warrior, Ellis, has averaged 19.5 points on 16.5 shots per game during his eight-year career. The two aren’t afraid to shoot at a high volume, as, combined, they accounted for 38.5% of their team’s shot attempts last season. Jennings saw his field goal percentage improve with the addition of Ellis, as teams were deterred from double-teaming him.
LAST TIME THEY MET
4/25/2012 - Sixers 90, Bucks 85
In the penultimate game of the 2011-12 regular season, Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks shined, with 29 and 27 points, respectively, as the Sixers defeated the Bucks and notched their 35th win of the season. For Turner, it was a career high in points; he also pulled down 13 rebounds. The Bucks had four players in double figures in the loss. With the playoffs around the corner, veterans Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams got the night off.