By J.M. Poulard

The Golden State Warriors (20-27) will host the playoff hopeful Milwaukee Bucks (19-28) tonight at Oracle Arena. The Bucks made the postseason last year but are currently on the outside looking in of the Eastern Conference standings. Let’s have a look at what the Dubs should expect from this Milwaukee team tonight.

On offense, the Bucks average an anemic 91.9 points per game (last in the NBA) on 42.7% field goal shooting (29th in the league).The biggest problem this Milwaukee team has is they lack efficient scorers. If one of their players gets hot from the perimeter, then they might be in for a good scoring night; but otherwise they just struggle to put up points on the board. If we look at the decent scoring teams in the league, we will notice that they might perhaps excel in one facet of the offensive game or possibly be good in several facets. The Bucks however, are subpar in every offensive shooting stat and are even abysmal in certain offensive categories.

In order to illustrate this point, have a look at Milwaukee’s shooting percentages from different areas of the floor (according to Hoopdata):

Shot location FG% NBA rank
10 feet or less .400 26
10 to 15 feet .351 26
16 to 23 feet .381 20
3PT range .347 21

These shooting numbers have been known to scare children away. And yet, it gets worse. The Bucks lack strong finishers on their roster, which results in their inability to make shots when they reach the basket. Scott Skiles’ team averages 21.5 shots at the rim (19th in the NBA) and converts them at a 56.0% clip (last in the league).  Consequently, they only average 36.8 points in the paint (28th in the association).

The inability to make shots at the rim means that this Bucks team has to scratch and claw to get points.Given the fact their opponents do not need to send a huge amount of help to the basket area, it results in players thinking that they can get opportunities to go one on one and possibly get all the way to the basket. This translates into a lack of ball movement as evidenced by their 18.3 assists per game (last in the association).Fear the Deer when they are on the offensive.

As bad as the Bucks offense is, the reason they are able to stay in games is because of their defense. Milwaukee surrenders 93.1 points per game (fourth best in the NBA) on 44.5% field goal shooting (eighth in the league).Scott Skiles’ defense is predicated on keeping opponents out of the paint. As a result, this Bucks team typically forms a wall in pick and roll situations as well as drives to discourage players from getting to the basket. They will even on occasion double team ball handlers that attack the baseline and force them to kick the ball back out as the defense rotates back to the open man to adequately contest his shot (33.8% three point shooting allowed, good for fifth in the league). The end result is that Bucks opponents only manage to create 20.9 shots at the rim (eighth best mark in the association). Also, Andrew Bogut’s presence in the paint causes offensive players to routinely change their shots because of his shot blocking ability. Indeed, the Bucks allow teams to convert 60.2% of their shots at the rim (eighth in the NBA).

Because this Milwaukee team is so help oriented towards the painted area, they only yield 36.5 points in the paint per game (fourth best in the league) and also do a great job of protecting the boards as evidenced by their 9.7 offensive rebounds allowed per game (third best in the NBA).

The Bucks do have some areas in their defense that can be exploited however.For instance, in pick and roll situations towards the sidelines, they tend to give the ball handler enough space to shoot a midrange jumper. Typically, Milwaukee allows teams to shoot 40.0% from 16 to 23 feet range (20th in the league), which means that Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis could be getting open looks from this distance tonight. In addition, as good as Milwaukee is at changing shots at the basket, they do struggle with contesting the field goal attempts of athletic finishers; thus if the likes Dorell Wright and David Lee get to the rim, they should be able to finish strong or get fouled.

Milwaukee game notes: The Bucks have lost their last two road games by a combined 22 points.

Golden State game notes: The Dubs are 1-4 in their last five home games with their lone win coming against a Utah team that saw Deron Williams sit out due to injury.

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