Three Things to Watch in Nets-Bucks, Starring “Not Deron!”

OUT. (AP/Seth Wenig)

Tonight: The Brooklyn Nets travel to Wisconsin to take on the Milwaukee Bucks at 8 P.M. EST. The Bucks have won the last 12 matchups between these two teams, most recently a 97-88 victory on December 9th in Brooklyn that was much closer to a blowout than a nine-point victory.

As reported earlier, Deron Williams will sit tonight with a bruised right wrist.

Ian Eagle and Mike Fratello have the call on YES Network.

Here’s the three things to watch!

1) How they play without Deron. Duh. The Nets have actually played far better with Deron Williams off the floor this season — they’re -3.4 per 100 possessions with Williams on the court and an even +10 per 100 possessions with him on the bench. Of course, that also speaks to the strength of their backup rotation, particularly the C.J. Watson-led bench mob overtaking other team’s second units. With Watson replacing Williams, that puts additional pressure on rookie Tyshawn Taylor and Joe Johnson to assume creative duties with the bench mob. Really intrigued to see how the team ebbs and flows with Watson in the starting five.

2) Limit Milwaukee’s offensive strength with your own offense. Milwaukee’s not a particularly effective offensive team, but one place they’ve found a lot of success has been running the ball down their opponent’s lackadaisical throat-defense. They rank tenth in the NBA in fast-break points per game and are the eighth-most efficient team on the break, according to Synergy Sports Technology.

The Bucks broke open their last game against Brooklyn with 13 quick first-half points in transition, and the Nets never got back into the game. The Nets aren’t a good team defending the break, and the best way to limit transition opportunities is simply to make your shots and give yourself the extra time to set up defensively.

3) Push Monta Ellis away. Take a look at Monta Ellis’ shot chart this year, courtesy of NBA.com:

Get an idea of where he likes to shoot?

Unfortunately, the Nets aren’t exactly stalwarts at limiting shots in the paint, but Monta Ellis also likes to shoot a lot. So if they can even semi-limit his attacks into the paint, there’s a chance they’ll corral a lot of missed shots tonight.