Scouting the Opponents: Bucks and Thunder

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The Bucks Stop Here

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The Milwaukee Bucks have been hovering near .500 all season, and are battling for seventh place in the East with the Boston Celtics. With the big names already moved by the time the trade deadline rolled around, it was the Bucks that made the day’s biggest splash, acquiring J.J. Redick from Orlando. While the three-headed monster of Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and Redick that many envisioned hasn’t become a reality, one area in particular has kept the Bucks afloat since the trade – assist rate.

Before the trade deadline, the Bucks were assisting on 16.7% of their baskets. Since bringing Redick’s floor spacing and slashing abilities into the mix, that rate is up to 18.1%. As a result, over the last 21 games since the trade, the Bucks lead the league in assist-to-turnover ratio.

At the heart of this improvement is Brandon Jennings. His assist rate is a staggering 33.6% -- up from 22.3% before the trade -- now that the Bucks offense features two elite shooters in Redick and Mike Dunleavy.

It will be essential for the Knicks to contain the Bucks’ guards and their perimeter attack. Milwaukee features a lot of dribble hand-offs and movement on offense. The Knicks should be familiar with chasing J.J. Redick around the court and through screens – they dealt with Ray Allen in the division for five years. Limiting Jennings' forays into the paint, and sticking on the shooters when he does get there, will help grind the Bucks’ offense to a halt. Making Jennings one-dimensional should be the Knicks' number one objective heading into Friday night’s game.

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images