Apr 9, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center. The Thunder defeated the Bucks 109-89. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Milwaukee Bucks


Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat.

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Milwaukee Bucks Team Overview

The Bucks finished 9th in the Eastern Conference last season with a record of 31-35, four games back of the 8-seeded Philadelphia 76ers.

The big move for the Bucks last season was trading away Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson in exchange for Monta Ellis. The backcourt of Ellis and Brandon Jennings is one that doesn’t mesh perfectly but will still give teams trouble to match up with.

Ersan Ilyasova had a breakout season for the Bucks last year averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Milwaukee went ahead and re-signed Ilyasova this summer.

The Bucks drafted John Henson and Doron Lamb. They traded for Samuel Dalembert and signed free agent Joel Pryzbilla to fill the void Bogut left at center.

The Bucks have not gotten noticeable better for next year if at all. They may be able to compete for the 8-seed in the East but that’s about it.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the Bucks once last season and beat them by 20 in Milwaukee.

Russell Westbrook led the way with 26 points in 26 minutes. Kevin Durant had 19 points and shot 5-for-14 from the field. James Harden had 16 off the bench.

Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha had nice games. Ibaka had 13 points and five blocks in 27 minutes. Sefolosha had 14 points and seven steals in 31 minutes.

Ilyasova led the Bucks with 18 points but had only two rebounds. Jennings had 13 points and Drew Gooden had 14.

Ellis had nine points and seven assists and was 3-for-12 from the field. Ellis had 48 points in a game vs. the Thunder last season while he was still with the Warriors.

The matchup

The Bucks had the 17th best offense in the league last year in terms of points per possession. They were 11th best on spot-up plays and 22nd best on pick-and-roll plays, both which combined for nearly 40 percent of their offense.

The Thunder had the 5th best defense last year but were closer to average defending those two types of plays.

The Bucks were solid defensively ranking 12th in the NBA overall in PPP. They were 6th best vs. spot-up plays which is always a sign of a good defense. They ranked just 24th vs. isolation plays and 20th vs. the pick-and-roll which makes the Thunder an especially tough team to defend for them.

Next year

The Thunder will play the Bucks twice next year with the first meeting coming March 30 in Milwaukee. The Thunder will then host the Bucks on April 17.

The Bucks are not really a team that should give the Thunder much trouble as shown in their one regular season meeting last year. The Bucks are a nice team that will win some games in the Eastern Conference but the talent and athleticism on the Thunder side is really hard for Milwaukee to slow down.

If somehow Jennings and Ellis can fall in love playing together and develop a strong chemistry in the backcourt then that is a dynamic that could propel the Bucks to a few more wins than they would normally project out to. Otherwise, Milwaukee won’t be making much noise come playoff time.

Tags: Milwaukee Bucks Oklahoma City Thunder