I'm about to start another best of seven series. This series will be against the Milwaukee Bucks. Before the series gets started, I wanted to do a quick breakdown of what I am thinking before I begin it, so you can see the kind of planning I'm doing to prepare for it. I'm on the PS3 and in this series, I'll be facing PSN user sreckless.
Sreckless recently defeated me 0-4 when he used the always tough Boston Celtics. On paper, the edge in this series seems to favor the Pacers but I'm certain that he will be just as tough to beat as the Milwaukee Bucks as he was when he used the Celtics. I know he'll be spending time putting together a solid game plan to beat me. And, since he knows this Pacer team and how I like to use them, that will make it even tougher for me because he is already familiar with my roster. In my case, I have to prep for a whole new team.
The Bucks are in the Eastern Conference, so the series will follow a conference finals format of 2-2-1-1-1. As is customary, I have the home court advantage with the Pacers. The settings we will be using are Hall of Fame, simulation mode and 12 minute quarters.
I haven't played the Bucks before so the first step for me is to start to start looking at their roster and see what's in store for me. I like to break down each position and see what kind of offensive fire power they have.
The Bucks have three guys on the roster at point guard. The starter is Brandon Jennings and I'll expect to see a heavy dose of him during the games we play. I wouldn't be surprised to see Udrih come in at all since he it looks like he can shoot pretty well. I don't expect to see Livingston but that doesn't mean I won't. I'm pretty sure sreckless uses manual substitutions. There's a good chance Jennings might go the whole way barring foul trouble.
I like to go into practice mode and have a look at each player's hot zones. Here you can see that Jennings is mainly deadly from the left corner so I'll need to be aware of that. Since he is the point guard, he'll be spending most of his time near the top of the key early in the shot clock I'd assume. I just made a note to myself to check the Bucks and see who brings the ball up. He is still a threat from three so I can't leave him open. I'd also suspect that Jennings will be used to drive to hoop but unlike Rondo in the last series, he won't be as effective near the rim as he was - especially if I can get Hibbert near him. But he has a lot of great abilities so he will be a handful.
Udrih's hot zone chart is a little redder. He is particularly effective within the free throw line area and in. If it were me and I'll played Udrih, my first option would be to get him in the lane and get open looks if I could mainly because he is so highly rated in there. Otherwise, he's a decent shooter if he is open from the rest of the court. It will be important if he plays to guard him because of that. Even though he isn't rated as high as Jennings, he doesn't lose a whole lot except for some quickness if he does use him.
The last guy on the roster listed at point guard is Livingston. It looks like he can shoot inside and decent from mid range. It's not to say he doesn't have skills though. I've certainly seen scrubs play awesome before so anything is possible.
At shooting guard is their premiere player in Monta Ellis. The backup is Mike Dunleavy. I don't expect to see him much unless for some reason Monta would get into foul trouble.
My assistant coach "The Kid" did a create a legend with Monta and he was awesome. He's a good shooter and with a 91 inside rating is a good finisher.
A look at his hot zone chart shows him to be a better three point shooter at the top of the key and if I am going to give up some shots to him, it would be best if I shaded him to the right side of the court where he's a little colder over them so that's going to be part of the challenge.
Stopping Monta from killing us is our first goal. While we won't stop him completely, we can try and limit him and keep his shot percentage below 50 percent.
Now it's here I might suggest to my opponent that he start Mike Dunleavy in Monta Ellis' place but I doubt he will take me up on that one..lol.
If he wants to beat me with Dunleavy, I'll take my chances. One thing is for sure though, Mike Dunleavy can shoot so I will have to guard him.
In checking with "The Kid" he tells me that the small forward spot isn't that strong of a position for the Bucks. There are three small forwards on the roster with Mbah A Moute being the starter. I could see all three of these guys seeing action. I am expecting I will see Delfino since he is a little hotter on the three from the corners but then isn't everybody?
Personally, I'm worried about the small forward spot because they aren't highly rated. I have played enough teams that have destroyed me with guys that they shouldn't. So, I will not be surprised if he gets some scoring from this spot.
Power Forwards and Centers
The Bucks are packed at power forward carrying six guys at the power forward spot.
Because of this, you can slide some of these guys into the small forward slot and to center. So, it's going to be interesting to see what he does with his lineup. The Bucks are pretty weak at center with Kwame Brown.
I think Ilyasova will provide sreckless some additional 3 point shooting which he likes and most likely start Gooden at the center spot. It will be a pleasure to not see Kevin Garnett down at center in this series.
In looking at the Bucks and how they like to play, I started by looking at their playbook. I noticed that it is heavy on pick and rolls. I don't recall sreckless using the pick and roll much in our last series so it will be interesting to see how he approaches the game. I know that he is used to using Rondo to get to the basket and Jennings certainly has the skills to get into the lane and find open guys.
I know that in our last series, sreckless studied his play book to see what kind of gems he could find. Will he go to the pick and roll this series. That is yet to be seen.
What To Expect
The one thing I think is interesting about this upcoming series is that he is really strong at guard and the Pacers have a dominate low post game. In a way, each team is the flip side of the other.
That's not to say that the Pacers guards can't play, but on paper look weaker and I know sometimes against stronger competition they feel a lot weaker when I use them.
As always, I'll need strong play from everybody to pull out a victory in this series as methodical as sreckless is. Since I've yet to beat him, I'll claim underdog status.
Game one is scheduled for Saturday morning.