Jan 8, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) shoots against Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) during the game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 108-99. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Milwaukee Bucks(19-18) vs. Phoenix Suns(13-27)

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Twenty six, most Suns fans would recognize that number as the the number Suns high flying guard Shannon Brown wears on his jersey but what many Suns fans aren’t aware of is that the number twenty six is also the number of years it’s been since the Milwaukee Bucks won a game in the valley of the Suns.

The Suns are set to host the Bucks tonight at the U.S Airways center in downtown Phoenix. Entering tonight’s game the Bucks will be seeking it’s second win over the Suns this season while the Suns will be attempting to avoid their second straight loss.

“This is a team that you cannot turn the ball over against,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said after that match-up.

In the Suns last game against the Bucks a little over a week ago in Milwaukee, the Suns lost to the Bucks in Milwaukee 108-99. The Suns coughed up the ball 16 times which led to 22 points for the Bucks. During that game the Suns also allowed Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings to torch them for 29 points, and drill five 3-pointers in seven attempts.

“Brandon Jennings, he just took it over, he started shooting 3s. We couldn’t stop him,” Phoenix center Marcin Gortat said after the game.

Heading into tonight’s match-up the Suns are the favorite by 1.0 point according to ESPN.com. The Suns currently has Goran Dragic, Jermaine O’Neal and off course Jared Dudley on the injured list, all three players are under the status of day-to-day. Dudley has missed the last two games after spraining his wrist last Thursday in a loss against the Nets in Brooklyn and he’s expected to return tonight. Dragic and O’Neal are expected to play also. The Bucks are injury free.

Keys to the game: Suns 

– Pressure Jennings! Once Brandon Jennings find a consistency with his game, he’s going to be a star in the NBA. Jennings is an absolutely dynamic offensive player, there’s nothing he can’t do on the offensive end. Jennings struggled heavily against the Lakers a couple of nights ago when Kobe Bryant played that heavy pressure, physical defense on him. The Suns should look to do the same against Jennings tonight to prevent him from burning them a second time this season.

– Play the entire game! In the Suns last game against the Bucks, the Suns outscored the Bucks 56-50 in the 1st half, and got outscored 58-43 in the 2nd half. The Suns has to play a solid 48 minutes if they want to start winning these close games.

– Beware the Sander! Larry Sanders has been a block machine this season, leading the NBA in blocks with 3.2 blocks per game; scary thing is, the guy plays about 25 minutes on average. In the Suns last game against the Bucks, Sanders had six blocks against the Suns in about 26 minutes of action. The Suns will need to be ultra aggressive when attacking the rim tomorrow night…..

Keys to the game: Bucks

– Don’t worry about history! Historically speaking, the Bucks has a snowball’s chance to win tomorrow night given the fact that they haven’t won in Phoenix since February 21st 1987.

– Starters need to step up! The Bucks may have a formidable bench however their starting unit is a different story. The Bucks starting line-up ranks 26th in the NBA in points while their bench is ranked 10th among all NBA benches in scoring. The Bucks may not be a up tempo team but it speaks volume when your starting line-up only outscores the starting line-ups of Detroit, New Orleans, Charlotte and Washington.

The X-Factor! 

– Goran Dragic. Dragic will be burdened with a lot of heavy duties tomorrow night not only offensively but defensively. The Dragon will need to at least contain Jennings tomorrow night. The Bucks are 9-4 this season when Jennings scores 20 points or more. On the offensive side of the ball, Dragic needs to find his range again. In the month December, Dragic shot just 29% from 3-point land, and in January he’s shooting an abysmal 23% from deep. Where’d your range go Dragon?

Match-up of the night!

– No secret here, clearly it’s Dragic vs. Jennings. Both guys are dynamic, score first mind-set, left handed points guards it’s going to be a good one; it was the last time.

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Tags: Milwaukee Bucks NBA Phoenix Suns

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