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News » Bucks-Nets Preview 2009-03-30

Bucks-Nets Preview 2009-03-30

Bucks-Nets Preview 2009-03-30
A few weeks ago, the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks both looked like contenders to earn one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Now, they have something else in common.

Both teams are on losing streaks and quickly fading from postseason contention going into their meeting Monday night in New Jersey.

Even though the Bucks have struggled through an injury-riddled season and the Nets are in the midst of a rebuilding process, both still have a mathematical chance to earn the East's eighth and final playoff spot.

But it looks more and more like neither will claim it. Still playing without Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut, the Bucks (31-43) have lost five straight and 10 of their last 12, while the Nets have dropped four in a row.

New Jersey (30-43) is 6-16 since Feb. 8, but perhaps the most disappointing of those losses was Sunday's 108-99 defeat at Minnesota.

Even though the woeful Timberwolves were missing top scorers Al Jefferson and Randy Foye, the Nets still struggled defensively, allowing Minnesota to shoot 51.4 percent from the field and losing despite getting 36 points and eight rebounds from Vince Carter.

"It's just very, very disappointing, obviously knowing what's at stake, that we couldn't put forth a better defensive effort than what we did," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said.

The loss dropped the Nets five games behind eighth-place Chicago in the East with nine to play as the team tries to avoid a second straight spring without the postseason. They may need to win all of their remaining games to even have a chance.

"It's just unacceptable," Carter said. "We feel like we're very capable of being in the playoffs and this was an opportunity to jump start us into accomplishing that and, you know, we took a step back."

The Bucks have been keeping up with New Jersey's negative pace, although their slide is easier to explain given the absences of Redd, their leading scorer, and Bogut, their leading rebounder.

They certainly looked shorthanded on Saturday night, when they lost 102-85 at Miami, making their current skid their longest of the season. Milwaukee closed the 2007-08 campaign with eight straight losses.

Richard Jefferson scored 32 points against the Heat, but the Bucks have given up at least 100 points in all three games entering the final leg of their four-game road trip. Opponents are shooting 49.1 percent in that span, and Milwaukee has now lost a season-worst seven straight on the road.

"We haven't been playing the type of basketball that we would like," Jefferson said. "We've been fighting all year long. The last 10-12 games we've been very inconsistent. We still have a ways to go. ... We just want to win as many games as possible and see where we stand. We just have to keep fighting."

The Nets traded Jefferson to Milwaukee last summer in exchange for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. In his first three games against his former team, he has averaged 20.0 points but shot just 28.6 percent from the field.

The Bucks are 1-2 in those games, including a 99-85 loss at New Jersey on Feb. 3 - a game in which Carter had his only triple-double of the season. Milwaukee has dropped its last six games at the Izod Center by an average of 12.6 points.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 30, 2009


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