When the Sixers and Bucks take the floor tonight, take a hard look at both teams, then take a hard look at both coaches. One of them is led by a buffoon who speaks in pointless riddles, cares only about 20-foot jumpers and playing head games. He takes losses one of two ways, either shaking them off as flukes, or pointing fingers everywhere but at himself. The other coach seems to be on the verge of a heart attack, living and dying with losses. He demands perfection from his players, he preaches defense and hustle at all times and won't accept anything less. Look at the records, look at the rosters and tell me coaches don't matter in the NBA.
Skiles isn't the perfect coach, obviously. His style can be grating, and eventually he'll probably wear out his welcome in MIL like he did in CHI (unless he can build up a body of work that gives his system and style more weight, it's going to be really hard to get this kind of effort out of a team year after year.) Offensively, let's say he's challenged. You know what, though, I'll go ahead and say it. Put Skiles on the Sixers bench this summer and Eddie Jordan on the Bucks' bench and I bet the teams flip flop in the standings.
After setting the league on fire early in the season, Brandon Jennings has settled into pretty much the type of player people expected him to be from the get go. He's got electric tools, but maybe not a great understanding of how to use them, yet. He shot the ball unbelievably well early in the year, but his numbers are kind of dismal right now. When your point guard is taking 15.2 shots/game and only converting on 37% of them, your offense isn't going to be very productive. At least two or three of his shots, per game, should be going to Andrew Bogut. As a playmaker, though, I think Jennings is ahead of the curve. 2.4 assists/turnover is a nice mark for a rookie who has started every game in his rookie season, especially playing on a team without solid jump shooters around the perimeter (providing easy assists).
Bogut has turned into an animal. Delfino, Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute provide defensive intensity. John Salmons has joined another team making a playoff push and seems to fit perfectly as a secondary scorer.
The Bucks have won 8 straight at home, and sit comfortably in the #5 spot in the East, while the Sixers are fighting it out for the 5th-worst record in the league. Yeah, I know it's depressing.
Anyway, if you need some good news, we won't have to see Lou Williams "guarding" Jennings tonight. I expect Jrue to get the call for most of the game, and that should provide a nice matchup. Jrue should be up to the task. I'm guessing we'll see the same starting lineup, so Iguodala on Salmons should also be interesting.
This is your game thread. The tip is at 8pm. I'll be around, stop by if you dig John Salmon's King Tut goatee.
By the way, Wizards at Pacers (go Wiz) and Kings at Nets tonight (go Kings).
LATE EDIT: Completely forgot the most-compelling storyline. Jodie Meeks' triumphant return to the city he first called home in the NBA. I don't know about you, but I can't wait.