It looks like closing out games in the fourth quarters is turning into the Brandon Jennings job, while Monta Ellis takes a side seat to the younger and better guard in the duo, while Ersan Ilyasova is suddenly making up for all of his bad games earlier this season for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Consistency isn’t something you usually find from teams like the Bucks (22-18), but now that they’ve won three games in a row against the three P teams (Phoenix, Portland, Philly), the last a 110-102 win against the 76ers, it’s safe to say firing Scott Skiles was a good move. Brandon Jennings scored 25 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter, adding 7 assists. Ilyasova has been disappointing all season, but suddenly erupted for two huge games: After 27 points and 14 rebounds against Portland, he did the same against the Sixers, scoring 27 and grabbing 16 rebounds.
Monta Ellis? You wouldn’t believe it, but he actually made most of his field goal attempts, scoring 18 points and handing out 10 assists to his teammates, as the Bucks won their sixth game out of their last 8, putting them at 7th in the Eastern Conference, six games above the ninth spot Sixers.
Jennings has also been quite hot over the last couple of games, scoring 30 points in the win against the Blazers. He’s enjoying the best month of the season for him in January, averaging 21.8 points per game, getting a bit more credit and responsibility from Jim Boylan. Boylan himself was especially proud of Ilyasova, who has been struggling on his fifth NBA season, shooting only 42.8% from the field.
He has that knack for tipping the ball to himself rebounding and coming up with the basket. When you look at Ersan, you don’t really see a great athlete, but rebounding is just determination. When he’s determined to get the ball, he’s bound to get it. Ersan gots his groove back. He really has been playing well for the last few games and has given us a big boost.
Someone who has been a little more consistent this season, Larry Sanders, continued to put up impressive blocking numbers. Sanders, averaging 3.2 blocks per game this season, knocked away two more in the win (adding 9 points and 5 rebounds), giving him at least one in his last 27 games, the second longest streak in the NBA behind Tim Duncan, who has blocked a shot in 29 straight.
It was known that the Bucks were going to be mostly about their backcourt this season, relying heavily on the abilities of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, while the bench isn’t exactly filled with talent. The key to success has been the improved play of their front-court, although it hasn’t been consistent. If Ellis and Jennings continue to feel this kind of freedom on offense under Boylan, while Ilyasova’s 27 point games weren’t just a magical occurrence, than the Bucks have nothing to worry about regarding their place in the postseason this year. The Sixers might have more individual talent, but they’re even more inconsistent, while the Boston Celtics are simply a mess.