MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks were expecting to play without Beno Udrih this weekend, but Udrih is giving it a go Friday night against Houston.
After practice Thursday, Bucks coach Scott Skiles wasn’t confident Udrih’s sprained right ankle would allow him to play, and the backup point guard sat out of Friday morning’s shootaround.
“We haven’t seen him (on the court) in a few days,” Skiles said. “He says he’s ready, so we’re going to put him back in there.”
The question lies in how much Udrih can give the Bucks. Injured Nov. 30 in Minnesota, Udrih missed 12 games before he returned Dec. 26 against Brooklyn and was active for three games before sitting out Wednesday against the Spurs.
“We’ll see what he can do,” Skiles said. “I won’t predetermine that. We will put him out there like we normally would and see how he’s moving and watch him to make sure he’s doing OK.”
Skiles is also altering his starting lineup against Houston, inserting Ekpe Udoh and shifting Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the small forward position and sending Marquis Daniels to the bench.
The move gives Skiles flexibility with Daniels able to play shooting guard if Udrih’s ankle flares up, but his main motivation is to get Mbah a Moute on Rockets guard James Harden.
Harden, the fifth-leading scorer in the NBA at 26.3 points per game, has posted 20-plus points in a career-best 14 consecutive games. It is the longest streak by a Houston player since a 14-game run by Yao Ming in 2005-06.
Acquired from Oklahoma City this offseason, Harden is one of the league’s best at getting to the foul line, averaging 8.8 makes and 10.3 attempts per game.
Houston and Milwaukee are two teams similar in style, and Rockets coach Kevin McHale told his team to prepare for a track meet.
“Their strengths are our strengths and their weaknesses are our weaknesses,” McHale said. “Their strength is getting up early and scoring early in the clock, and so is ours. Our weakness is defending early in the clock, and so is theirs. So I guess whoever might get the most fast-break points might win the game.”