As coach Scott Skiles continues to try to find a lineup that works, the Milwaukee Bucks’ starting five is changing again.
Larry Sanders will make his first start of the season Wednesday against San Antonio, with rookie John Henson returning to the bench. It will be Sanders’ first start since his rookie season, when he started 12 times.
Sanders recorded his first career triple-double (10 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks) Friday in a loss to Minnesota and followed up the next night with 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks. In his last three games, Sanders has 22 blocked shots, a franchise record. To compare, the most blocked shots Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever had in a three-game stretch with the Bucks was 20. Bucks opponents have 17 total blocks in Milwaukee’s last three games.
This means Sanders and Ekpe Udoh will start together inside. The duo has played very well together coming off the bench this season, and both have noted on many occasions that they play well off of each other. Earlier this season, Udoh called the pair “animals” on the court.
When Skiles tweaked the starting lineup prior to Saturday’s victory over Boston, he gave Sanders the opportunity to start, but the third-year pro elected to continue coming off the bench, feeling he gave the team an emotional spark in that role. Instead, Udoh made his first start of the season in place of center Samuel Dalembert.
It’s obvious this is another attempt by Skiles to find a starting lineup that works. The Bucks have fallen behind by 20 or more points in three of their last five games, and it was finally time to insert Sanders, who has been one of the Bucks’ best players this season, into the starting lineup.
In an ideal world, Skiles would be afforded the luxury of keeping Mike Dunleavy and Sanders in bench roles. Early on, it was working, but with the recent struggles of small forward Tobias Harris and Dalembert, the coach has turned to one of his bench sparks to provide a lift earlier in the game.
Banged-up Spurs: The Bucks will be facing a San Antonio team that won’t be at full strength Wednesday night.
According to the San Antonio News-Express, former Bucks forward Stephen Jackson, Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills and Danny Green will all miss Wednesday’s game.
The Spurs did get a bit of good news when guard Gary Neal said he will play against the Bucks despite a sore left Achilles’.
As for the Bucks, backup point guard Beno Udrih remains out.