Pump Up Music: Tegan and Sara -- "Walking With A Ghost"
The Big Picture: The Milwaukee Bucks come to Charlotte having lost five of their last six games, the only win a squeaker over the floundering Pacers. Furthermore, the Bobcats are 10-4 at home while the Bucks are 3-9 on the road.
Both teams are probably going to be in the mix for the final few playoff spots in the East come March, so these are the games that matter most for positioning. Charlotte could use a playoff spot simply to get the city interested in the team for a moment, while Milwaukee would see a playoff spot as validation of the Brandon Jennings pick and a step toward true title contention.
Key to Victory: Jennings is a really good player, and he's still probably the most important player on the Bucks, but Andrew Bogut is quietly putting together his best season on both ends of the floor. If Bogut anchors down the paint on offense and defense, that allows Ersan Ilyasova and Hakim Warrick to stay out on the perimeter more, one to shoot, one to slash, allows Carlos Delfino to get minutes at small forward instead of guard, allows Jennings to play alongside Luke Ridnour more than one might expect based on their builds, and, finally, all that allows Michael Redd to play fewer minutes during his transition into late-career Peja Stojakovic mode.
It all comes back to Bogut. If Dan Gadzuric can't play tonight, that leaves Kurt Thomas as the primary backup center. He's a nice player, but yet another guy who likes to face up to the basket from twelve feet and out. When everyone does that, it's not particularly effective against the Bobcats' excellent on-ball defenders. They need someone in the post who demands the occasional double-team to open things up for everyone else, and Bogut fits that bill.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Scott Skiles, notorious disciplinarian as a coach, was a bit of a hellion in high school and college. As noted by Wikipedia and John Feinstein's book, A Season on the Brink, Skiles was arrested for marijuana and cocaine possession while at Michigan State, and even spent some time in jail.