Bucks’ Sanders Has To Be A Factor

MIAMI — When Brandon Jennings made that upset prediction involving his Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat, he did so with Larry Sanders factored into the equation.

The Bucks’ rim protector and Defensive Player of the Year nominee has to play more than the 18 minutes and 41 seconds he played in that Game 1 loss. He was in foul trouble early and never got into a rhythm. He sat out the final four games of the regular season after a hard fall during an April 10 loss to Orlando, so Sunday night’s game was his first real game action in almost two weeks.

It showed. Sanders barely made a ripple in the first playoff action of his career, scoring six points, piling up as many fouls (five) as he did rebounds and not registering a single block.

Credit the Heat for going after him early and often and doing it in all sorts of ways. LeBron James and Udonis Haslem challenged him at the rim on three first-quarter possessions and Chris Bosh made sure to follow through on the game plan by stepping outside for jump shots in an effort to drag Sanders away from the basket.

If the Bucks are going to avoid a repeat performance in Game 2 on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, they’ll need to make the proper adjustments and make sure Sanders leaves a much bigger footprint on the action. (On NBA TV, pregame 7 p.m. ET)

“I’m going to keep myself in the game and play better,” Sander said. “Every time we were aggressive on defense, we got good things out of it. When they came out and they were aggressive, we couldn’t really match their intensity.”

The Bucks couldn’t match the Heat’s balance or energy either, especially when it mattered most. Jennings and Monta Ellis were plenty aggressive on both ends, combining for 28 points and five of the Bucks’ 12 steals.

They didn’t do a great job of involving Sanders or anyone else, though, an adjustment that Ellis and Bucks coach Jim Boylan said must change for Game 2.

“A lot of guys that usually help us out on the offensive end didn’t have a good shooting night,” Ellis said. “You’re going to have nights like that. We just have to stay together as a team, keep trusting each other … we have to play a perfect game, everybody has to be engaged.”

Sanders in particular. It’s difficult to scheme against players like Jennings and Ellis, guys who are every bit as craft and athletic as the Heat defenders assigned to stop them. Designing an attack for Sanders is much more deliberate. And when it is executed properly, the way it was in Game 1, can make a guy who averages nearly three block night a non-factor.

“I had to be a little less aggressive with the fouls I picked up,” Sanders said. “I wanted to be more aggressive in the fourth (quarter) but I went into the fourth with four fouls. But they were really aggressive in how they attacked the basket for rebounds, they attacked us in pick and rolls. They were really aggressive. And that was so smart on their part, to use Bosh the way they did. Definitely, in Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, or however many games we play, you’ll see me more aggressive if I’m not in foul trouble.”


  1. Big Mike says:

    Bucks will win tonight and shock the world by going on and defeating the Heat in seven games. they will overpower the Heat with their superior jheight advantage. they were nervous before but now are ready to play. they saw Chicago beat Brooklyn on the road without Derrick Rose and drew inspiration from that. watch….Bucks will surprise the Heat tonight.

  2. Big Mike says:

    i like the Bucks chances. the Heat are more hype than anything. NYC or Chicago can beat them and they know it deep down.

  3. stacey says:

    i really like this post!!!!! it shows how dominate Miami is> As well as showing how they work as a team and it turns into success

  4. W/E says:

    The only good thing Sanders can do in this series is to provide mad highlights by being posterized big time by Lebron. 3 games left for the Bucks and then they go fishing, time to dunk hard on the Bucks kiddos who thought they could win a the series against the HEAT. they cant even win a single game against the HEAT, how they even dare to think they would win the series…time to get humilated.

    • juice mania in Georgia says:

      you said a mouthful. I want some of what they was smoking when they said that they would beat the Heat in 6. In order to do that now the Heat would have to lose the rest of the way & let’s face it, nothing but death is gonna keep the Heat from winning. I Wanta sweep !!!!!!!!

      • jose says:

        Bucks are HEAT’s winning streak preamble……We are in Plyoffs-like mode…We are unstopable now : June 20th again.
        Go HEAT

  5. theholyspectator says:

    heat vs knicks ECF, thats gonna be the most exciting game as far as the eastern conferences goes, right now its just all lop sided games

  6. Chris says:

    I don’t know about winning, but they have the talent to at least compete. I honestly hope they win at least two to make the series more interesting. I wanna see two teams competing not one steamrolling the other. Guess I’ll have to wait for the ECF if I want to see a good competition involving the heat and another team

    • bball4life says:

      this guy ^^ is a hater, goes around reading all miami articles and then spits out his hater opinion.
      id like to see this guy after miami wins the championship

    • Turbo turbo says:

      It beats me why the coach doesn’t put Dalembert in the game when Sanders is in foul trouble.
      He’s a decent center who wasted a season not playing in Milwaukee…

    • AmmarZI says:

      I agree even though I honestly dont see that happening