The Milwaukee Bucks had a difficult time picking up wins heading into the All-Star break, but that hasn't been the case when they've played the Brooklyn Nets.
The Bucks seek their 14th straight win in the series on Tuesday night when they open a home-and-home series in Brooklyn, which is expected to have its star point guard back.
Milwaukee (26-25) has dominated the New Jersey/Brooklyn franchise in recent seasons, winning 13 in a row by an average of 15.3 points.
Seven of those victories have come on the road, including a 97-88 win on Dec. 9. They made it two straight over the Nets this season with a 108-93 home win on Dec. 26.
After losing six of their previous seven overall, the Bucks (26-25) managed to limp into the All-Star break in eighth place in the Eastern Conference following a 94-92 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Although he was held to seven points in the win, Ersan Ilyasova has averaged 17.5 per game and shot 51.5 percent (26 for 46) from 3-point range in his last 13 contests.
Ilyasova has averaged 16.2 on 56.2 percent from the field and 10.4 rebounds in his last nine games against the Nets, including a 17-point, 11-rebound effort in the last meeting.
"Ersan got his groove back,' guard Monta Ellis said. "He really has been playing well for the last few games and has given us a big boost.'
Brandon Jennings, who denied reports over the break that he had a rift with the organization, has also been a big part of the team's success against Brooklyn. He's averaged 28.8 per game and connected on 16 of 27 (59.3 percent) from beyond the ace in his last four meetings.
Larry Sanders, who leads the league with 3.2 blocks, will be a game-time decision after missing the last four with a back injury.
While the Bucks shot just 9 for 41 (22.0 percent) from 3-point range in their last two, they've made 17 of 33 (51.5) from long range against the Nets this season.
Brooklyn (31-22) had lost six of nine before ending the first half with an 89-84 overtime win at Indiana on Feb. 11 and a 119-108 victory over Denver two days later.
"I think we've played great team ball. We have confidence in each other. That's the most important part,' said Brook Lopez, the team's only All-Star.
Both those wins came without Deron Williams, who sat out because of ankle inflammation. He had 18 points and eight assists in the first meeting this season against the Bucks, but missed the second with a bruised wrist.
C.J. Watson started both games in Williams' place and scored 25 with a career-best five 3-pointers in the win over the Nuggets, helping Brooklyn set a season high in points.
The Nets haven't beaten the Bucks since then-rookie Lopez led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds in a 99-95 win on March 3, 2009.
Lopez missed three straight meetings with the Bucks due to foot and ankle injuries, but finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the last matchup.
These teams will conclude the season series Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved