The Milwaukee Bucks could be without three starters on Wednesday night when they visit a struggling Atlanta Hawks team that has been missing one of its best players for the past few weeks.Milwaukee (7-9) has played without leading scorer Michael Redd since he injured his ankle in a 94-86 win at New York on Nov. 2. The Bucks have gone 5-7 without Redd, who is not expected to return until next week at the earliest, but that's not the only injury affecting the team.
Starting point guard Luke Ridnour missed Monday's 108-101 loss in Orlando after suffering a scraped and bruised knee in Milwaukee's 79-74 victory at Charlotte on Saturday, and center Andrew Bogut left the game against the Magic with a bruised knee.
Redd was averaging 21.3 points in four games before his injury, Bogut is averaging 11.4 points and a team-high 10.9 rebounds, and Ridnour adds 10.0 points and 5.2 assists per game.
Bucks coach Scott Skiles, though, is more concerned with his team's play after it allowed Orlando to score 33 points in the first quarter and fell behind by 10.
"I am not going to make excuses, I am going to look at the tape, I'm going to look at the guys we have and try and figure out why we came out so poor," Skiles said. "Because look at the final score, look at what happens. If we would have had any start to this game at all, it's a game we could have won, with the way our roster is right now."
Richard Jefferson, who scored a game-high 25 points, also doesn't want to blame Milwaukee's poor play on injuries.
"We know that no one is going to feel sorry for us," said Jefferson, averaging 18.4 points in his first season with the Bucks. "We go out there with every intent to winning every game. We believe we can win every game. ... We know that we can play against a bunch of quality teams even short-handed. We don't take any positives that we just happened to be close tonight."
Atlanta (8-5) wasn't close in its last game, falling 110-96 at Cleveland on Saturday for its fifth loss in seven games after starting 6-0. The Hawks scored 12 points in the first quarter and trailed 79-58 heading into the final period.
They again played without starting forward Josh Smith, who has missed nine straight games with a sprained left ankle. Smith averaged 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in four games before getting hurt, and a date for his return remains uncertain.
Atlanta's starting unit combined to score 38 points against the Cavs. Joe Johnson, who came in averaging 25.7, scored four on 1-for-8 shooting from the field.
"It was a tough night," he said.
Johnson averaged 18.8 points as Atlanta and Milwaukee split their four meetings last season with each team earning its victories at home. The Hawks have won three straight at Philips Arena over the Bucks, averaging 108.7 points.
They now get to face a Milwaukee club that is still trying to adapt to Skiles' defensive scheme.
"We are not the type of team that can come out and outscore a team and outplay them, and hit a bunch of shots," Jefferson said. "We are going to have to get stops and defend."