Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 3/26/12

February 09, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..Milwaukee Bucks Brandon Jennings had 18 points and 5 assists..Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Detroit Pistons 81-93. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

Getty Images

MILWAUKEE -- Brandon Jennings is well aware that not everyone believes he and Monta Ellis can form a solid backcourt for the Bucks. Two undersized guards known for their scoring abilities on a Milwaukee team that now lacks a true center without Andrew Bogut. It sounds quite familiar to the Golden State teams that Ellis played on, where he and Stephen Curry were never able to turn the high-scoring, fast-paced Warriors into a winning team. Jennings has had doubters before, such as those who questioned his decision to play overseas rather than in college, and now he's out to prove that he and Ellis can make the Bucks a playoff team together. "We have a target on us now," Jennings said in a one-on-one interview. "Everybody wants to see, is it really going to work? Or are we going to be able to make that push for the playoffs? It's always been our big goal, to make the playoffs." So far, there have been mixed results. In their first five games together, Milwaukee went 3-2. The three wins all came on the road -- in Golden State, Portland and Charlotte -- all of which are teams with a record worse than .500. The Bucks' two losses came at home, both to playoff teams in the Eastern Conference; Boston and Indiana. "I just have to keep playing my game," Jennings said. "I can't change who I am and what I've been doing since I've been here. The only thing is now I have another guy who can score points. It just seems like the ball's been moving so well, (and now) me and him aren't scoring as much anyway." Since the trade, Ellis' numbers are significantly down. After averaging 21.9 points on 43.3 percent shooting with 6.0 assists this season in Golden State this season, Ellis has 13.8 points on 38.7 percent shooting and 5.6 assists since joining the Bucks. Jennings' numbers aren't down as much, but his 19.0 points-per-game scoring average prior to the trade has been 15.0 points in the first five games with Ellis. However, as a team, the Bucks are scoring more points every game since joining Jennings and Ellis. Milwaukee, which struggled so mightily on offense in recent seasons, is currently seventh in the NBA in points and third in assists. While Jennings, at 6-foot-1, would traditionally be considered the team's point guard, it has been Ellis -- at 6-3 and mainly a shooting guard in Golden State -- who has impressed many of his teammates with his point-guard-like vision and willingness to distribute the ball. "He's more a passer, to me, it seems, than scoring," Jennings said. "It's just the style of the offense he was in (with the Warriors.) I actually had heard before that, that he was (naturally) more of a distributor." What Ellis has shown in just five games with the Bucks has already taken pressure off of Jennings to have to run the offense on every play. But having Ellis on the court has been helpful to more than just Jennings. "It takes pressure off the whole team, not just Brandon," starting center Drew Gooden said. "We've got another guy that can facilitate. With Monta, that's definitely a plus for us. He can be a great playmaker." It was Ellis' skills as a ball-handler and passer that was a major factor when Milwaukee's front office and coaching staff was deciding on whether to go through with the trade. "Monta, in our opinion, was an underrated passer," coach Scott Skiles said. "Most guys that score the ball, people don't see a lot of the other things they do. He can make point-guard type plays. He's a good pick and roll player, and he's a willing passer. "But there's going to be moments when we need him to go and score and get baskets. We haven't had any need situations yet, but he'll certainly fill that role too. "The challenges are from the size standpoint." And it is that size factor that will be a looming issue for the backcourt of Jennings and Ellis for as long as they play together. That is especially noticeable on defense. When Milwaukee hosted the Pacers on Saturday, Ellis was matched up with Indiana's 6-9 shooting guard, Paul George. Ellis will also have to match up twice this season with the New York Knicks' much bigger guards, with J.R. Smith at 6-6 and Landry Fields at 6-7. "There's obviously a size issue, that's for sure," coach Scott Skiles said. "We weighed all that before making the move. (Small ball) is just kind of the way the league is going. Coaches put small players out there quite a bit, and they're very difficult matchups." When the Bucks made the trade, they were just on the outside looking in for the playoffs. More than a week later, that is still the case. While Milwaukee has won three of five, the Knicks -- who hold the Eastern Conference's eighth seed -- have been winning since replacing coach Mike D'Antoni with Mike Woodson. And while Jennings wants to show that he and Ellis can work well together, he knows the Bucks will likely have to win more than three out of every five games over the final month to get a chance at the postseason. "If New York keeps winning and we keep losing, obviously we know what's going to happen," Jennings said. Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Blake Griffin opts out of contract to become free agent

Report: Wolves targeting Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, other point guards in free agency

Conor McGregor’s coach says tentative plans include a return to UFC in 2017

Report: Mets open for business on the trade market

Markelle Fultz believes the Sixers are already a playoff team

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Jimmy Butler’s attitude toward Fred Hoiberg made players ‘uncomfortable’

St. Louis Cardinals to hold first LGBTQ Pride Night

John Mara: Extending Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t team’s No. 1 priority

Mike Trout reportedly wanted to sign ‘lifetime deal’ with Angels

Blackhawks, Blue Jackets swap Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad

Matt Forte expected to be ‘offensive workhorse’ for Jets?

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

Box Score 6/23: Philly continues to trust the process

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Gary Payton Award for best trash talk of the year

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker