Bucks vs. Warriors preview: Monta Ellis, Milwaukee visit Golden State

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly a year after the big Monta Ellis-Andrew Bogut trade, the Warriors and Bucks tip off Saturday night.

Nearly a year ago, the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors agreed to a trade that would swap franchise faces and shape the direction of each team for years. On Saturday, the two squads meet up at Oracle Arena for the second and final time this season.

While that big trade, which sent Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to Golden State in exchange for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown, hasn't panned out perfectly for either team, the overall results on both sides are encouraging.

Behind the emergence of Stephen Curry as a legitimate franchise player, the Warriors have posted a 35-28 record this season, good for the sixth seed in the West if things hold up.

Even though Bogut has done little to nothing for Golden State, it's hard not to look at the trade as addition by subtraction. To many, it's easy to wonder whether Curry would have developed into this kind of player as quickly with Ellis playing such a big role.

In Milwaukee, Ellis has still been his high-production, low-efficiency self, but the Bucks have played well this season with a core of Ellis, Brandon Jennings and breakout big man Larry Sanders. Though a 30-29 record isn't spectacular, the Bucks are eight games ahead of Toronto for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

And as maligned as Ellis' play might be, particularly in the statistics-savvy community, it's difficult to ignore how well he's played of late. In the past five games, all with new acquisition J.J. Redick playing, Ellis has been a star, averaging 25.6 points, 7.2 assists and 3.8 steals in 41.2 minutes per game on 53 percent shooting.

Even if Ellis and the Bucks, winners in four of their past five games, can't keep this up, one has to wonder how much better off Milwaukee would be with an oft-injured Bogut on the roster.

Though he can be a legitimate defensive force and is one of the best all-around big men in the league when healthy, Bogut simply hasn't had that privilege in recent years.

Since being acquired by Golden State last spring, he's appeared in just 15 games due to a variety of injuries. And when he's been able to play, the Warriors have actually been worse off, as noted by BrewHoop, SB Nation's Bucks blog.

If he can round into form before the end of the season, Golden State will be even more dangerous than it is right now. Getting started with a big performance in his first game against his former team would be a rather sweet start.

Saturday's game begins at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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