The Milwaukee Bucks are hoping a stronger bench will help them show enough improvement this season to advance beyond the first round of the NBA's Eastern Conference playoffs.
Gone are veterans Ervin Johnson, Tony Kukoc and Jiri Welsch. The bench this season features newcomvers like Steve Blake , Ruben Patterson and Brian Skinner , along with Ersan Ilyasova and rookie David Noel. The Bucks also have Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell back again.
The Bucks will start the season in Detroit tonight and Ruben Patterson will move into the starting lineup at small forward with Bobby Simmons sidelined by a foot injury.
This is Skinner's second stint with the Bucks. He played in 56 games with the team during the 2003-2004 season. He spent in Sacramento and Portland last season.
The Bucks will play their first two games on the road, in Detroit tonight and in Toronto on Friday night, before returning home to play their home opener on Saturday night against Sacramento.