State of the Bucks – Week 3
Last Week’s Results :
@ Boston, Lost 105-102 (OT)
@ Indiana, Won 94-90
vs. New Orleans, Lost 87-81
vs. New York, Won 107-80
If you find yourself double checking that this is actually a new edition of “State of the Bucks”, the confusion cannot be blamed here. Another week of the season has clocked in and out, yet the same problems persist.
The theme once again for the Milwaukee Bucks has been the inability to create opportunities for themselves. The entire bunch lapsed in several statistical categories, representing a team that has not figured out how to work with each other. Yet. The word yet has to be added, especially after Tuesday night’s dominating performance against the New York Knicks. It was widely known entering this season that the Milwaukee Bucks would require time to gel. If you are a Green Bay Packer fan and are glad that after 9 games that team has finally “figured it out”, then you know how the concept works: injuries, a majority of new and younger players, and other challenges take time to work around, especially when the NBA season is only 8 games old. But the 27 point victory over New York can allow fans to turn down the anxiety, as long as coach Scott Skiles keeps turning up the intensity.
Player of the Week :
Andrew Bogut makes the “Player of the Week” category for the first time this season. Get used to it, because he’ll be a regular. It may be odd that of the three games Bogut played this week, the Bucks only won one of them. But don’t take anything from that. Bogut averages 10 rebounds a game and makes a great majority of his shots. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet against New York only because the starters got some well-deserved rest in the 4th. Yet his impact is always there. As long as he is healthy, he’ll be able to alter any game, on both ends of the court, by creating a presence in the lane that opposing players want nothing to do with.
Other Standout Players :
Ersan Ilvasova came on stronger this week but that’s not saying much. His first week numbers were terribly below average. His performance overall is much worse than last season. Some improvement is always good, but his role off the bench is vital. Ilvasova has so many talents not typical of a player his size, and he needs to utilize them better.
Highlights of the Week :
The Knicks game. The whole game, plain and simple, makes the “Highlight of the Week”. The Bucks shot 51% and held a big advantage in rebounding. You will never lose a game if you shoot and rebound at those levels. The Bucks’ bench finally had the impact that was expected of them. There aren’t too many teams with talent depth like Milwaukee. When their bench can overwhelm any other team’s bench, big things can be expected.
Disappointment of the Week :
Hopefully this will be the last time this is said: Drew Gooden has been a disappointment. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. On an offense with so many moving parts it is common for individual statistics to drop a bit. But when your own percentages are just plain bad, especially compared to the rest of your career, some immediate concern is normal. Again, the season is young and there is time for Gooden to fit in properly. He finally found his aggressive approach against New York and simply needs to keep it up.
This Week’s Games :
Wednesday Nov 10th, @ Atlanta
Saturday Nov 13th, vs. Golden State
Tuesday Nov 16th, vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Things to Watch For :
This is the Bucks’ first game against Atlanta since their epic first round match up last season. The Bucks were without Bogut (injury) and had a huge disadvantage in height and athleticism. They solved those problems in the offseason and this is the best chance to put their new talents on display.
The Bucks came up short in overtime against an elite Boston team last week, but their intensity was good. They finally found their groove against New York, and need to be on top of their game in order to hang with the 2-time defending champion Lakers. This will be a measuring-stick game because in order to BE the best, you have to BEAT the best, especially at home.
Match-up to Watch :
Golden State PG Stephen Curry finished 2nd in last year’s Rookie of the Year voting (Brandon Jennings was 3rd), and while Milwaukee fans were upset by it, they at least got to enjoy the playoffs while Golden State rotted in the Western Conference cellar.
In two games against each other last year, Jennings had his record 55-point games vs. Golden State, and outperformed Curry across the board. Curry started this year with more promise but hasn’t been consistent due to a right ankle injury.
Final Thoughts :
The two names that stand out this week: Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric. Both were with the Bucks for some time before being traded this past summer. Both gave mediocre performances during their tenure here while taking home massively-bloated contracts. Will the crowd cheer or boo? I doubt the crowd will care or even notice.
After an optimistic 2007-08 season for Golden State, they signed free agent Corey Maggette and proceeded to spend the next two years near-last in the NBA. Maggette’s performance and Golden State’s team philosophy were often criticized during those failed years. Golden State has started this season strong, and Maggette will feel some motivation to step up his game against his old team.