State of the Bucks – Week 4
State of the Bucks – A Weekly Review and Preview of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Previous and Upcoming Weeks
Last Week’s Results:
@ Atlanta, Won 108-91
vs. Golden State, Won 79-72
vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Lost 118-107
It was a week of some comfort for the Bucks and their fans, as the team broke .500 for the first time all year at 5-5, only to see a tough loss to an even tougher Los Angeles Lakers team. The dominating win in Atlanta seemed to be the stepping point for the Bucks, eagerly trying to shake off some early season flaws and finally becoming the team they were hoping to be. Against Golden State three days later, poor shooting again became the big story in a victory that should have been more dominant. Shooting poorly against Golden State is one thing, but carrying that over to the Lakers game spells doom.
The theme against the Lakers was “missed opportunities.” The Bucks eased back on their customary style of defense and instead matched LA’s own style of fast-paced basketball. The problem when playing against another talented run-and-gun offense is that the first team to slip up will lose the game. That is where “missed opportunities” entered the equation. The Bucks imploded in the 4th quarter, coming up short on plenty of jump shots and missing way too many free throws. Andrew Bogut was the biggest culprit, making only 2 of his 10 attempts from the line. Soon you’ll start hearing a lot about “Hack a Bogut” method of defense.
In the end, the Bucks did nothing to slow down the Lakers. Off-the-ball movement was pathetic and too many players were flat-footed on offense and defense. That didn’t become a factor until late in the game when too many shots were being forced in an attempt to make a comeback. Overall, the Bucks lost to a clearly more-dominant team.
Player of the Week:
Brandon Jennings is stepping up his game early in his sophomore NBA season. It is clear that the term “Fear the Deer” was invented because of him. At 21 years old, he is one of the most fearless players in the league. Late in the game against the Lakers, desperately trying to stage a comeback, Jennings took on a personal role of attacking Kobe Bryant on both offense and defense. Some rough play resulted between the two, but it was all in good, tough sportsmanship. Jennings may only be 6’1″, but there is no one in the league he won’t stand up to.
Along with that was his numbers game in which Jennings averaged near 30 points per game, shot a higher percentage, and picked up some slack on both rebounding and assists. An excellent week overall.
Other Standout Players:
John Salmons has had a solid bounce-back week after a rough opening. A small contingent of fans were certainly cursing the Salmons off-season signing up to this point, but you shouldn’t forget that he didn’t get much work in the preseason. The rust had been shaken off in 2 games this week, but some poor decisions against Los Angeles led to a few empty trips down the court.
Highlights of the Week:
Andrew Bogut averaging 15 rebounds in the 3 games this past week. Those are the numbers people expect him to put up consistently, and he is finally getting comfortable in doing that on a regular basis.
Disappointment of the Week:
There aren’t too many moments when the Bradley Center goes completely silent. That happened late in the Lakers game when Bogut fell hard on his surgically-repaired arm and struggled to put weight on it. He remained in the game, but it was a frightening sight this early in the season.
Of course that doesn’t qualify as “Disappointment of the Week.” What does is the concern for Bogut and his falling shooting percentage. His field goal percentage for the week was 47% (18-38) while he was a miserable 17% (2-12) from the free throw line. Hopefully teams won’t take advantage of this.
This Week’s Games:
Friday Nov 19th, @ Philadelphia
Saturday Nov 20th, vs. Oklahoma City
Things to Watch For:
Short week for the Bucks, as they have a back-to-back this upcoming weekend, and then 3 days off to make the 7 hour trip to Cleveland. Philadelphia is definitely a down team, and would make for a great boost of confidence on the road.
Match-up to Watch:
Oklahoma City’s record doesn’t quite reflect it, but they have one of the most talented teams in the NBA. Everything Kevin Durant does creates a mismatch for the opposing defense. Milwaukee’s defensive stopper Luc Mbah a Moute will most likely get that assignment even though Durant is taller and much longer than Mbah a Moute. Durant is the league’s leading scorer so expect a rotation of players to try to shut him down.
Once again the Bucks are in a stretch where they should have no problem winning half of the games this week. That has been the only constant so far this year. Their current 5-6 record reflects a team that is bringing their best only 50% of the time. I swear that in 2 weeks, it will be December 1st and I will stop using the term “It’s still early.” There are 6 games left until December 1st, and the Bucks should realistically win 4 of those and end the month 9-8, hopefully with some consistency to carry forward.