State of the Bucks – Week 9
State of the Bucks – A Weekly Review and Preview of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Previous and Upcoming Weeks
Last Week’s Results :
@ San Antonio, Lost 92-90
vs. Utah, Lost 95-86
@ Portland, Lost 106-80
@ LA Lakers, Won 98-79
Just when you thought the week was at a complete loss, the Bucks do something crazy like sneak out of Los Angeles with a 19-point thumping of the Lakers. Going back a month now, the Bucks seem to have trouble with some of the elite teams in Milwaukee (Miami, Utah) but have no problems putting down the top teams on the road (Dallas, 2-pt loss to San Antonio). If it wasn’t such a strong statement victory, it could be cause for concern.
Player of the Week :
No one really had an excellent week, but John Salmons did earn his first appearance at the Player of the Week spot. He kept his turnovers down while finally stepping out of his funk and hitting shots. Hitting 45% from the field and 58% from behind the arc led to 20.3 points per game on the week. Those are generally the numbers Carlos Delfino and occasionally Brandon Jennings had been putting up. While both are missing some time, it’s more important than ever that Salmons picks up the pieces.
Other Standout Players :
Chris Douglas-Roberts put up 11 points per game during the 4 games this week, all of them coming in starting roles. He hasn’t gotten a full load of minutes yet, and perhaps he is still fitting in after missing a chunk of the season. His ability to crash the basket has become a solid part of the team’s system and he has plenty of room to improve.
Highlights of the Week :
Sure, a lot of people will tell you that the Lakers were looking ahead to the team’s next match-up, a Christmas day battle with the Miami Heat. But this is a Phil Jackson-coached team, and they don’t look ahead. They just weren’t prepared. But you can’t blame them, how can any team prepare for another when a huge chunk of that team is missing? Since 2009, Brandon Jennings only missed one game, and that was a sloppy blowout at the hands of Portland on Monday. That is the only instance on film the Lakers had to prepare for a Jennings-less Bucks team. They just had no idea what to expect.
Disappointment of the Week :
It would be easy to go with the San Antonio game, the two point buzzer-beater defeat to the best team in the league. As well as the Bucks played against San Antonio, they brought none of that intensity to the game against Utah. It was a good back-and-forth effort until the Bucks completely fell apart at the end. Jennings was slowed down by his foot injury, and will now miss the next 4-6 weeks. The Portland game showed that the Bucks had no identity without Jennings, but the Lakers game showed they can manage just fine for the next month and a half.
This Week’s Games :
Thursday Dec 23rd, @ Sacramento
Monday Dec 27th, vs. Atlanta
Tuesday Dec 28th, @ Chicago
Things to Watch For :
The biggest thing to watch for is the pace of the game. In Jennings’ absence the tempo has been slowed greatly. Atlanta and Chicago are both upcoming opponents that run fast-style offenses. Atlanta makes it’s first appearance in town since defeating the Bucks in a playoff elimination game.
Match-up to Watch :
Jennings and Bulls point guard Derrick Rose would be been a great match-up to pay attention to. Instead look to see how his replacements, Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins hold up. Everything with Atlanta is fun to watch. The forward battle should be exciting, and keep an eye on Andrew Bogut vs. Hawks’ center Al Horford, one of the smarter young centers in the league.
Final Thoughts :
The season is only 33% through for the Bucks. Sitting 6.5 games behind the division leader is no big deal. There are still 4 games each among the other Central Division teams. One of those is coming up this week as Milwaukee hits the interstate on down to Chicago.The injury bug will probably be an excuse for a while, but Milwaukee built plenty of depth in the off-season to counter most setbacks. 6 games back by the end of December? 4 games back by the end of January? No, there is no formula for where they have to be. Getting back to .500 would be a start, and they team can start analyzing it’s future from there.
Milwaukee Brian’s Bucks Report runs from Wednesday-Tuesday and covers all the highlights, all the highs and lows of the 2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks season. Topics can be found at Pocket Doppler – The Wisconsin Sports Blog and Milwaukee Brian Sports