State of the Bucks – Week 10
State of the Bucks – A Weekly Review and Preview of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Previous and Upcoming Weeks
Last Week’s Results:
@ Sacramento, Won 84-79
vs. Atlanta, Lost 95-80
@ Chicago, Lost 90-77
Week 10?! Where has our season gone? I’ll check the trash bins outside, you check the drains in the bathroom.
We’ll start off this week with what is now officially the worst off-season move the Bucks made: not resigning Luke Ridnour. Every other move was done to fill the gaps between point guard Brandon Jennings and center Andrew Bogut. Drew Gooden and Jon Brockman were brought in to be serviceable power forwards and emergency centers, Corey Maggette was the answer to Milwaukee’s free throw problems, Chris Douglas-Roberts was the badly-needed athletic freak, and Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins are both reliable backups, that’s all. The 2, 3 and 4 positions are all flexible and can withstand most setbacks. But Jennings and Bogut are officially irreplaceable.
It will take more time to judge the rest of the off-season moves, but allowing Luke Ridnour to sign with another team is coming back to bite them immediately. For the minutes Ridnour played, he had a terrific season working alongside Jennings, taking over the team whenever coach Scott Skiles became frustrated with the rookie. The pace of the game never really suffered when Ridnour was in the game. Dooling right now provides smarts, experience, a decent shot, and the willingness to dive all over the floor. But Ridnour was better at all those things and was a perfect fit for the system Skiles runs.
During both of the losses this past week, the team spent too much time running high-screens and trying to create around the perimeter. Jennings’ (and Ridnour’s) absence leave the Bucks without a point guard who can consistently work around the hoop. Jennings still has 3-5 weeks until he is back on the court and Skiles is going to have to get really creative in the meantime.
Player of the Week:
We’ll stretch this out a bit and go with John Salmons, who had some great shooting against Atlanta to bring Milwaukee back in the game. Shooting has been atrocious in the two losses this week. As said often before, the lack of ball movement has a direct affect on what shots the team is taking.
Other Standout Players:
Nobody. We’d try to squeeze Bogut into this spot, but too many team’s big men are getting too many rebounds.
Disappointment of the Week:
Where to begin? After beating the Los Angeles Lakers last week, the Bucks went and snuck past the worst team in the league, the Sacramento Kings. As a sign of things to come, Milwaukee then struggled against two much better opponents, including a crucial division foe. They are 30 games in with 52 remaining. There is a lot left that must be done in order to become any kind of threat.
This Week’s Games:
Saturday Jan 1st, vs. Dallas
Tuesday Jan 4th, @ Miami
The way things are right now, if the Bucks’ last two performances carry over to the next two, there will have plenty of trouble on their hands. Dallas certainly hasn’t forgotten the 12-game winning streak that the Bucks snapped down in Texas. They are going to want some revenge and it might not be pretty for Milwaukee. And Miami finally decided to show up after all the hype in the off-season. The Heat have won 9 of their last 10 and have been dominant after a tough start to the season.
Things to Watch For:
Andrew Bogut! When will he get some help from the big guys around him? Drew Gooden desperately needs to get healthy because Larry Sanders just isn’t cutting it. Could this finally be Brian Skinner’s opportunity to be activated? It would be something to try if Skiles wants his team to win a rebounding battle every once in a while. ANYTHING would be better than nothing.
Beyond the rebounding issues, watch the Dallas game to see how the offense performs. If early on you notice a lot of players with feet glued to the floor, that’s a problem. If you see Earl Boykins with the ball at the top of the perimeter, and the rest of the team just flying past him, constantly setting that high-screen, high-screen, high-screen, with little to no ball movement, that’s a problem. Pass the ball, move around the court, and look for open, high-percentage shots.
Match-up to Watch:
Luc Mbah a Moute vs. LeBron James. Against Atlanta, Skiles sent a few people at Josh Smith but with no success. He finally gave up on that mess and just threw Mbah a Moute at him. One of the league’s best defenders, he usually gets the tough assignments. Against the Miami Heat, that will be no different. Depending on how Gooden is feeling, he could assist with Chris Bosh, which leaves Bogut free to do all the rest.
Again, what better time to start a stretch of wins than now? There is no time like the present. Lets hope 2011 treats the team better. Watch for some New Years Resolutions in the coming days.
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