State of the Bucks – Week 11
State of the Bucks – A Weekly Review and Preview of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Previous and Upcoming Weeks
Last Week’s Results:
vs. Dallas, Won 99-87
@ Miami, Lost 101-89
It’s hard to tell if the Bucks should feel disappointed about their loss at Miami. On one hand, the Bucks hung with them most of the way, held a halftime lead, and were within striking distance going into the 4th. On the other hand, the Heat have only lost once since late November and have clearly become “the team to beat.” That is, if anyone can beat them. All the rumors about team chemistry issues, coaching changes, etc, become non-factors when you win 19 of 20 games. With all the talent they picked up in the off-season, Dwayne Wade has slowly reclaimed the role as go-to guy for Miami. It’s hard to take much from that game when it’s suddenly easier to beat the Connecticut Women’s team than it is to beat the Miami Heat. (if you didn’t know about UConn’s recently-snapped 90 game winning streak, where have you been?)
Player of the Week:
John Salmons gets the nod here for the second straight week. No he didn’t have a terrific shooting week, but it wasn’t bad either. A bit above average. He carried the scoring load when no one else would, and also lead the team in assists for the week. An average 19.5 points, 5 rebounds and 5.5 assists makes for a good stretch.
Other Standout Players:
Andrew Bogut is back to making 50% of his shots. The only problem: he isn’t getting enough shots! Bogut took a total of 22 shots against Dallas and Miami, and that is unacceptable. He spends too much time up at the top of the key setting high-screens for the point guard (we’ve ranted about the high-screen before), which was a successful strategy in beating Dallas. But it’s a terrible strategy to rely on every day. It fails against faster, more athletic teams like Atlanta and Miami, and is a direct reason why Milwaukee lost last night.
Highlights of the Week:
Sadly, having two basketball games and not losing both of them, has become the highlight of the week.
Disappointment of the Week:
Chris Douglas-Roberts seems to be in over his head suddenly. Every time he sliced in towards the basket against Miami (especially late in the game), he had no luck. The Heat’s defense seemed well-prepared to collapse around CDR, but that became easy for them because no one else was doing anything. Once again the team became doomed by the fact that their feet got glued to the floor, assists were down as a team, and they failed to move the ball to get good open shots.
This Week’s Games:
Wednesday Jan 5th, @ Orlando
Friday Jan 7th, vs. Miami
Saturday Jan 8th, @ New Jersey
Tuesday Jan 11th, @ Atlanta
The term hasn’t been used in a while, but can we call the New Jersey game “winnable”? They are in fact only 9-25, which doesn’t always tell the whole story, but it is what it is. General Manager John Hammond said before the Heat game that Carlos Delfino has been getting some shooting exercise on the court lately, and Drew Gooden could be back in a week. Brandon Jennings has missed about 2-3 weeks, and ideally has 2-3 left before he returns. Hopefully they can find a way to carry on until they are healthy again.
Things to Watch For:
You’re probably sick of reading about the same inconsistencies, but those same problems still linger. The magic that lead to the Bucks big run last season started and ended with Andrew Bogut. He surprised defenses who allowed him to take shots up to the 20-foot range, and he tore up in every one-on-one matchup in the paint. When Bogut would get double-teamed, he would kick it out to any open shooter. Really, when you have a player like Bogut, it becomes simple Basketball 101. The team is still shooting a league-low 41%, so perhaps that is forcing the Bucks to explore other strategies. Sadly those strategies are failing miserably and the team needs to go back to the basics.
Match-up to Watch:
Remember the Orlando game a few weeks ago when half their team was sick, including perennial Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard? That is not the case this time, and unless coach Scott Skiles changes his team’s pace, and runs his offense and defense through Bogut, there is no chance Milwaukee can win this game. Bogut needs to become physical again and work to overpower players in the area around the basket.
Since we continue to claim we are not in the business of predicting game results, we’ll stick to some theories and possibilities. Against Orlando, it’s very likely that Andrew Bogut will be the focal point, as he should be for every game. If coach Skiles’ game plan against the best center in the league is to send his two backup point guards at him, Skiles might want to stop on the way home for some résumé paper.
Assuming the Bogut-centric plan happens, it would be safe to assume that carries over into the weekend against Miami and New Jersey. Atlanta is next Tuesday, but that is way too far away to discuss. Milwaukee has so much on it’s plate as of now, they just need to focus on playing physical basketball. Put on your muscle suits and get ready to smash around.
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