State of the Bucks – A Weekly Review and Preview for the Milwaukee Bucks

 

Last Week’s Results :

– @ New York, W 100-86
– @ Miami, W 91-82
– vs. Atlanta, L 97-92

 

The Milwaukee Bucks are quite the enigma.

That’s probably an appropriate title for a team that began the season undefeated at home and winless on the road, only to reverse fortunes and now take its 3rd straight convincing road victory. In this late-Wednesday “State of the Bucks”, you saw all the ups and downs against the Houston Rockets as Milwaukee took 3 different leads of double digit points, only to lose all 3 of them at some point. In the end the only thing that mattered was the victory, the first time Milwaukee won in Houston since 1999.

Milwaukee was dominated by its defense as usual, but finally found some opportunities to put up points, a huge change from last season. No longer the worst shooting team in the NBA, the Bucks have been lead by Brandon Jennings and a mixed handful of contributors every night. The strength of their team is the depth from the bench, and it just now looks like they are playing as one cohesive group.

There is of course the matter of the schedule they play, which continues to run at a gruelingly difficult pace. More on that in a bit.

Player of the Week :

It was only a matter of time before we saw a repeat, as the honor of Player of the Week goes to Jennings. His scoring pace is near the top of the Eastern Conference, and while his shooting percentage is still a bit suspect, he’s a much more reliable offensive player than his first two years. His leadership on the court is finally becoming a big part of his game, and the 22-year old seems to be getting better and better with age.

Highlights of the Week :

There were a lot of sweet moments in the past week. Fans got the enjoyment of seeing Carmelo Anthony booted from the New York game after too much bickering with the Bucks. Milwaukee ramped up its energy against the Knicks late in the game to hold off a desperate rally. The same can be said about the Miami game; Milwaukee is used to surviving tough battles late.

The Bucks just aren’t a team that can hold significant leads. Prior to this week, Milwaukee was losing a lot of games in which they lead at some point by 10 or more. While they fought back a furious Miami rally, they had a big letdown at home against Atlanta. Perhaps the team can get fatigued with all the energy they expel on defense, but it helps that Skiles can constantly rotate in fresh players.

Offensively, Houston was completely helpless once Milwaukee starting hitting all its shots in the 4th quarter. No matter the effort Houston put in on the defensive side, the Bucks were in one of those zones where they couldn’t miss. A 10-point deficit late in the 3rd quarter quickly turned into a 17-point Bucks lead, and the closest Houston could get was 4 in the final minute.

Disappointment of the Week :

The Houston win was not without its scares: Andrew Bogut left late in the 1st quarter after rolling his ankle. He landed awkwardly on another player’s foot, was helped to the locker room, and didn’t return. It hopefully won’t cause him to miss too much time, but with the way they fought against Houston, they have to feel a lot of confidence. Sure, Milwaukee could have not made 14 three pointers and easily have lost the game, but that goes along with smart decisions on offense, as well as passing the ball effectively, something the Bucks have done well lately.

 

This Week’s Games :

– Wednesday Jan 25th @ Houston, W 105-99
– Friday Jan 27th, @ Chicago
– Saturday Jan 28th, vs. LA Lakers
– Monday Jan 30th, vs. Detroit

 

Final Thoughts :

The Bucks will now travel to Chicago for only their second division game of the season. In the next 10 days, they’ll play 4 division games, Chicago and Detroit each twice. Chicago is just getting back their star Derrick Rose after a stretch of missed games, and they’ve been facing some tough injury situations. Milwaukee will have to do its best to take advantage.

11 of the Bucks next 20 opponents have winning records, but they can’t be intimidated. Though the schedule does get easier at the end of the season, they have to get by now while playing gutsy basketball. Hanging with some of the usual powerhouse teams in the NBA would be great for the Bucks’ confidence, especially as they build together with another new group of players.

Player of the Week Count :

– Jennings (2)
– Leuer (1)
– Delfino (1)
– Bogut (1)