The Weekly Bucks Report is posted every Tuesday on Chuckie Hacks, written by the best former sportswriter in the business, a man known in certain circles as Two Name.
The Milwaukee Bucks are about to enter what could be a turning point in the relatively young NBA season. Unfortunately, the next seven games also could spell doom for this inexperienced squad.
Five of the next six games for the Bucks are on the road, including two on the West coast, which always has been troublesome for Milwaukee. The East coast portion of the upcoming trip is a bit more promising, but the Bucks need to stay afloat the next two weeks or else they will have dug a hole that might prove to be too deep. The one home game in that stretch isn’t easy either, when Indiana comes to town Saturday.
Milwaukee’s two home victories last week were crucial for two reasons: One, the Bucks defeated two teams they can and should beat regularly – Chicago and Charlotte, respectively. And two, both games were played at the Bradley Center, a building with low electricity bills the first two months of the NBA campaign, thanks to the Bucks’ travels.
The Bucks travel to Phoenix and Golden State Tuesday and Wednesday, host Indiana Saturday and head to Miami, Philadelphia and New York the following week. Milwaukee can’t afford to finish 1-5 the next two weeks, which is a realistic possibility. The Bucks will beat the Knicks, but none of those other games can been considered locks. Indiana should be a win because it’s at home, but I fear the Bucks’ record might be a lot uglier after the next six games.
That being said, it’s still pretty early in the season and the schedule will balance itself out, and the Bucks are just outside the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. No reason for playoff talk, but the point is, the Bucks are within shouting distance right now, but dropping nine games under .500 with a poor performance the next six games would be very deflating.
Boards equal victories: Looking at the Bucks’ wins and losses, the one stat that stands out is rebounding. In its wins, Milwaukee is averaging 48 rebounds per game. In losses, the Bucks are grabbing only 40 boards. The importance of rebounding was never more evident than Friday night against the Bobcats. While the Bucks went cold and allowed Charlotte back in the game late, second-chance points proved to be the difference. With Andrew Bogut out against Cleveland at the end of November, the Cavs pounded the Bucks on the boards by double digits and Milwaukee was never in the game, despite the final score. Rebounding starts with strong defense, so it’s no surprise the Bucks’ wins are reflected on the glass.
Redd in rotation: Mike Redd returned to the starting lineup after what seemed like a year-long hiatus due to his ankle injury suffered in New York on Nov. 2. Redd played decent off the bench in his return from injury against Cleveland Nov. 29, struggled against Chicago Wednesday and scored 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting against Charlotte on Friday. Say what you want about the guy, the Bucks need him on the court for the rest of the players to be effective. The threat of his shot does impact the potential of his teammates and how defenses attack the Bucks.
Player of the week: Why not give it to Danny G. The guy is hustling non-stop, and his effort led to positive results against Chicago last week. With Bogut leaving after taking an elbow to the head, Gadzuric stepped in and finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds in only 21 minutes. He shot 4-5 from the field and made 3-5 free throws. If he could give the Bucks even half of this production every night, Danny G would be a nice backup center.
This week: Bucks will struggle at Phoenix and Golden State, but need to beat the Pacers at home on Saturday.