Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weekly Bucks Report

Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in. That's the feeling I've been having about the Bucks as they have quietly begun to put together a nice little season. Two Name tried to drag me to the BC this past weekend to scalp tickets to the Saturday game, and um...all I can say is...thank God we decided to watch it on the big screen.

The Weekly Bucks Report is published early every week at CH...written by a man known as Two Name.

The Milwaukee Bucks are experts at giving their fans a reality check. The latest came Saturday night when Detroit visited the Bradley Center.
This game appeared to be one the Bucks had a great chance of winning, putting the finishing touches on an outstanding couple weeks and a strong home performance to start the season. The Bucks had been playing their best basketball of the season. They were coming off three days of rest and riding a three-game winning streak – five consecutive at the BC.
Detroit, on the other hand, was playing without Richard Hamilton and needed an Allen Iverson buzzer-beater to top Oklahoma City – yes, a last-second win over the freaking Thunder of all teams – the previous night.
Chalk this one up for the Bucks, right? Apparently not. Just when you get your hopes up on this team, they bring you back to earth by laying the egg of all eggs. The Bucks turned in their worst offensive performance of the season, and for the first time all year, I had to question the judgment of coach Scott Skiles.
Milwaukee shot 30.4 percent from the field and only made eight baskets in the entire second half. Imagine going to that game … you just dropped 100 dollars to see eight balls go through the hope in the final 24 minutes – most coming in the fourth quarter with both squads’ B teams logging major minutes.
The Bucks got down 18 late in the third quarter, and Skiles pulled his starters. But he didn’t just sit them for the remainder of the third quarter. He left Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. I don’t know if Skiles watched the game, but things turned in the Pistons’ favor in a matter of minutes in the third.
In fact, Milwaukee was up 48-46 before missing everything they threw up at the basket. Why couldn’t things turn around quickly for the Bucks, like they did for the Pistons in the third quarter? The game could have turned around with Jefferson, Redd and Bogut on the floor. It won’t happen with Joe Alexander, Dan Gadzuric and Tyrone Lue out there together.
I don’t have a problem sitting your starters if they aren’t playing with energy. But simply missing shots is part of the game, and pros can snap out of those streaks in a hurry – like Detroit did in the third quarter. Bogut was the lone bright spot with 17 points and 10 rebounds (EN: He was only 6-15 on the night...not exactly mind blowing). Why didn’t he return to the game? I was confused, and I’m glad I didn’t pay money to see Gadzuric, Alexander, Francisco Elson, Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour finishing the game.
The most disappointing thing about Saturday was the quality of play that proceeded that game. The Bucks had won three straight, including an impressive win Tuesday against Utah. Plus, hitting the road to face San Antonio and Houston riding a four-game winning streak would have given this young team a great deal of confidence.
All that being said, the Bucks are three games under .500 and showing significant improvement. I just thought games like Saturday were a thing of the past. I guess not.

Redd alert: Redd had one of the worst performances of his career Saturday (4 points on 2-of-11 shooting, 0 for 4 from three-point range), and it got me thinking. Has his shooting actually gotten worse? I watched him hoist up 25 shots Tuesday against Utah – 1 of 9 from the three-point line – and Saturday was even harder to watch. Redd is shooting just under 41 percent this season. For his career, he is a 45 percent shooter. His three-point shooting is down 3.5 percent from his career numbers. So he is getting worse. If he can’t hit open shots – he missed a bunch of wide-open three-pointers against Utah and Detroit – what good is he?

Earning freebies: Bogut’s free-throw shooting is still bad, but it’s improving. He’s looking much more comfortable at the line, which is a big plus for the Bucks late in games. Bogut was shooting around 45-48 percent earlier this season, but now he’s around 57 percent. His career average is 59 percent, and he shot 63 percent from the line as a rookie. His form actually is pretty fluid, so I don’t know why he’s not shooting in the low 70s.

Player of the week: Luc Richard’s (EN: henceforth known as The Fresh Prince) numbers are down from the beginning of the year, but his hustle and rebounding was a bright spot against Detroit.

This week: Earning a split on the Texas trip might be wishful thinking, but Milwaukee usually plays well against the Spurs.

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