Wednesday, February 23, 2011

State of the Bucks - Week 18

 State of the Bucks - A Weekly Review and Preview of the Milwaukee Bucks' Previous and Upcoming Weeks

Last Week's Results:
vs. Denver, Lost 94-87
vs. Minnesota, Won 94-88

Welcome to the other side of the break! Since the All-Star break the Milwaukee Bucks are an impressive 1-0, though that came against one of the more pathetic teams in the NBA. They couldn't stop Minnesota's Kevin Love from continuing his near-record streak of double-doubles, but a win is a win. It's still sad to see former Buck Luke Ridnour in another team's jersey. He was the perfect tandem-guard for Coach Scott Skiles' system and worked well with Brandon Jennings. That's life.

Player of the Week:
Brandon Jennings had a rotten game on the front side of the break, going 1 for 11 and finishing with 3 assists and 4 points. Him and Bogut had the same problem in that good shots were just rolling out. But Jennings bounced back in the Timberwolves win, still struggling from distance but attacking the basket with tenacity and hitting 11 of 12 free throws and handing out 7 assists. He finally seemed comfortable on both sides of the court for the first time since returning from injury.

Other Standout Players:
Can't forget about John Salmons, who carried the team on his back for 46 of the 48 minutes vs. Denver. He put up 33 points but also only had 1 assist and took some forced, very sloppy shots in the final stretch.

Highlights of the Week:
The win at the start of the "unofficial" second half of the season could be a kick-start to the rest of the year, or it could be another game in which they lose the following few. But after some time off and any emotion coming from the return of veteran Michael Redd, getting a win was a good thing.

Disappointment of the Week
Andrew Bogut missed some stretches in the Minnesota game due to foul trouble, but contributed 7 points and 6 rebounds while he was in. His shooting was atrocious against the Nuggets, but like Jennings in the game, he had some good looks at the hoop but some bad rolls and bounces. Sometimes it's impossible to avoid those nights, and he still contributed 20 rebounds that night and 9 total blocks in the two games.

This Week's Games:

Wednesday Feb 23rd, @ New York
Saturday Feb 26th, vs. Chicago
Tuesday March 1st, vs. Detroit

Things to Watch For:
Get ready for the Carmelo train. Carmelo Anthony making his New York debut against Milwaukee puts him in a weird position where his last game for Denver and his first one for the Knicks both came against the Bucks. It wasn't just Anthony that moved from the Nuggets to the Knicks, but also Chauncey Billups, Sheldon Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman. Williams, Carter and Balkman did not play against the Bucks, but Anthony and Billups combined for 58 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists. Combine that with Amar'e Stoudemire and his average of 26 points and 9 rebounds per game and Milwaukee will have it's hands full. Luckily the new-look Knicks will have no practice time, which hopefully serves in the Bucks' favor.

Final Thoughts:
In their last 10 games, the Bucks have two different streaks of 3 losses. Can the next 10 games get any worse? Having a bunch of teams at home is a boost, but they have to get started now, no more excuses. No one ever likes playing division games, and Milwaukee has two this week. With 26 games left, Milwaukee is 3.5 games out of the 8th seed (for now vs. Boston) and 5 games out of the 7th spot (vs. Miami). Yes, both of those likely first-round exits are better than not making the playoffs. 

The NBA trade deadline comes this week, Thursday at 2pm CST to be exact. With plenty of teams in sell-off mode, perhaps General Manager John Hammond will find a way to get involved. Michael Redd's expiring $18 million could be the most attractive, but it all depends what the return is. There is a chance in the offseason to make a free agent splash with that cap room. That of course depends on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which like the NFL and MLB, expires at the end of the season.

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

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