If Bogut Plays...Good Things Happen
I've been saying all year, start Bogut, play him extended minutes, and run the offense through him. All three of those things happened at the Bradley Center and as a result the Bucks picked up one of their most astonishing victories in years, downing the perennial contenders the Dallas Mavericks in overtime, 113-110.
What makes this win, at this time, so special is the way it was achieved. This wasn't another lucky come-from-behind miracle win; this was a solid victory against an excellent team. The Bucks did not play in streaks, they went toe-to-toe from start to finish, and prevailed.
What can you say about Bogut? In so many different ways this was a watershed performance for the big man. He finally got 40 minutes, and he produced... big time. On offense, on defense, on the boards, in the clutch, he did it all, folks. I just love the way the guy plays. Channing Frye better than Bogut? Lets put that talk to bed. This guy is the intersection of intelligence, talent, and effort. He may not be supremely athletic, but was Larry Bird? Was Nate Thurmond? Was Bob Lanier? Great players all.
The Bucks are now at a crossroads. They can go one of two ways. They can continue the style of play they exhibited tonight, with Bogut as the focal point, a sort of Blazermania circa 1977 style of winning basketball, or they can simply go back to playing that ridiculous brand of ABA "hoist em' if you got em" basketball that they had been playing up to now with Michael Redd as the focal point. I submit to you that the former path is the road to a future championship, and the latter is the path to mediocrity.
At least one thing is clear: Bogut is a starter. He must start, and preferably at center. There is no way Jamaal Magliore should play more minutes than Andrew Bogut. No way.
What did I tell you? If TJ can hit his jumpers, as he did tonight, he is lethal. No one can stay in front of him if no one can afford to give him 6 feet of room on the perimeter. His jump shot opens up the world for him.
If he is missing that J however, he is lost, as he had been in the last couple of games. When teams don't respect his jump shot, they know he must drive and they can consequently funnel him to a point where their defense can collapse on the little guy.
The difference is so profound, its the absolute barometer of his effectiveness.
Is Michael Redd the Sterling Sharpe of the 2005-06 Milwaukee Bucks?
This game was quite enlightening. One of the early criticisms of the Bucks was that if Michael Redd did not carry the load the Bucks could not win. Perhaps the opposite is true. Perhaps the team can be more successful if Redd subordinates his role in the offense and allows the ball to flow more freely, rather than seeing himself as option 1, 2, and 3. Perhaps his overshooting was keeping the team from realizing their full potential, and thus inhibiting them from obtaining more victories.
In that sense, he may be the Sterling Sharpe of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Packers of the early 90s were so heavily reliant on getting the ball to wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, and he was such a tremendous talent, many assumed the team would be sunk without him. Quite the opposite was true. The Packers reached their true potential only after Sharpe retired. Sharpe's tremendous production was actually something of a detriment to the team; it made them one dimensional and kept them from discovering what they could be with a more well rounded attack.
Maybe that's what's going on with Redd and the Bucks. I know one thing. If they rely too much on Redd, they become a jumpshooting team -- ie a loser. If they work the ball to others, and more hopefully through Bogut, I think they can hang with anyone in this Association.
This was a win to savor!