The Bucks Ironic Promotional Giveaway
At Saturday night's game against the Denver Nuggets the Bradley Center turnstile operators were handing out rolled up posters. When you unrolled the poster it revealed a collage of Buck players with a superscript that read "2005-06 Bucks -- Buzzer Beaters" (shown above). It then went on to chronicle the Bucks series of last second victories. Nice little keepsake.
The poster was meant, I would suppose, to point out what an exciting team the Bucks are, perhaps even characterize them as a team of destiny. The irony, of course, is that the poster actually makes plain the most disturbing fact about the team's success-to-date -- their historically unprecedented and statistically improbable number of close wins.
Many Bucks fans have heard by now that the Bucks are the first team in NBA history to begin a season by winning their first 13 games decided by six points or less. What the team's public relations department doesn't seem to grasp is that the accomplishment is both impressive to Bucks Nation and at the same time extremely frightening. Bucks fans are smart people. They realize that had the team instead lost a statistically expected number of those games -- let's be generous and say 5 of the 13 -- then the team's outlook and image would be significantly different at this moment. In other words, had the the team's fortunes followed a far more statistically probable route, then its record would be a woeful 14-22 -- down there with the lowly New York Knicks.
Perhaps that's where the Bucks are headed. A few posts back, when the Bucks were a healthy 14-9, I warned Bucks fans that their actual winning percentage far exceeded their expected winning percentage as calculated by the historically reliable Pythagorean Method. With a heavy heart, but a sober mind, I predicted that a harsh correction was on its way. Regrettably, that prediction has thus far come true: the Bucks have since lost 8 out of 13 games (soon to be 9 out of 14 with a game in San Antonio tomorrow). And the worst may be yet to come. Consider the following:
If you look at the Bucks current point differential (Points Scored per game against Points Allowed per game), which is the number upon which the Pythagorean calculation hinges, it stands at a frightening -3.3. I bring this up because I thought the Bucks were in rough shape when I made my original dire prediction, and at that time the number was a mere -1.8.
It gets uglier. Such a miserable point differential puts the Bucks in some scary company. A quick look at the most statistically similar teams in each conference and you can see how fortunate the team is to be 19-17. To wit: in the Eastern Conference, the aforementioned New York Knicks have a slightly better point differential than the Bucks (-3.2), yet they have a much worse record (13-23). The awful Toronto Raptors have the exact same point differential as the Bucks (-3.3), and their record is even worse than the Knicks (13-25). In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets have a much better point differential (-2.8) and an even worse record than the Knicks or the Raptors (12-24). If present statistics hold, you don't have to be Nostradamus to predict the future direction of the Bucks. Downward.
So next time someone associated with the Bucks brags about their series of heart-stopping wins think about the numbers laid out above, and then think about this: the Bucks are 2-10 in games decided by 10 or more points, and have lost by 14 or more points in an astounding 8 games. Those numbers are so ugly, and as a diehard Bucks fan, frightening as hell.
The poster should have been titled "2005-06: Lucky Bucks".
Photos taken exclusively for Milwaukee Bucks Diary