Bucks Diary

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Disappearance of Richard Hamilton

The one truly puzzling aspect of the Pistons-Bucks first round series has been the play of Detroit SG Richard Hamilton. He has been way off his game.

What makes this development truly strange is that coming into this series he is the man we most feared. The Bucks really have no answer for him. In fact, by asking the diminutive TJ Ford to guard him, the Bucks have almost been conceding points to the 6'7'' Hamilton. Yet he hasn't produced them.

In Eff48 terms, he ranks 68th out of the 94 players participating in the Eastern Conference playoffs. His Eff48 average thus far is an embarrasing 14.77. To illustrate how bad that is, consider that Andrew Bogut, a player who has looked completely lost in his first postseason appearance, has compiled an Eff48 average of 16.24.

Perhaps the reason for his poor production is the energy he has expended defending Bucks G Michael Redd. But the results of that effort have been decidedly mixed. After being held down in Game One, Redd has gone wild in Games Two and Three, utterly destroying Hamilton's defense. Last night Redd only needed 21 shots to amass 40 points. The Pistons must be glad Redd resigned with the Bucks instead of going to team with LeBron in Cleveland. He looks like the Detroit Strangler so far.

Game 3 was the gathering of a perfect storm

We have long maintained that for the Bucks to win a game in this series they would have to play "out of their asses" and the Pistons would have to play pedestrian basketball. We didn't see it happening, especially with the Pistons being so battle tested in the postseason play. But, Saturday night at the Bradley Center, it did happen. Essentially we saw the gathering of a perfect storm. Here's why it came together.

The Pistons had been sleepwalking through the first two games, yet collected easy victories in each. They could not possibly have been keyed up for Game Three. They certainly weren't.

The Bucks, on the other hand, had been disrespected and ridiculed by so-called NBA experts in a manner I haven't seen before. TNT flashed a graphic showing the Pistons already advanced to the second round. Charles Barkley, the Stepin Fetchit of NBA television commentary, was particularly cruel in his mockery of Milwaukee. ESPN's Greg Anthony, a former Buck, declared that the Bucks would not win a game. Its no wonder their mouths were foaming like rabid dogs last night. The Bucks were ready to play.

Even so, the results from last night were astonishing. In a head-to-head comparison of each team's top 7 players, six Bucks outplayed their Piston counterparts (in Eff48 terms). The lone exception was the Bogut-Wallace matchup, which Wallace won. The Bucks had four players score over 40 Eff48 points, with three scoring Chamberlin-like +50's. I never thought I would see that against Detroit. A remarkable achievement.

By contrast, the Pistons were either mediocre or awful. Three Piston starters had really horrendous nights: Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace. Hamilton was so bad he didn't even register an Eff48 score at all (his only positive stats were 12 points and those were completely offset by 2 turnovers and 10 missed field goals). Prince was pretty bad too. In 37 minutes of action, he barely made a mark. This is less surprising, though. We've long maintained Prince is overrated. If you treat him roughly, as the Bucks did Saturday, he will back down. He is the one Piston the Bucks should never allow themselves to be beaten by.

Here are the comparative numbers:


TJ Ford: 43.20
Chauncey Billups: 31.13


Michael Redd: 54.85
Richard Hamilton: 00.00


Jamaal Magliore: 26.48
Ben Wallace: 6.62


Bobby Simmons: 13.71
Tayshaun Prince: 3.89


Andrew Bogut: 11.07
Rasheed Wallace: 22.66

Sixth Man:

Joe Smith: 52.57
Antonio McDyess: 38.40

Seventh Man:

Mo Williams: 55.99
Lindsey Hunter: 48.00


This is the happiest Milwaukee Bucks Diary entry ever written. Bucks Nation stand up and be proud! You can show your faces in public again. We have taken one from the Pistons!

In one of the most astonishing uprisings in professional basketball history, the Milwaukee Bucks, left for dead by almost everyone with an opinion in the sportsworld, blew out the mighty Detroit Pistons, 124-104, at the Bradley Center last night -- Saturday, April 29, 2006, a date that Bucks fans will long remember.

Led by their max contract star, Michael Redd, who poured in a mindbending 40 points, and a rejuvenated bench, which included F Toni Kukoc and a resurrected Mo Williams, the Bucks gave the Pistons no room to breath. First they staggered the lumbering giant, taking a seven point lead into the locker room. Then they delivered the coup de grace to open the second half. After an incredible, gravity-defying 23-3 run to open the second frame, the Pistons were essentially finished. Good night, Blue and Red.

The proud Detroiters looked stunned. It was as if they could not believe what had hit them. I'll tell them: it was a freight train named desire being driven by Bucks Pride. The Bucks wanted this game much more than the Pistons did. Its that simple. The destruction was so complete and so merciless it forced Detroit coach Flip Saunders to capitulate with over three minutes left in the game. An incredible sight.

We are back on serve now. Look for more insight on this incredible win in the next few hours.

Friday, April 28, 2006

ESPN Page 2 perpetuates the Nowitzki Myth

Here at Milwaukee Bucks Diary, we are dedicated to mythbusting. At least Bucks myths. And by far the greatest myth in Bucks history is the myth that the Bucks traded Dirk Nowitzki for Robert "Tractor" Traylor. Its simply not true, but because a cursory look at the facts makes it appear true, and because its a far better tale than the truth, the lazy and irresponsible continue to retell it.

This time the mistaken party is David Schoenfield of ESPN.com's Page 2 in his article "The 100 Worst Draft Picks Ever". His misconstruing of the facts is a more egregious offense than normal, however, because he is relying on the myth as the sole basis for his preposterous claim that the Tractor Traylor draft choice was the 6th worst draft choice of all-time in any sport. Its a ridiculous assertion

SIDEBAR: Schoenfield's article appears to have an anti-Bucks bias. When it cites the Stephon Marbury draft choice as the 50th worst pick of all time, he credits the Bucks with making the pick. OK, fair enough, the Bucks did technically make the pick. However, if he's going to do that, he can't also then credit the Bucks with selecting Traylor at no. 6 -- the Mavericks technically selected him at 6. You have to be consistent. The Bucks traded Marbury in the same manner that the Mavericks traded Traylor. No difference. But Schoenfeld decided to treat the two picks differently, presumably to credit the Bucks with both picks. Or else he's just incredibly reckless with the facts.

Now to the myth. Here's how the whole deal ACTUALLY went down. In the 1998 draft the Dallas Mavericks selected No. 6 while the Bucks selected No. 9 and No. 19. Don Nelson of the Mavericks wanted Nowitzki very badly. He had no interest in Traylor. However, recognizing that Nowitzki would probably be available at a lower slot than 6, he rightly believed he could make a trade that would not only net him Nowitzki, but also get him a little something extra. That's just good drafting strategy.

The Bucks were perfectly situated for Nelson. No. 9 was about as low as Nelson could reasonably go if he still wanted to be fairly certain of getting Nowitzki, and it just so happened the Bucks had that extra pick, so they had something to offer. And Nelson knew the Bucks had an interest in Tractor Traylor. So Nelson approached the Bucks with the promise to draft Traylor at 6 for the Bucks if the Bucks promised to draft Nowitzki at 9 and Pat Garrity at 19. They did. The trade was made.

Here is the important point no one seems to understand or care about. HAD THE BUCKS NOT AGREED TO THE TRADE, THE MAVERICKS WOULD HAVE SELECTED NOWITZKI AT NO. 6. THUS, AT NO TIME DID THE BUCKS EVER HAVE NOWITZKI NOR DID THEY EVER EVEN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE NOWITZKI. The Bucks can be faulted for drafting Traylor, sure, but they cannot be legitimately slammed for trading Nowitzki, because they never actually had him. If you understand that the Bucks never had Nowitzki, I really don't think you can call drafting Tractor Traylor the sixth worst pick of all-time. The only player the Bucks really passed up for Traylor was Paul Pierce. That was bad, but it wasn't any worse than Denver drafting Raef Lafrentz at No. 3. They ACTUALLY passed on Nowitzki.

So you see how Schoenfield's ranking of the Traylor pick is based completely on a lie. I think its journalistically irresponsible for him to repeat the lie. He needs to do some more research before he compiles his little lists.

Pistons-Bucks series as seen by 82games.com

I just checked out 82games.com's playoff coverage. For those uninitiated, 82games is best known for featuring the "On/Off Court" statistic. This tracks how a team does with each individual player On the Court vs. when that player is Off the Court.

Well, their numbers were eye-opening. Just as I suspected (and stated in one of my live blogs), the Bucks are doing much better with Redd on the bench. The difference is -33 points. Guess who else is killing Milwaukee. Bogut! His On/Off numbers are just as bad as Redd's. The best among the Bucks who have had significant minutes is Charlie Bell (+25) followed by TJ Ford (+16).

For the Pistons, the best "On/Off" numbers belong to Rasheed Wallace with a whopping +51. Let's face it, he's eating Bogut's lunch for him and then stealing his lunch money to boot. Its such a mismatch. The second best is the self-appointed MVP Chauncey Billups. He's at +43. Maybe he is the catalyst.

FOOTNOTE: If you asked me beforehand who I thought the best Piston would be, I would have bet the farm on McDyess. He has impressed the shit out of me. I was stunned to learn he had a -9 score. In my mind this calls into question somewhat the probative value of the "On/Off" statistic.

Bad Boys Will be Back

In our little world there are two sources of basketball knowledge we consider indispensable. Sam over at 5-Point Bucks and the guys at detroitbadboys.com (Would that constitute three sources? Whatever, you get what we mean). There are plenty of sites we enjoy, but we consider those two blackletter.

So you can understand why we became a little concerned when we went to dbb.com and got nothing. Concerned phone calls were exchanged among Diary writers ("Did you go to Bad Boys? Its not there!"). Well, if there's one thing were known for its an overreaction. We have it first hand (from Ian) that the Bad Boys are just having some annoying server problems and will be back up shortly. Fans of the site can relax.

As long as were on the topic of dbb.com, if you happen to still be a Stotts defender, you won't be once you see the picture the Bad Boys dragged up of ole' Terr in his younger days. All were going to say is it was none too manly.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Forgotten Man

What must you be thinking if you are Bucks C Dan Gadzuric? In terms of productive efficiency in the 2005-06 regular season, he was the Bucks leader. And it was no fluke. He has been quite productive his entire career. His Eff48 numbers have been in the 26.0-28.0 range every season he has played in the Association. Yet he can't seem to get any respect from Bucks fans or from the Bucks coaching staff. He has become Milwaukee's Forgotten Man.

Despite the fact that the Bucks frontline has been thoroughly whipped by the Pistons frontline, Gadzuric has not gotten one meaningful minute in these playoffs. The reason why eludes me. At first I thought maybe he was sitting because he struggles against the Pistons, but his Eff48 is a robust 24.72 against Detroit this year. While certainly not great, those numbers make him the second most productive Buck vs. Detroit behind only Michael Redd. And those numbers are much better than the numbers put up by Joe Smith, Andrew Bogut, and Jamaal Magliore. Yet all Gadzuric has had the opportunity to produce this series has been splinters in his ass.

I'm not saying Gadzuric would have made a dime's worth of difference in the outcome of the first two games, all I am saying is he deserves better treatment from Terry Stotts than he has gotten thus far in the postseason. Bucks Diary thinks its time for him to get his warmup suit off prior to garbage time. He's earned it.

Pistons bench dominating the Bucks

The Bucks' coaching staff keeps babbling about the advantage their bench gives them over the Pistons. Looking at the Eff48 numbers from Game Two, you have to reply to this comment by saying "Huh?" The Pistons bench, led by F Antonio McDyess, has been awesome. All three of the significant reserves for Detroit tallied in the mid thirties to low forties last night. Mcdyess has been absolutely unstoppable. Lindsay Hunter has been quite productive, too. Awesome numbers all around.

The Bucks bench, on the other hand, has been middling at best. Even the usually reliable G Charlie Bell, who posted mid twenties Eff48 numbers against Detroit this season, was lousy last night. I won't say the Pistons' bench has been the "X factor" in this series, because the results probably would have been the same had the Pistons only suited up their first five, but the Pistons' bench production has certainly kept the games from being competitive. Check out the Game Two numbers. (Bear in mind that the top players in Eff48 terms this season averaged around a 34 score):

Pistons Reserves (Game Two)

Antonio Mcdyess 41.73
Lindsay Hunter 36.92
Maurice Evans 34.90

Bucks Reserves (Game Two)

Mo Williams 19.99
Joe Smith 20.86
Charlie Bell 7.38

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Where is the Bucks playoff intensity?

I knew the Bucks probably wouldn't win either of the first two games in Detroit. I guessed that neither game was likely to be competitive. Those things haven't surprised me. What has surprised me is the Bucks' attitude in those games. I thought for sure they would play them with passion and intensity. They have not. In fact, if you were in a coma for a couple of weeks and started watching either of the games while they were in progress, I'll bet you would have thought you were watching a regular season game.

It doesn't add up. These are the play-offs. The Bucks are the prohibitive underdogs. The Bucks should be breathing fire, right? I guess not.

It shows most on defense. No playoff team should give up lay-ups or uncontested jump shots on defense. The Pistons have gotten a lot of those from the Bucks. The most disturbing example of this is the way Tayshaun Prince, the world's tallest featherweight, goes across the lane unmolested for easy finger roll layups. The Bucks have to punish him when he gets in the lane. No more easy chances. Its all about attitude.

Live Blog: End of Third Quarter Game Two

Mo Williams appears to be out, probably for the series. Will anyone notice?... See what a difference it makes when Simmons gets aggressive? When he stepped up there in the middle of the third, the Bucks almost got back into it. Then he just slinked back into the shadows... The Bucks are getting no offense in the post. None... Again, too many three point looks are completely uncontested. Do they need to triple team the penetrator? Challenge the drive, but don't overreact. The Pistons will burn you... This is the laziest playoff game I've ever seen. No intensity from either team.

Live Blog: Halftime Game Two

Will someone please play defense on Tayshaun Prince? The guy is an extremely limited offensive player, and we are making him look like Connie Hawkins... The Bucks must abide the cardinal rule of the play-offs: NO LAYUPS! They can't let Prince stride down the lane for finger rolls... The Bucks also have to adjust their defense and stay with the three point shooters. Way too many wide open looks... The transition defense has been horrible... Bogut is an exceptional passer. He looks like a skinny Sabonis... Redd is getting his tonight, but did you notice the Bucks cut the lead to 39-37 with him on the bench? He doesn't get anyone else involved... Charlie Bell has been excellent... Magliore's shots aren't terrible, they just don't go in. It reminds me of one of those rigged hoop games where the ball is too big for the hole... This game is virtually over. Maybe the Bucks have one more run in them. They better make it count.

Live Blog: End of First Quarter Game Two

The Bucks are in the danger zone. The Pistons backcourt is having a much better game, consequently, Detroit is shooting lights out. If the Bucks don't change this, the game will be over in the next 10 minutes guaranteed. Redd looks much better, but he is still forcing. He had a 3 on 2 break, both wings open, yet he kept the ball and committed an offensive foul. We can't let Prince get off. He's not that good. Telling stat: Bucks have only 4 assists, 2 from PF Andrew Bogut.

Pistons-Bucks Game Two Preview

If we ever needed Don Nelson, now is it. The Bucks clearly cannot stand toe-to-toe with the Detroit Pistons and hope to even be competitive. Sure, the Pistons will allow them to hang around for awhile, but, make no mistake -- its only at their discretion. As soon as they choose to play Piston basketball, vhooom, they're gone and the Bucks are left to suck their dust trail.

So the Bucks need to get creative. They can't just trot their usual five starters out onto the court. That hasn't worked. It won't work tonight. Why not have the courage to try something different, even wacky?

For instance, go three guard right from the start; it will get Bogut off Rasheed Wallace. That matchup has been a disaster for Milwaukee. Bogut is not equipped to guard the perimeter game Wallace favors. Having played the 5 all his life, Bogut has no idea what to do on that little "pick and pop" play that Detroit ran continuously on Sunday. Bogut's instinct is to sink into the lane on that action, leaving Wallace ALL ALONE for three point shots. Enough of that.

Stotts should just concede that the Bucks bigs cannot hang with the Pistons big and sit either Bogut or Magliore, replacing him with G Charlie Bell. With the new lineup, Simmons would be on Rasheed Wallace, and Bell would be on Tayshaun Prince. That's not as bad for the Bucks as it might seem at first blush. Bell is a very aggressive and strong defender. He will not be easy for Prince to abuse, despite the height difference. And, Simmons will be better suited to guarding Wallace because Wallace, despite his size, features more of a small forward's game. I don't think Rasheed likes squatting in the box at all.

Beyond that I would even try a four guard lineup with Mo Williams replacing Simmons. Remember, Michael Redd is 6'6''. He can function in much the same manner as Simmons.

All I know for certain is that Stotts cannot go with his routine lineup. It won't work. If he does he's as big a dolt as everyone has been saying.

FOOTNOTE: Coming into this game, I'm somewhat concerned about TJ Ford guarding Richard Hamilton. Hamilton was unable to exploit this matchup in Game One, but common sense says at some time or another he should be able to go wild against the smaller Ford. Watch out for that.

Thank you Michael Hunt

I was about to sit down and pound out one of my typical Mad Bucks Fan rants regarding the way the Bucks players have been whining about foul calls lately. Its a complete embarrasment to the franchise and to all the citizens of the dwindling land known as Bucks Nation. I see, however, Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel summarized the feelings of myself and many Bucks fans with this article, so I'll just second him and leave it at that.

I will say this in parting, though. Bucks fans have had it with this team. I'm not just talking about me, I'm talking about many season ticketholders and long time Bucks fans who are disgraced by the team's lack of effort and intensity and now manhood. Its too much.

After this latest incident, my days of defending Terry Stotts are over. I've been taking shit on his behalf long enough. No more. He better show some ingenuity or at least a little creativity in this series or his days as an NBA coach are over.

And I don't want to hear about Bobby Simmons little owwies either. Get on the goddamn court and play like a man. Earn a little of that ridiculous contract, Mr. Most Disappointing Player. I'm so pissed, I better just stop writing right now. I'll post a preview of Game Two by tomorrow afternoon, if I cool down by then.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Difference between Redd and Allen

As long as Bucks G Michael Redd plays professional basketball in Milwaukee, he will be compared to the man he essentially replaced: Walter Ray Allen. In many respects the two are identical players. Both are known for their scoring. Both feature the three point shot. Both shoot about the same percentage. Both are essentially one-dimensional. Neither cares to play defense. Both received maximum contracts. Allen's career Eff48 is a little better than Redd's, but not substantially so.

Where Allen distinguishes himself as the clearly superior player is in the postseason. In 37 playoff games, Allen has been spectacular. He has not only matched his regular season production, like a true superstar he has raised it. His playoff Eff48 of 27.36 is nearly two points higher than his regular season Eff48. When the bright lights shine, so does Sugar Ray.

Redd, on the other hand, has been atrocius. In 12 playoff games he has now logged an abysmal Eff48 of 15.50, nearly 8 points lower than his regular season mark. He has shown a tendency toward amateurish decisionmaking and very poor shot selection. He forces the issue in a way no All-Star caliber player ought to do.

The bottom line is he can be shut him down. And when he is, he has nothing left to offer. He's a 90 million dollar detriment. If Redd can't score he's just another guy out on the court, taking up space. All this was foreseeable and should have been factored into the salary Redd was offered by the team. Clearly it was not. You can't pay a one-dimensional player maximum money. This decision may haunt the Bucks for years to come, because they are stuck with Redd, and he has shown he can't take them anywhere.

Guest Post from Detroitbadboys.com

Like Terry Stotts at crunch time, I completely messed up. I did a guest post for detroitbadboys.com, but I didn't think they were going to return the favor. (This proves the value of actually opening emails that are sent to you. Sorry, Ian. Won't happen again). A thousand pardons to the good people at detroitbadboys. For the record, this post was written prior to Game One, and should have been posted then. (Notice how prescient they turned out to be on point one!) Straight out of Detroit, here it is:

5 Points about the Pistons: A Primer for Bucks fans prior to the start of Round One

Rasheed Wallace can be as dominant as he wants to be.

It's hard to defend against a seven-footer draining threes at the top of the key... but it's easy to generate a ton of fast break points when a seven-footer is bricking shots and setting up the guards on the run with long rebounds. Rasheed's 434 three-point attempts (117 more than his previous career high) ranked ninth in the league, but his .357 percentage of makes ranked just 65th among NBA players who made at least 55 three-pointers. All too often Rasheed favors the quantity over quality approach, which frustrates Pistons fans to no end but should help make the game entertaining for Bucks fans.

But when Rasheed does get the ball down low, watch out. With his length, there aren't very many players in the league who can stop his turnaround jumper, where he releases the ball with a flick of the wrist with his arms fully extended. When he's at home, listen for the fans: when he gets the ball on the low post, you'll hear the crowd let out a deep "Sheeeeeed!" As if on cue, Rasheed almost always shoots the ball after hearing the crowd call his name. It's uncanny.

Watch out Bogut!

Ben Wallace is superhuman...on defense

Ben is a man of few words. But when he has spoken out to the press this year, it's often been out of frustration of not being more involved with the offense. No one on the team commands more respect than Ben, and his teammates often try to throw him a bone by getting him the ball early in the game. Sometimes it works, like when Rip Hamilton throws him a perfect alley-oop. Other times, no so much -- like when he tries a little spin move to the basket only to dribble the ball off his foot, or when he attempts an awkward jumper from the high post that barely grazes the rim.

It wouldn't be accurate to say Ben has no business touching the ball on offense -- after all, he led the league (again) in offensive boards this year. But while Ben's the heart and soul of this team on defense, things go a lot more smoothly on the other end when his offensive touches are limited to rebounds, put-backs, and alley-oops.

Tayshaun Prince will take over for periods of time...then disappear.

Perhaps that statement isn't entirely fair, as Prince's defense usually remains fairly consistent the entire game. But it's a little frustrating for Pistons fans how quickly he can go from dominating on offense one quarter to not getting any significant shot attempts the next. Prince stands 6-9 at a waif-like 215 pounds, but he has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, which makes him extremely dangerous when he drives the lane for baby hook or comes out of nowhere to slam home an oop from Rip or Chauncey.

Why does he disappear? Hell if we know. Perhaps he's too timid to demand the ball, or perhaps he just tires after expending so much energy on defense. Whatever the reason, it's going to happen at some point this series, as Prince rarely strings together a whole dollar (four quarters, get it?) on offense.

Yeah, Chauncey's cocky. But he deserves to be (especially this year).

For those of you sleeping on Chauncey Billups as a legit MVP candidate (or laughing at use of Chauncey Billups as his publicity firm), consider that Chauncey's 4.11 assist-to-turnover ratio is tops in the league by a good margin and far beyond Steve Nash's 2.99 (which ranks a mere 10th in the league). It is hard to argue against those who claim that the Pistons could still succeed without Chauncey -- the team is built so that no one piece is more important than the whole. But I would submit to you that the difference between the good Piston teams of '03-04 and '04-05, and this great Piston team of '05-06, is the emergence of Chauncey as a dominant individual performer. Put him in charge of the Suns offense, and he's a 25 and 12 a night guy, hands down. Also, per his recent MVP comments and how they are being perceived: when asked to choose, Chauncey picked himself for MVP over a number guys around the league also thought to be candidates. But when asked, he has repeatedly stated that Rasheed is the Pistons' MVP.

Also, on Billups, we know Bucks fans are familiar with quality perimeter play, but trust us, Chauncey is a bit of an anomaly. On the season, Chauncey has shot 43% from three -- better than any of the Bucks' impressive shooters -- but his two-point percentage is under 41%. He's actually more comfortable beyond the arc and often chooses to dish once he gets close to the paint (he's averaging 8.6 dimes on the season, almost a full 3 more than his previous season high).

Richard Hamilton just keeps getting better

Piston fans were a little weary when the team's top scorer in '01-02, Jerry Stackhouse, was shipped to the Wizards in exchange for Rip Hamilton. But he quickly established himself as a lethal midrange shooter, and is an integral part of the best starting five in basketball. Up until this season, you could always expect endless energy and a consistent 17-18 points a night from Rip, but he could be frustrated by athletic, on-ball defenders like Bruce Bowen or Ron Artest who would get around picks and force Rip into jumpers slightly outside of his range.

Defenders are finding it a bit more difficult to limit Hamilton this season though, since Rip decided to add the 3-point shot to his repertoire. The results? He led the league in three-point shooting at almost 46% (he shot only 31% last season). And he's shooting a silly 49% from the field overall. As you may have guessed, we're not second guessing that Stackhouse trade. Once again, the lesson is: Joe Dumars is infallible.

For full Bucks-Pistons coverage read detroitbadboys

I meant to post this on Sunday, but forgot. If you want to get a full account of the Bucks-Pistons playoff series I highly recommend detroitbadboys.com. Excellent, excellent stuff. They cover the series from the perspective of Piston Nation. I guarantee you will come away impressed. Those guys know their basketball, and they know how to write. Check it out.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bucks Numbers Truly Ugly

Someone once told me that when it came to evaluating basketball you should never trust your eyes. Sunday night was a prime example of that. Had you asked me after the game, I would have told you Bogut played pretty well and that TJ Ford was okay. If you asked me who played the best I probably wouldn't have said Jamaal Magliore.

Yet when you evaluate each player's production by their Eff48 numbers, the only player who had an exceptional game was Magliore. He really stepped up. Charlie Bell was right at his season average, and Joe Smith was at least within shouting distance of his. Everyone else was awful.

In fact, the Bucks point guard tandem of TJ Ford and Mo Williams barely even recorded an Eff48 score (Williams played 13 minutes and didn't have a score). Since Eff48 is a combined statistic, that's very hard to do. When I computed their numbers I kept thinking of Dean Wormer reading off the Delta House GPA: "Daniel Day Simpson... has no grade point average. Blutarsky... ZERO POINT ZERO!" Obviously, the team has room for improvement. Here are the brutal calculations, in descending order. ( If you need a reference when it comes to Eff48 numbers, take a look here at each player's season numbers.)

Magliore 27.42
Bell 19.99
Smith 18.46
Bogut 13.43
Simmons 10.18
Redd 8.0
Ford 1.45
Williams 0.00

Why won't Simmons attack the rim?

If you've ever seen Bucks SF Bobby Simmons up close, you might confuse him for an NFL Tight End. The guy is a house. So why does he play so passively? The Bucks need him to grow a set of cahones (sp?), and I mean right now.

Take a look at the box score from Game One of the Bucks-Pistons play-off series. Neither team shot very well at all. The difference in the game: free throws. The Pistons made 24 free throws. The Bucks attempted a mere 10. The Bucks need someone who is willing to attack the rim. Simmons should be that guy.

In order to get to the free throw line in the NBA, however, you have to be willing to accept punishment. You need some courage. Piston players have it. Consider that Pistons G Richard Hamilton, who looks as though he has to dance around in the shower just to get wet, made more free throws than the entire Bucks team attempted. He is clearly not afraid.

Compare that to Simmons. Simmons, who is twice Hamilton's size, played 33 minutes, took eight shots, made only 2, and never once got to the free throw line. Sure, Simmons is not alone. Of the Bucks' starters, only Redd and Magliore went to the line. But Simmons absence is particularly frustrating because he is an outstanding free throw shooter, and a mediocre field goal shooter. He must know this. If you were him, wouldn't do all you could to get to the foul line? Wouldn't you attack the rim with impunity?

Yet he never does. He stands outside and lofts rainbow jumpers that rarely hit home. If I were Stotts, I would take Simmons aside and tell him, the only outside shots you are allowed to take are wide open jumpers. Everything else had better be drives to the basket. He's of no use to the Bucks as a muscle bound wimp.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Game One: Pistons Pull Away in the end

As feared, the Bucks could hang around in the first game of their playoff series with the Detroit Pistons only so long as the Pistons allowed them to. The Bucks did not embarrass themselves in Detroit Sunday night, but they didn't come close to winning either. Therein lies the conundrum. The Bucks simply cannot play their ordinary game and hope to win. They must play way, way out of their asses just to stay in each game, and then hope the Pistons give the sort of halfhearted effort they displayed at times tonight. That's the Bucks only chance.

Some things that can be changed, however. Michael Redd cannot force shots of the type he was forcing tonight. A one-legged, fadeaway kick shot has next to no chance of going in the basket. Its irresponsible of him to take such shots under any circumstances. As a leader, he must be able to diagnose a game better than he did tonight. He has to realize the defense is keyed on him and use that knowledge to set his mates up for easy baskets. Airballs score no points, Mike.

Second, Bobby Simmons must show up. 2-for-8 won't cut it. He has provided subpar performance from the 3 spot all year. Its time to pay the check, Vito. You owe us some ball, and now is the time to bring it. Performances like tonight are a joke. If Kukoc were healthy, Simmons would have been planted on the pines early.

Finally, some good points. I thought Bogut was quite impressive in his postseason debut. We poked fun at the way Wallace blocked his shots so easily, but he actually did something about it. He used his body and he used angles quite effectively. Most importantly, he never backed down from anyone. He's a keeper.

TJ was, for the most part, under control. He struggled at times, but he had a fire and passion I haven't seen from him before. He has turned a corner.

More on this game, and a look forward to Game Two in my next post.

Live Blog: Halftime Game One

The Bucks are down 43-37. They came out fast, but the Pistons caught them relatively easily. The Bucks are hanging around despite a poor shooting half. Amongst those particularly struggling are Bucks leader Michael Redd who is 3 for 11. Bobby Simmons hit his first shot, a three, and has done nothing since. Jamaal Magliore was actually playing very well when he got into foul trouble and had to go to the bench. Joe Smith, who was awful against Detroit in the regular season, has played well. Bogut is no longer a rookie, he has played extremely well. He showed creativity in his moves to the hoop against Rasheed Wallace, I'm thinking in particular of a beautiful left handed scoop. TJ Ford, though the box score doesn't show it, has played well. I like his pace and decision making and he has been aggressive going to the hole. Bell has played well also.

Problem: Rasheed Wallace is killing Bogut and Smith on the Detroit offensive end. He has 17 already. They have to slow him down.

I have to go.

Great! Now Kukoc Out

One of the few Bucks who actually produced against the Pistons, F Toni Kukoc, has been declared out of Game One with a back injury, according to a footer I just saw on NBA.TV. The report said he had been experiencing "back spasms". This is a crippling injury for a player of his age, as anyone who watched Larry Bird or Charles Barkley or David Robinson in their latter years can attest. I wouldn't expect him at all in the postseason. The Bucks desperately needed Kukoc's versatility and his play-off experience in this series. Not that the Bucks would have won it, but now it looks like it could really be ugly.

If you're not depressed enough, you may want to consider that this may mean we have seen the last of one of the most beloved players to ever pull a Bucks jersey over his head.

Bucks Should Go Small

The Bucks enter tonight's play-off series against the defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons owning only one conceivable advantage over their opponents. The Bucks will not carry the burden of any expectations. There is no one in the civilized world who expects that Milwaukee will defeat Detroit. Most experts are saying Detroit will easily take all four games. The Bucks can, theoretically, play a wilder, freeform style of basketball that might throw the Pistons off stride. I know, when teams say they're dangerous because they have nothing to lose, generally they lose with no perceptible difference in their conduct of the game. The Bucks have to maximize the lone part of their roster that has had any success versus Detroit (their small men).

Instead of trying to match-up conventionally with the Pistons frontline (big on big) Coach Stotts should try a rotation that consists of a constant mix of 3 guards (Redd, Ford, Williams, and Bell), a small forward (Simmons, Welsch and even J. Smith), and starting Gadzuric at center (rotating in Bogut, J. Smith, and Magliore).

Here are the advantages: (1) The Bucks regular 4-5 men (Bogut, Magliore, and J. Smith) have done nothing against Detroit this season so you don't lose much; (2) by going small they can get more offense on the court; (3) Rasheed and McDyess's interior defense has reaked havoc on the Bucks offense, this strategy may force the two to guard the perimeter; (4) It gets Prince's smothering defense off Simmons, hopefully freeing him up to provide offense; (5) It will spread the Pistons shot blockers out more, allowing Ford and Redd opportunities to finish; (6) It might sucker Flip Saunders into replacing Prince with the play-off unsteady, and aging, Lindsay Hunter; (7) Gadzuric is the one big man who has produced against the Pistons because he is athletic and can run the floor; (8) They have no chance of winning a conventionally coached game, so they might as well try it.

Some disadvantages: (1) The Wallace brothers will own the glass; (2) Rasheed might decide to take his offense exclusively to the post, where he won't be stopped; (3) If it backfires it could have a disastrous effect on morale.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

That was satire

The last two pieces were submitted by a guest writer who may appear from time to time next year. Obviously, they were meant to be, as he called them "Onion like"(referencing "The Onion" newspaper). May see more of it.

I'll be guest writing myself for the first rate site, Detroitbadboys.com. Doing a playoff preview. In terms of the world of sports blogging, that's called stepping up to the big leagues. I better step up my game too. I'm representing Bucks Nation.

Look for it tomorrow. I have to put it together tonight.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bogut's new release overcomes Wallace problem

They say frustration is the mother of all invention. So it was for one member of the Milwaukee Bucks this morning. Frustrated at having had nearly every one of his shot attempts blocked by Detroit Pistons F Rasheed Wallace in their head-to-head matchups this season, Milwaukee Bucks FC Andrew Bogut worked out and perfected a new release for his shot that he has proclaimed "Unblockable, mate!".

Bogut revealed the revolutionary shot to the media today at the Bucks shootaround. As the crowd of reporters gathered round him in anticipation, Bogut took two dribbles and then executed a preposterous backspin release that took his shot attempt in an arcing path directly behind his body. As he did so, he was heard to mutter "Have a bit of this, Sheedy boy!"

Bogut declared his new release technique to be an invention on par with the bouncing bombs that destroyed the Ruhr dam during World War II. When a reporter interjected that any shot released in such a manner had absolutely no chance of ever going into the basket, Bogut spat back "It can't be blocked, either, can it?". The reporter acknowledged that it probably couldn't. "Then problem solved, isn't it?" the rookie exclaimed.

When asked why so many Commonwealth speakers end declarative statements with questions, Bogut simply scratched his head and answered "We're different kind of speakers than you lot, aren't we?"

Stotts undecided about measuring Detroit's baskets

After a third closed door meeting with General Manager Larry Harris and the entire Bucks coaching staff, Bucks Head Coach Terry Stotts emerged still undecided whether to measure the baskets at the Palace at Auburn Hills or not. Many think the move will not add that extra bit of confidence that Stotts believes it will, mostly because the team has already played two games on the very same court this season. Stotts remains adamant in his fluctuating support for the idea. He insists he's seen it work for some team in the past, and he believes it will work in this instance for his Bucks.

In other news, the Bucks are still undecided whether they will utilize a new play known as "The Picket Fence" which Stotts installed yesterday. Critics of the play maintain that it has not worked in any organized basketball game in nearly 50 years. Stotts acknowledged that but defended the play insisting he added a new wrinkle to it that the Pistons won't be ready for. Sources close to the team have confirmed that in Stotts new version of the play the paint will be allowed to dry.

Finally, the team believes FG Jiri Welsch finally ended his career long shooting slump yesterday when, at Coach Stotts' insistence, he legally changed his name to "Jimmy Chitwood". The scheme seems to have paid off already: Chitwood reportedly made two consecutive shots during the Bucks shootaround and an unprecedented third make in a row for Chitwood just rimmed out.

Bucks Players' Production vs. Detroit

How does each Buck do in relation to his regular output, when it comes to playing the Pistons? We broke it down into Outproducers and Underproducers. We will break down each of the players and their roles in the next couple of days, but here are the numbers for this season.

Note: As a collective score, the Bucks are -9.37 off their regular outputs when they play the Pistons. They have (4) Overproduces, three of which are Guards, and (5) Underproducers, including the team's top three Forwards.

(Eff/48 vs. Pistons:: Eff/48 Season:: Diff)


G Michael Redd: 34.74 /24.89 / +9.85
G Charlie Bell: 28.48 / 19.12 / +9.36
F Toni Kukoc: 22.05 / 18.49 / +3.56
G Mo Williams: 22.88 / 20.31 / +2.57


F Joe Smith: 5.21 / 24.16 / -18.95
F Bobby Simmons: 13.71 / 19.17 / -5.46
C Andrew Bogut: 18.89 / 23.85 / -4.96
G TJ Ford: 16.05 / 19.37 / -3.32
C Dan Gadzuric: 24.72 / 26.36 / -1.61
C Jamaal Magliore: 19.94 / 20.32 / -0.38

Eff/48 is the most important measure of play

Eff/48: (Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - (FGs missed - FTs missed - Turnovers)/ minutes played x 48

Permit us to briefly step away from our playoff previews for a second so that we might try to persuade you the reader of Milwaukee Bucks Diary on an important statistical matter. We ask that you join us and bury your religious faith in the importance of the destructive "scoring average" and "rebounding average" and "assist average" statistics as barometers of player performance. They are too limited and much too misleading.

Here at MBD we care only about all-around positive productivity per minute played. That's why we look at basketball strictly through the prism of the only recognized statistic on this blog: Efficiency per 48 minutes of play, or "Eff/48" (formerly referred to on this blog as 'CG') .

Eff/48 is, in our opinion, the ultimate basketball stat and should be emphasized by coaches and management at all levels of play. In fact, if we were high school coaches we would immediately banish all other statistical categories from our team's locker room. Why? Put yourself in the mindset of players under each regime and you'll see why.

The Scoring Average Regime

In our day there was one number and one number only that hoopsters cared about: points. "How many did you get last night?" "So what are you averaging?" Under this regime if you got yours, you had a good game, if you didn't, you sucked. This breeds selfish play, and limited players. Under this regime, we have the "gunners", those who believe that they must get their points no matter how many shots they miss or how much team disunity they cause. We also have the "ballhogs" those that, once they receive the ball, are unlikely to give it up until they shoot it. We have the "Cadillacs", guys who coast for long periods of time without doing anything, or guys who would rather not do anything except try to score.

Here was our mindsets under this regime: all of the other statistics besides points were kind of unimportant. Literally. Assists? Yeah, they're okay, if the pass was fancy and got the crowd up, but how many of those boring regular assists could have been shots of mine that led to more points for me? Rebounds? Yeah, those look good, provided you have points to go with them. Blocks? Only if they're spectacular. Steals? Ha, ha, ha.

You see how the mindset of this regime distorts value and promotes selfishness and tolerates laziness and inconsistent play.

If Johnny is averaging 24.3 a game, he's all-star material right? Sure, provided your under the "Scoring Average" regime. But should he be? He misses a lot of shots, making our offense pretty unproductive per possession, he turns the ball over carelessly, giving our opponents more chances to score than they would have had, he never passes, he hardly cares about the boards, and he demands a lot of playing time because he needs it to get his precious points. That's no star.

Eff/48 Regime

Now imagine the world of Eff/48. With Eff/48 averages, every player can "score" big, so to speak, regardless of shot attempts or even of playing time. That is provided they make the most of every second they're on the court. There's no "Cadillacs" under this regime, because every unproductive minute hurts your average.

The new thought waves under Eff/48:

"Holy shit, I've been out here 3 minutes and I don't have a positive statistic, I'd better get hustling... Man, I almost traveled, I better be more careful with the possession... Let's see, this is a semi-makable shot here, but its too likely a miss so I'll pass it up... I see Steve cutting to the hole, and that's a guaranteed assist, and I avoid the risk of a missed field goal penalty... Man, I haven't gotten any shots in a while, I'd better make up for it by getting to the boards... Or on D I could get a steal... Points are still great for my average, but I better not try to get them at the cost of too many missed shots... It only pays to look for good shots I guess..."

You see, Eff/48 has all the right incentives, and jettisons all of the destructive incentives that have tormented basketball teams at all levels of play. Eff/48 players are judged by their ability to do positive things on the court, to avoid doing negative things on the court, and to accomplish those feats as many times as they can for as long as they are on the floor.

That's why we only look at a player's Eff/48 on this blog. Just our little rebellion.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What happened to Bucks View?

A kind of pall has been cast over Bucks Nation. A member of our family, the Bucks View blog -- a terrific, funny site for Bucks fans -- is missing. It hadn't been updated for a while (I figured the frustrating Bucks just wore the guy down), but now its just... gone. Like the planet Alderaan.

This concerns us. There aren't that many good places on the Internet for Bucks fans to visit. The Bucks just aren't that popular. We can't afford to lose any good site.

What really troubles and puzzles me, though, is what's there now. If you click on our "Bucks View" link, you get some student loan consolidation site. Huh? How is that possible? What happened to all the articles he already posted?

If anyone has answers that explain this mystery, please comment.

Another Decent Grade for Stotts

Around Milwaukee and in Bucks Nation, Coach Terry Stotts is considered the NBA version of former Eagles and Giants head coach Rich Kotite; he can't motivate anyone and he can't strategize his way out of a wet bag. Around the nation, however, the assessment has generally been mixed, leaning toward positive.

In the latest grade-out for Stotts, Charley Rosen of Foxsports.com gives the Bucks skipper a B-. Rosen leans toward the point we made and were grilled for weeks ago, namely, perhaps it is the Bucks players who are deficient and not the coach. Anyway, here's his assessment:

"After their scintillating early-season successes, the Bucks have fallen on hard times. Andrew Bogut has been just okay. The more Jamaal Magloire plays, the more his limitations become evident. T. J. Ford has lost some of his zest. Michael Redd is inconsistent. And the league has caught up with Bobby Simmons. Through it all, however, Stotts has Milwaukee on the verge of a postseason berth. Give him credit for taking risks and for reaching deep into his bench."

Bucks Fans Can Be Hard to Please

In a poll taken yesterday on JSonline.com, the question asked was: "Are you happy with the way the Bucks season went?" 87% of the roughly 1500 people voting chose "NO!". Though the poll was unscientific, the results are still staggering. 87%! Given that you can generally find 20% of the population who believe the moon landing took place in a television studio, 87% agreement on any proposition is overwhelming.

How did it come to this, Bucks Nation? How can a team that had its third highest percentage increase in victories in its history, a team that is headed to the play-offs, a team with a rookie head coach and a young roster, not convince more than 13% of any polling population that they had a good season?

Expectations. The Bucks didn't meet them. And the fans are pissed off about it. After the Magliore trade, and the fast start, expectations were raised to a somewhat unrealistic level. The phrase "50+ wins" was even bandied about. After that kind of talk, 40 wins just didn't cut it.

It proves one of my long standing thesi. I have always contended the following: Milwaukee sports fans will accept a losing team, but never a disappointing team. The Milwaukee Braves never had a losing season in their history, but they suffered drastically declining attendance beginning immediately after their consecutive appearances in the World Series. You see, after the Braves showed them the good life, Milwaukee fans would no longer accept anything less.

Billups the Best: Just Ask Him

Chauncey Billups is one of the best players in the NBA. Just ask him; he'll tell you.

I just saw Chauncey "I loves me some ME!" Billups on the usually incredibly lame "Budweiser Hot Seat" interview Wednesday on ESPN's Sportscenter. (To avoid a commercial fraud charge they better have some Budweiser for the guests because the seat certainly isn't hot. Its so powder puff it makes the seat on the Larry King Show feel like it has a butt warmer). I'm still laughing my ass off. Here's the interview in relevant part, paraphrased because its from memory:

Q: Chauncey, who is your choice for this year's MVP?

Billups: Chauncey Billups. (Note: Brilliant use of the third person to fool us into believing his choice is disinterested. Wait, is that why he didn't just say "me"?)

Q: (in a bemused voice) You're choosing yourself? Why?

Billups: (without any hint of irony) Because we have the best team and I'm the catalyst. (Note: Well, "The Catalyst" seems to be taking his "Mr. Big Shot" nickname to heart. Never mind the defense of the Wallaces and Tayshaun Prince, or the meaningless scoring of Richard Hamilton, or that Billups enjoyed extremely limited success until he arrived in Detroit, Chauncey has declared Chauncey the Most Valuable Piston. I always thought the success of the Pistons was predicated on their "Five hearts beating as one" philosophy. Apparently Billups has amended that philosophy, as the pigs did in Orwell's Animal Farm, to read "All Pistons are equal, but some are more equal than others".)

Bucks-Pistons Playoff History

The Bucks first win as a franchise came against the Detroit Pistons at the Milwaukee Arena on Halloween night 1968, but they haven't fared well against them in the postseason. The two teams have met three times in the play-offs, with the Pistons winning all three matchups. The Pistons lead the overall postseason matchup 10-2.

Western Conference First Round

Detroit wins series, 2-1.

Milwaukee 110, Detroit 107
Detroit 126, Milwaukee 123
Detroit 107, Milwaukee 104

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Detroit wins series, 4-0.

Detroit 85, Milwaukee 80
Detroit 112, Milwaukee 92
Detroit 110, Milwaukee 90
Detroit 96, Milwaukee 94

Eastern Conference First Round

Detroit wins series, 4-1.

at Detroit 108, Milwaukee 82
Milwaukee 92, at Detroit 88
Detroit 95, at Milwaukee 85
Detroit 109, at Milwaukee 92
at Detroit 91, Milwaukee 77

Bucks-Pistons on TNT; Barkley 'psyched'

The Bucks have landed the first blow in their matchup with the Pistons. They have used their lack of starpower and their small market status to bring the Pistons down to the level of a TNT worthy team. Game One will be Sunday night at 7:00 pm.

TNT is the least prestigious location in the NBA's main telecast troika, which includes ESPN and ABC. I'm sure Charles Barkley is doing cartwheels knowing he will get the chance to comment on this series.

I just thought of a drinking game. Everytime Barkley mentions that the Bucks are awful, or that the matchup sucks, or that he doesn't want to watch it: slam a beer. Everytime he mentions that he hates either the city of Detroit or the city of Milwaukee, or that he considers those two cities the worst in the NBA, or how there is nothing to do in either city, do a shot.

You'll be fucked up by the third quarter, guaranteed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

For the Bucks its Panic in Detroit

Thanks to victories by Washington, Chicago, and Indiana, the Milwaukee Bucks stayed in the 8th position of the Eastern Conference standings and thus draw their longtime rival the Detroit Pistons in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. The Bucks needed outside help to avoid the Pistons, and they got none. I could complain, but sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, and the Bucks certainly didn't do that. There's no whining in basketball.

In a sense the Bucks seeding was irrelevant anyway because they didn't match-up well with any of their three potential opponents, so the Bucks chances of being competitive with the Pistons are about as good as they would otherwise have been. So strap yourself in Purple and Greeniacs, its playoff time in the Association.

We will break down the keys to this first round matchup in the next series of postings. It should be interesting.

Your Guide to Bucks Playoff Scenarios

If you follow the NBA scoreboard tonight, here's how you will know whom the Bucks will take on in the first round of the NBA playoffs (cue Wagner's "O Fortuna" -- its playoff time baby!):

1. Washington, Chicago and Indiana ALL WIN
2. Washington WINS, Chicago LOSES, Indiana LOSES

1. Washington WINS, Chicago WINS, Indiana LOSES
2. Washington LOSES, Chicago LOSES, Indiana WINS
3. Washington LOSES, Chicago WINS, Indiana LOSES
4. Washington WINS, Chicago LOSES, Indiana WINS

1. Washington, Chicago, Indiana ALL LOSE
2. Washington WINS, Chicago LOSES, Indiana LOSES

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What are these Bucks fans smoking?

There is an insignificant, but sickening, little poll on Bucks.com that asks "Who is the greatest Bucks small forward of all time?" The early results are in. The results are appalling. With a statistically significant 9,000+ people voting, Glenn Robinson (57%!) is substantially ahead of Marques Johnson (16%) and Tim Thomas (10%) is ahead of Bobby Dandridge (9%). Are they joking?! This is an injustice I can't let slide.

Glenn Robinson does not belong in Marques Johnson's hoops universe, let alone ahead of him in a "Best Ever" poll. Marques was so much better than Big Dog its not even funny. Marques Johnson would have destroyed Glenn Robinson, destroyed him! Those who voted for Robinson, that lazy self-loving loaf, over Johnson obviously never saw Marques play. They never saw Marques drive hard to the rack for a spinning layup. They never saw him shoot his "stop on a dime" pull-up jumper. They never saw what he could do as a rebounder, either. They just never saw him. Marques Johnson was, in my opinion (which is backed up by Marques' all-around statistical excellence) the number 2 Buck of all-time, behind only Kareem. The fact that his number has not been retired taints the legitimacy of the entire number retirement system. That's all I can say.

And Tim Thomas ahead of Bobby Dandridge? Please. I can't even laugh at that -- it hurts too much. Thomas was a maddening underachiever who really doesn't even deserve to be included in such a poll. He was the Bucks main small forward for what, two seasons at most? And he grossly underperformed.

Meanwhile Dandridge is amongst the Bucks all-time leaders in several statistical categories. He was a cornerstone of a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP team, a Western Conference Championship team, and several of the best teams the Bucks have ever fielded. The Greyhound, people! Remember him? He too should have his #10 retired, but that's become such a political issue, its not worth arguing it anymore. Just remember Dandridge's twisting turnaround J's floating through the net, and that's all you need to know.

If you have a second, I ask that you stop and vote on this poll (bottom left on front page of Bucks.com). Buck Pride is on the line. It should go: 1. Marques 2. Bobby D 3. Junior Bridgeman 4. Glenn Robinson, and don't even vote for Tim Thomas.

We need to salvage Bucks Nation's hoop knowledge reputation by turning these vote counts around before it is too late. Do the Right Thing!

Couldn't Someone Have Spoken Up?

What, are you going to shortsheet me next? Why didn't someone post a comment like "Hey dumbass from Milwaukee Bucks Diary, that "CG" stat you claim to have invented or revealed is an already existing statistic tallied by NBA.com and refered to as Efficiency/48? Duh." Boy, I feel smart and on-top of things now. Next I'm going to invent a statistic just like RPG and call it "Ballboards", like Oscar Robertson inexplicably used to do.

No, its okay. No harm no foul because I took no intellectual property value in the stat whatsoever. The CG was completely derivative anyway so I knew it had to be in existence in some other form, I just didn't know there was an exact duplicate at such an easily accesible site.

Anyway, this is good news, since I'm almost totally sold on the value of the statistic as a general play evaluator, and now I don't have to do anymore annoying math.

With the new information at my fingertips, here's some cursory observations based on the comprehensive Eff/48 stats produced by NBA.com:

1. Even though Magliore sucks, GM Harris still won the Magliore for Mason trade. Desmond Mason's production has fallen off the planet. Way off the planet. He has the lowest Eff/48 among forwards who get significant playing time. That's bad. In fact, he's been beyond awful, aka beyond "Magliore Bad". And that non-lottery pick we lost was of little value as it has about a 1 in 10 chance of even producing a contributing player.

2. Mo Williams, my Bucks MVP earlier this season, has been completely decimated and his season has been derailed by injuries. Its sad. He was making a great leap forward this season before being struck down.

3. TJ Ford is having an excellent April; let's keep it up through the play-offs, #11.

4. Joe Smith is struggling big time in the last couple of weeks. Pick it up, Joe. Go easy on the skirts, buddy.

5. We may have to accept that Bobby Simmons will always be a middling starting small forward. Lets just hope for brief moments of brilliance. Like right now, for example. If the Bucks are to do anything at all in the postseason, HE MUST STEP UP. Don't hold your breath, Purple and Greeniacs.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bucks Match Up Well With Replacement Pistons

Here's the strategy should the Bucks meet up with Detroit in the postseason. We rent Vic Mackey and the rest of the Strike Team from the Farmington District LAPD, and we have them detain the Pistons top 6 players on some bogus "We gotta clear it with our Captain" phony arrest, the same way the team pulled that bogus arrest on the fictional Denver Nugget player in Episode 3; Season 1 of "The Shield" (Fridays and Saturdays on Spike TV).

I think if we can get that done, we've got a hell of a chance to take any Pistons series to at least 5 games, possibly 6. Tonight's game proved to me that our 1-5 players matchup pretty darn well with the Pistons 7-12, and the team's support staff, groupies, autograph seekers, and general hangers-on.

The proof is in the pudding. The Bucks really took it to the "Pistons" tonight. The fans at the Bradley have to admit they got their $100.00's worth too (or did they charge Exhibition Season prices?). Some of the names on the Detroit roster the BC faithful may have even remembered. For instance, the Pistons were led in scoring by the Palace at Auburn Hills janitor, Hong Kong Phooey, in assists by the team's Assistant Regional Manager or Assistant to the Regional Manager, the British born Gareth Keenan, and in rebounding by the team's aging superstar from Carver High: Coolidge. All that wasn't enough. The Bucks dropped the Pistons 113-93.

On a serious note, the Pistons de facto forfeiture gives the Bucks an undeserved shot at a non-losing record. Sidebar: I'd be mighty pissed with the Pistons no show if I were one of the teams jockeying with the Bucks for playoff position. Hey, that's life in the NBA.

Coming Tomorrow: The Washington BULLETS (Abe, why did you ever drop the coolest nickname in sports? Did anyone ever think about, let alone actually fire a gun based on a basketball team's nickname? How stupid and Orwellian.).

Coming Wednesday: Playoff preview.

Bucks Playoff Slogan: The Dancefloor has a Backdoor!

Possible Bucks Playoff Ticket Sales Script:

"Clear the alley, Detroit or Miami. Look out, you high seeds! The Bucks Garbage Truck is taking the backway into this year's playoffs, and we aren't yielding to anyone! Feel the slow backwards roll and hear that beat, baby... beep...beep...beep. We're "back", baby, and we're gonna make a statement!

Disclaimer: The phrase "statement" as used herein should be understood to mean "concession statement".

"So come on, Bucks Fans! Detroit has its Bad Boys, ooohhh! We're not afraid! We're Milwaukee's Mediocre Boys! You want uneven play and constant peaks and troughs? We deliver that and then some! Who else but your '06 Bucks could follow up an 'okay' road victory over a really horrible team with a 'piss poor' home loss to an equally horrible team! No one, baby! We're comin' in on a roll, baby! We beat Phoenix about... ahh... two weeks ago, and you know we had that huge Knick win the other night!

So get your ticket packages now, baby. Burn those C notes on a couple games! What's holding you back? Four total blowout losses coming, you say? No way, bro! These Bucks look poised to play at least one competitive half -- and if they get Miami... possibly two! Kids get their pictures taken with Bango!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ford Tough -- Again

The roller coaster ride continues. In the last two games the Bucks, who seemed to be sliding on the slippery slope out of the playoffs, have reestablished their footing in the Eastern Conference standings. Consequently, at 39-40 they are on the verge of finally clinching a playoff berth.

Last night they convincingly defeated the clueless New York Knicks, running them off their own court, 97-80. The game was over by mid third quarter. Once again TJ Ford was brilliant, as was the ever reliable Michael Redd.

In the last week Ford has basically reinvented himself. If you toss out the Memphis game, he has posted an astronomical CG score of 35.54 over that stretch. That's better than the season CG scores of most of the great players in the game, and it certainly blows away Ford's own mediocre season CG of 18.71. It may be a temporary perch he has ascended to, but, as I stated in an earlier post, now we know he can get there.

He's just been a different TJ lately. He seems calm and determined on the court, instead of reckless and unsure.

The new approach has helped elevate every part of his game. His passing is crisper and smarter. His penetration moves are far more effective. And his jumpshot is much more accurate. All the result of his new, more confident mindset.

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary Ford's ascent has been Andrew Bogut. All of a sudden those two seem to be communicating on a private wavelength. Last night Bogut was 8 of 9 from the field. 4 of those 8 field goals were slam dunks or layups created by marvelous TJ Ford bounce passes. In fact, a good deal of TJ's more remarkable assists of late have ended in a Bogut slam dunk. They are reading one another very well.

How long will the New TJ last? I don't know. Not the point. The point is we now know that he exists, and, more importantly, so does TJ.

Friday, April 14, 2006

TJ Ford's Big Steal: Shades of Hondo

When TJ Ford picked Gilbert Arenas's pocket the other night, the steal could not have meant more to the Milwaukee Bucks and their collective aspirations for this season. It was, in its own little way, a microcosm of John Havlicek's famous steal ("Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!!"). At the time of the steal the momentum clearly was going the way of the Wizards. In fact, I think the Bucks would have lost had he not made that magnificent defensive play. Had they lost, the season would have been over.

So lets give it up to the little man. He's had 3 excellent games in his last four. I've been ragging on him and Magliore for the better part of the season, and they've both by and large deserved it, but I don't consider the two of them similarly situated by any means. TJ is a guy with raw talent and, obviously -- given what he's overcome -- a good deal of self-determination. I don't ever question his heart. And, from what my sources tell me, he's not one of those guys who wastes a lot of energy getting drunk at cheesy Milwaukee dance bars ('paging Bobby Simmons, paging Bobby Simmons'). Like the Bucks leader, Michael Redd (who never goes out), Ford seems genuinely dedicated to his craft.

Its just that TJ has a frustrating inability to consistently translate his specific set of talents into on-court effectiveness. You see flashes, but you just don't see trends. I've always said I think he needs mental discipline, and something of a killer attitude. By sitting him down lately, maybe Coach Stotts is helping him find that in himself. Its been somewhat effective so far.

Magliore, on the other hand, is a complete waste of space. Have you been watching his stat lines? The guy's completely lost it, or he's quit on us. Either way he's deteriorating rapidly, like the Incredible Shrinking Center, or the Wicked Witch of the East after you add water. Its not been a pretty sight.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Agony of Being a Bucks Fan

In order to follow this year's Milwaukee Bucks I'm convinced you have to be at least partially masochistic. Why else would you willfully choose to endure this kind of torture? I'm doing it because I started this weblog and I intend to see it through to the bitter end (and it will be bitter, trust me). Otherwise, believe me, I probably would have followed my brother's lead and just stopped watching the Bucks altogether.

Sports is about winning and losing, I accept that, but it should also be about fun. Otherwise why bother? But how has this season been any fun at all? You can tolerate the losing if you feel like the team is playing at or above its potential, or is at least improving for the future. Neither can be said of this team. They haven't gotten on any winning streak to speak of since November, and I don't think they've gotten one bit better over the course of the year. They rarely outperform expectations, and every time they do (Memphis win, Phoenix win) they cancel it out with a gross underperformance (home loss to New York, home loss to Houston).

Believe me, I don't want to rip the Bucks. I want to be optimistic about the team. But every time I go out of my way to praise someone on the Bucks they end up making me look like a complete fool. TJ Ford, case in point. In my last post, and against my own common sense, I tried to portray his game against Orlando as a watershed in his basketball career, the game that would finally put him on the right path. What was I smoking? Last night he went 2 for 8 with a whopping 3 assists. That's how he follows up a 34 point, 11 assist game? Same old TJ! Example Two: Coach Stotts. Last month I caught a lot of hell for defending his abilities, and I still think he is an intelligent guy, but what planet has he been on lately? I mean, did you read his comments after last night's game? The season is slipping away and he sounds like he's analyzing stocks or running an IBM meeting or something. Where's the passion? Where's the sense of urgency? Where's the fire? Start kicking ass man!!

The guy at Deadspin.com called this site "Diary of a Mad Bucks Fan". Trust me, I never wanted it to be. But if it serves a cathartic purpose for any suffering Bucks fan, then I guess its worth it after all.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bucks staring into the abyss

After Friday night's 100-90 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis, the Bucks have dropped three in a row and 6 of their last 10. The only reason they are still in the playoff hunt is because the East blows chow. That's the only reason. Even with that, the Bucks don't deserve to make it.

They are the only team in either conference who holds a play-off spot and yet has a negative PF vs. PA number. In the calendar year 2006, the Bucks are now 3-15 against teams who currently hold a winning record. I am really out of things to say. All I can think of is that line from Lou Mannheim at the end of the movie Wall Street:

"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."

Clearly, the Bucks are staring into the abyss. The question is, do they have what it takes to keep from falling in?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The bar has been raised for TJ Ford

TJ Ford showed me something last night that it will take my brain a while to forget. He CAN be a top point guard in the Association. He has the skills. All he lacks is a disciplined approach and a killer instinct.

Last night he played an aggressive, attacking style, and he was quite successful. Matched against the quickly improving Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson, it was no contest. Ford destroyed him with quickness. Nelson fouled out early trying to guard Ford, couldn't penetrate effectively against him on offense, and was just generally abused in every way possible by the smaller man. If Ford can do this to a bigger and stronger guard like Nelson, he ought to be able to do it to many of the point guards in the game.

Ford showed he can effectively attack the opponent's big men, as well. He took the ball right at the young Dwight Howard and the rest of Orlando's long frontline and, instead of getting his shot rejected, he drew fouls or scored on them repeatedly. He did so by using a new approach. Rather than showing the ball early, as is his custom, Ford took a page from the book written by the better little men in NBA history and constantly moved the angle of release on his shots, thereby protecting the ball with his body when he took it into the lane. As a result, the big men had to come into him to try to block the ball, and they were left to foul him or to swipe ineffectively at the air.

If Ford can add a consistent jump shot to the repetoire he showed last night, and if he can wipe that annoying smile off his baby face, Milwaukee may have something at the point after all.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

TJ spectacular, but Bucks fall short

The Bucks suffered a devastating loss tonight to the Orlando Magic, 108-105, but unlike their loss to the Heat last night, the team has nothing to be ashamed of.

Battling back from a 20 point hole, the Bucks nearly pulled it out. When things looked darkest the man who stepped up was none other than the maligned, the forlorn, the abused .... T.J. Ford! He was beyond spectacular. He played the type of fast paced, hard driving game that we thought he would always play when we drafted him out of Texas.

In fact, if you didn't know any better, you would have sworn you were watching another #11, Isiah Lord Thomas. Ford was dishing, hustling, scooping, driving, doing it all, and in awe-inspiring fashion. The shots he was making! If you didn't see it, all I can say is you missed a magic show. Ford scored a career high 34 points, dished out 11 assists, and nearly brought the game into overtime with a miracle steal and three point hoist at the buzzer, but it wasn't to be. He did all he could.

Which is more than I can say for the bigs. For the second night in a row they were collectively awful. Andrew Bogut couldn't shoot, and couldn't guard his own shadow. He must have nothing in the tank because he looks atrocius. The rest of them were equally bad, but he stood out. They have to pick it up or we have zero chance of doing anything.

Now for reality. The loss sends the Bucks below the .500 mark and further erodes their standing in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Bulls won again, downing the Sixers 99-92, and now move into the 8th spot 2 games behind the Bucks. Now its the Sixers who are on the outside looking in. They are in 9th place, 21/2 games behind the Bucks. This might be the team's only saving grace. The Sixers are playing awful basketball. But do you really want to back into the playoffs?

The Bucks Must Defeat Orlando

Maybe I'm Chicken Little, but while everyone is talking about the Bucks play-off seeding I'm still far from convinced that they will make the play-offs. The Bucks have a scant 3 game cushion between them and the suddenly red-hot Chicago Bulls and they have a brutal 8 game schedule remaining to be played.

On that schedule I count only 3 probable wins, and two of them are on the road. They are: at Orlando tonight, at New York, and home to Atlanta. The Bucks must win all 3 of those games, yet we all know they are just as capable of losing all of them.

Those games are crucial because the other 5 remaining games -- depending on the opponent's effort level, of course -- will be extremely difficult to win. At Memphis, home to New Jersey, a home and away with Washington, and home to Detroit. Those are all play-off teams, i.e. the kind of teams the Bucks have struggled to beat in 2006. Now, they should probably take one of those Wizard games, but everything else is dicey.

That is why they must win tonight. They cannot afford a slip-up.

Charlie Bell touted as the "pickup of the year"

The esteemed Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune is calling Milwaukee G Charlie Bell the "pickup of the year". I agree. He has certainly been magnificent since coming back from his earlier injury, and he has risen to the occasion since getting added responsibilities in the last couple of weeks. Clearly, GM Harris has a real eye for the hidden gem. Bell was so hidden in fact that he nearly retired after playing last season overseas. So Harris literally grabbed him off the scrap heap. Here's what Smith had to say about the former Spartan in his recent column:

Pickup of the year? Try the Bucks' Charlie Bell, who said he was considering retirement after playing in Italy and Spain the last four years. He has scored in double figures the last seven games, averaging 14.1 points, 6.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds in that span with T.J. Ford hurt. Against the Suns, Bell became the fifth player to record a triple-double in one of his first four NBA starts, joining Magic Johnson, Edgar Jones, Andre Miller and Scottie Pippen.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is that all the Bucks got?

If last night's non-effort against the Miami Heat is any indication of how the Bucks intend to compete with the better teams in the Eastern Conference, they may as well just pack it in. Fuck it. Its not worth it if they're going to completely humiliate themselves like they did on Tuesday night. Why bother even getting into the play-offs if this is all they got? Just call it a season, so you all can hurry back to wherever it is you make your permanent residences. You might as well let the Bulls into the dance. They came back from a 17 point deficit to beat Indiana. They look like they want to play. You guys don't.

And hey, frontline guys: Time to start pulling your weight! This is crunch time, remember? What a big 4 we have up front. Andrew Bogut, Jamaal Magliore, Joe Smith, and Bobby Simmons combined for a whopping 13 points tonight. Sweet game, guys. Way to show up. The four of you combined couldn't outscore Obi Wan Kukoc, and they say he's washed up. Well, at least he has pride. Learn something from him, why don't you.

And don't think the Big 4 were expending effort on defense either. The starting Miami frontline combined to score 55 points. 55 to 13! That is simply pathetic. Shaq is a shell of himself, and Walker and Haslem are one dimensional players. And yet they walked all over the Bucks.

Pathetic. I'm out of here.

5-Point Bucks Has Perfect Stotts Analogy

All season long I've been of two minds about these Bucks and their fledgling coach. Are they a talented team of underachievers or are they a scrappy but flawed bunch of overachievers? I can't make up my mind. In fact, if you read this blog on a consistent basis you will see that the only consistent thing about my writing is the inconsistency of my opinions.

For example, a couple of weeks back I posted a defense of Coach Stotts. Most readers were probably stunned by this post given the fact that I ridiculed Stotts throughout the season. Part of the reason I posted my defense of him was in reaction to what I was hearing on Milwaukee talk radio. It was over-the-top. They were treating Stotts as though he were completely to blame for the Bucks up and down season. They were basically labeling him the Town Idiot. I thought some balance needed to be interjected into the conversation, so I did a 180 degree turn.

Truth be told, I still held doubts about Stotts, which is why I really wasn't put off when people rained criticism down on me. Part of me was saying the exact same things. But I couldn't quite go back to the dark side and condemn Stotts completely. I was in a state of cognitive dissonance.

Well, sometimes a good analogy is all you need to provide clarity to a murky situation. I've finally gotten that, thanks to Sam at 5-Point Bucks. He recently called Stotts "The Tim Thomas of NBA coaches". Perfect. He has hit upon the perfect Stotts analogy.

The name "Tim Thomas" holds special meaning for Bucks fans. It conjures up feelings of acute frustration brought on when great promise meets maddening inconsistency. You see, as a prospect, Thomas had everything you could ask for. Skills, height, quickness, mobility, shooting touch. And yet, as a player on the court, he couldn't seem to leverage those gifts into consistent solid performances. He was a basketball cocktease. He would show you just enough to make you believe he could be great (remember the Indiana play-off series?), and then broke your heart with piss poor effort after piss poor effort. And now Stotts is starting to fall into that category.

Stotts seems to have it on the ball, but he makes so many maddening mistakes. He has the acumen to keep a flawed and injury-prone Bucks team in playoff contention, but then he can't seem to make the simple moves needed to get them past that level. He won't bring the hammer down on TJ or Magliore, he won't settle in on a winning rotation, and he can't seem to reverse the momentum of a game when the game starts to get away from the Bucks. Until he gets those flaws corrected then Sam is right, he is the Tim Thomas of NBA coaches.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

These DetroitBadBoys are actually quite good

The Pistons have a better team than the Bucks, better management than the Bucks, a richer history than the Bucks, now it turns out they have better bloggers too. If you are a fan of basketball and good writing I strongly recommend you visit the DetroitBadBoys blog. Well written, well informed, and funny, its everything this little blog aspires to be but rarely is.

They're decent guys, too. After Bogut was so thoroughly bitch-slapped by Rasheed Wallace on Friday night, they had every right to really squash my grapes for my unfortunate comparison of the two. They didn't. Magnanimous Piston fans, you say? That is no longer oxymoronic.

Anyway, they've certainly earned a coveted spot on the Bucks Diary "Links" list. I'm adding them in the next couple of days. I hope they can handle the extra 2 to 3 hits per day that's sure to generate. Seriously -- check them out. They're good.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bucks Commit Only Two Turnovers. No Foolin'

If anything can convince the Bucks of the importance of protecting every single possession, it would have to be Saturday night's game at the Bradley Center. The Bucks were badly outshot, were inept in their few opportunities at the foul line, held only a slight edge in rebounding, and yet emerged with one of their most important victories of the season over the struggling but dangerous Indiana Pacers, 96-89.

How'd they do it? By turning the ball over an NBA record 2 times all night. 2 times! An absolutely astounding achievement on its own, but a near miraculous feat when one considers the Bucks are one of the most turnover prone teams in the Association, and they were playing one of the best defensive teams in the Association. The Bucks stinginess with the ball, combined with their fine effort on the offensive glass, translated into an overwhelming edge in the teams' overall number of possessions. When you get a lot more chances to score than your opponent it makes your chances of success a whole lot greater.

Has Ford seen the light?

I have bashed TJ Ford relentlessly for the past couple of months. But I don't hate the guy. When he has a good game, I'm going to say so, and last night he had a very good game. I know what you're thinking. How is a 4 point effort categorized as a very good game? In this case it is. TJ shot the ball only four times, and he hit on 50% of his tries. Very efficient. More importantly, he dished out 6 assists and recorded ZERO turnovers. After a season of watching this guy dribble mindlessly, turn the ball over habitually, and shoot the ball terribly, last night was great to see. TJ, this is the point guard we need you to be. Protect the ball, limit your shooting, and concentrate on getting us into our offense, penetrating the defense, and setting your teammates up with your passing skills. If you can just do that night after night, TJ, you and the team would be so much better off.

Redd on an offensive rampage

Over the last four games, the last two of which were played against superb defensive teams, G Michael Redd is averaging 34 points a game and shooting an astounding 56% from the floor. His demeanor and unstoppability (is that a word?) reminds me of the incredible offensive run Bernard King went on in 1984 when he played for the Knicks. Its been something to see. Redd is making shots with guys almost glued to his chest, he's scoring from every place on the floor, and in nearly every manner, and he's showing a kind of fearless confidence you rarely ever see. Granted, he's still been kind of one dimensional, but what a one dimension. His performances are energizing the Milwaukee Bucks at a crucial time and lifting them to a higher level. If he can keep it up, the Bucks could be a dangerous team in the first round of the play-offs.