Game Five Preview: The End is Near
The Bucks have certainly outperformed my expectations in this series. No matter how it ends, I have to say they have put up a good account of themselves. In fact, the entire outlook for the future of the Bucks is much brighter than I had imagined it to be just a few short weeks ago.
They have hung with, and in some ways even outperformed, the best team in the Association. From what I have seen of the other playoff teams I don't think anyone can compete with the Pistons, and yet in spurts the Bucks have.
Several individuals on Milwaukee's roster have distinguished themselves.
I expected TJ Ford to do nothing against the Pistons backcourt. I thought Billups would eat him like a praying mantis. Hasn't happened. TJ has proven that he is a consistent jump shot away from being an upper echelon player.
Michael Redd is already there. A couple posts ago I said the difference between him and Ray Allen was that Allen got it done in the playoffs and Redd didn't. That distinction is gone. The difference now is that Redd is younger and has an unlimited ceiling. The way he has destroyed the defensive efforts of both Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince has been astonishing. He has added an attack element to his game. He's got Prince so confused he doesn't know if he's on foot or horseback.
Andrew Bogut has been outclassed clearly by Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, but the thing that impresses me is he keeps competing. Did you see the way he anticipated and stole that Rasheed save attempt late in Game Four? A veteran play. He will continue to struggle, no doubt, but the experience he has gotten will pay off handsomely in the years to come.
Finally, Jamaal Magliore has played himself back into the conversation. Before this series I didn't care if he took a shit and died. But in the last four games he has so thoroughly outplayed Piston C Ben Wallace, I am, remarkably, beginning to soften toward "The Big Cat", and beginning to imagine him in a long term role as a Milwaukee Buck. He still can't hit the broad side of a barn from two paces, but I at least love the way he's been taking it right at the "Fro" all series long. Its left Wallace almost bewildered. Several times the Piston big man has commited the cardinal sin of playing defense down low and consequently he's gotten cheap fouls trying to defend Magliore. Wallace has been no factor in this series. I didn't know Magliore could operate so effectively against the league's premier defensive center.
So, what do I want tonight? If the Bucks are going to go out, I just want them to be a tough out. I want them to leave everything on the floor of the Palace. If they do that then no matter the outcome, in my book they'll be winners.