Bucks Diary

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Milwaukee's Worst on tap in Miami

After the Bucks lost to the Kings a week or so ago, someone at the Sacramento Bee wrote that "the Bucks played like Milwaukee's Best tastes." Well, "The Beast" was on tap again last night in Miami.

Stotts not doing his job

I am very optimistic about the Bucks and their future. They are stock piling a lot of good talent, in my opinion. But I just don't think Terry Stotts is the man who will take them to the next level. And its games like last night that make me think that way.

Last night, the Bucks did not put forth a professional effort. To put it more bluntly, they went out on the court and absolutely took a shit. Sorry if that offends anyone, but that's what happened. I have to be real. They didn't come prepared to play. It was an embarrassment for Bucks Nation, plain and simple.

Am I overreacting? I don't think so. The Bucks are not 30 points worse than a Shaqless Heat. They simply are not. And the Heat without Shaq are not proficient enough offensively to shoot the +60% FG percentage they shot for most of last night. And when the Bucks are shooting 40% for the game at the same time, it tells me one team is competing and one is not. Its that simple. The Bucks gave no effort whatsoever on either the offensive end or the defensive end, and I'm disgusted by that. And I think its Stotts' fault. Can't the guy light a fire under anyone?

Did he have the Bucks ready to play last night? Consider the following. The team was down 50-25 at one point. They had only 37 at the half. Is that a team that came out ready to play?

Tractor Traylor headed to prison?

The troubled times of former Milwaukee Bucks PF Robert "Tractor" Traylor seem never to end. I read in the NY Times SundaySports that Traylor pled guilty last Thursday to filing a false tax return and, more ominously, to "hiding assets for a convicted drug dealer." Unless the big fella was somehow secretly in league with Vic Mackey, I would say our boy's troubles are just beginning. Why, Tractor, why?

Sugar Ray likes Ilyasova's game, too

It appears Bucks rookie Ersan Ilyasova is catching eyes across the Association. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, former Bucks phenom and current Sonics star "Sugar" Ray Allen said "I like this Ilyasova guy. He seems like he really knows how to score. He's going to give them a great lift coming off the bench."

Allen was also impressed with the Bucks sophomore lottery boys, too. "I like what Bogut does out there" Allen added, "and what Villanueva does".

No Shaqer tonight?

Tonight the Bucks face off against the Miami Heat and the man I think is the best player in the world at the moment, Heat G Dwayne Wade. But they might catch a break. Last night on Sportscenter, ESPN reported that Heat C Shaquille O'Neal is unlikely to play.

If so, the Bucks could use the break. Their schedule this week is brutal. The Green and Red have Miami tonight, then they play in Orlando, then in Detroit, before returning to the friendly confines of 4th Street on Saturday for a rematch against the Heat.

Shout out to the Mequon Diesel

My question on the Orlando game: Will the Mequon Diesel (who relocated to Orlando) be in the house supporting the Bucks? If so, he needs to text me with some onsite analysis.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is Doucette's Dictionary accurate?

Since it is an off-day for the Bucks, I want to bring up an issue that has been bugging me.

The Milwaukee Bucks distribute a gameday program in the Courtside Club at the Bradley Center called "Tip Off". Its very cool. It is written in the mold of programs you used to be able to buy at the old Milwaukee Arena, in that it is geared entirely toward the Bucks: our players, personnel and team history. Frankly, it is a refreshing alternative to the generic "Hoop" program the NBA requires all arenas to offer as their main onsite publication.

One specific section I particularly enjoyed in "Tip Off" is "Doucette's Dictionary". As the name implies, this section provides and defines, in alphabetical order, a series of phrases allegedly coined by the original "Voice of the Bucks", the legendary Eddie Doucette.

I say "allegedly" because, while some of the phrases are obvious Doucetteisms that are cherised by every citizen of Bucks Nation -- such as "Bango!" (for successful deep jump shots, and of course, later adopted as the name of the team's mascot) "The toaster" (the lane, often used in conjunction with Sidney Moncrief) and, of course, "Sky hook" (Kareem's patented shot and my original blogger name) -- I think the magazine has given Eddie credit for phrases he did not coin, and would not claim to have coined. And, as a would-be conosseuir of all things Bucks, the issue has kind of been bugging me (which should indicate to the reader just how weirdly obsessed I am with the team).

Anyway, since this blog is a gathering spot for Bucks Nation, I put it to you to help me with my doubts. If some of these phrases credited to Doucette were actually coined by him, he has had a far more profound impact on basketball play-by-play than almost anyone, including Johnny Most and Chick Hearn. And perhaps he has. If so, I need to be schooled.

So below I list the most disputed phrases (in my mind) and their definitions as given in "Tip Off", with my own personal notes on each phrase provided in the parathensis. I ask for your comments.

Air Ball: A shot that misses the rim, board, and the net... ( Now, I'm almost positive this phrase was coined by Laker announcer Chick Hearn)

Back Door: A player goes "back door" when he drives baseline to the basket... (First, the definition is wrong. A player goes back door on a defender when he doesn't have the ball. Second, I think the term "back door" has been in general basketball use since at least the 1950's)

Boards: A term for rebounds...(This could very well be a Doucetteism, but its such an obvious term I find it hard to believe it was not in use prior to the inception of the Milwaukee Bucks)

Charity Stripe: Free throw line... (Again, this could very well be Eddie's, but its in such wide usage, I have my doubts)

D: Abbreviation for defense... (I know this wasn't a Doucette original... was it?)

Give and Go: When an offensive player gives the ball to a teammate, cuts to the basket, and then gets it back. (Once again, he may have coined it, but its so commonly used I have my doubts)

Goaltending: ('Tip Off' then gives the definition of a goaltend, as found in the NBA rulebook. Are they claiming Eddie Doucette came up with the official term? If so, what did people call the violation before he gave it a name?)

Hoop: Another word for basket... (He really came up with that?)

Shot Clock: 24 second clock... (Now this one can't be his, can it?)

There are a couple of other phrases (such as "strong side/weak side" and "the post") that I am sure were originated in the coaching ranks, but the above are the clear announcer type phrases that I am in doubt about.

In the future I'll list some classic (and undisputed) Doucetteisms contained in the article. Bucks fans will love them.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bucks Mo better now

He made it look so easy. SuperMo to the rescue!

The newly reactivated Mo Williams whipped off his preppy glasses (he had been wearing while on the injured reserve), put on his green and red cape, and singlehandedly saved the floundering Bucks from another disappointing loss Sunday afternoon. And he did it in heroic fashion with a series of fantastic plays that staved off the hardcharging New York Knickerbockers and gave the Bucks a dramatic 107-105 victory.

In truth, though, the outcome should have been decided much earlier. The Bucks had the matinee game more or less won until, near the end, they decided not to play any discernible defense whatsoever. They allowed the Knicks, who will never be confused with the Suns, to score a whopping 36 fourth quarter poiints, including basket after basket in the closing minutes. Luckily, the Bucks had Mo Williams to pull their eggs out of the frying pan.

Right back in the saddle

Mo Williams performance was nothing short of astonishing when one consider his period of inactivity. But that's Mo. He can get into an absolute zone, regardless of circumstance or opponent, and that's basically what happened against the Knicks. It still boggles the mind, though. Fresh off the injured reserve, the Alabama Assassin got off 26 shots and found the bottom of the net 13 times. Incredible.

Ruben's back, too

Ruben Patterson had a terrific game off the bench (Eff48: 40.61). After an outstanding month of December, the Bucks forward had been struggling, but against the Knicks he was back to his holiday form. Perhaps the return of Mo Williams was all he needed to get his groove back. He's a player that finds his offense, rather than creating it. He is an opportunistic scorer, in other words.

"No Names" produce big games for the Knicks

Everyone knows the New York Knicks have a ridiculous payroll of $139 million. Its ironic that their most consistently productive player, PF David Lee, accounts for less than 1/139th of that amount.

The guy is an absolute machine. The Bucks sure couldn't handle him, that's for sure. He recorded an Eff48 of 46.46 -- and this is over 30 plus minutes of action. He was magnificent. And he's been producing like that all season long. He may be the best white American player in the Association at the moment (of course, that's not saying much).

The only guy at the Bradley Center who was more productive than Lee was someone named Renaldo Balkman. No, not Rolando Blackman... that's what I thought, too. Balkman is a 6'8'' rookie SF who played 19 minutes on Sunday and spent every second thereof making positive contributions to the Knicks cause. He was so good he gets the"Chamberlain 61-62" award for yesterday's performance, recording a stratospheric Eff48 of 58.10.

Is Eddy Curry really an All-Star candidate?

As underrated as David Lee is... well, that's how overrated Eddy Curry suddenly seems to be. On Thursday night's TNT NBA Tip-off Show, the three analysts (Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Reggie Miller) presented their choices for Eastern Conference All-Star reserves. Barkley selected Curry as one of his reserves (the other two did not). The other two analysts jumped on him, but they did so more because of his exclusion of Jermaine O'Neal rather than his inclusion of Eddy Curry. In fact, nobody disputed Barkley's underlying premise that Curry is having an All-Star season.

Well, I will. Curry is not an All-Star. His overall numbers are decidedly mediocre (Eff48: 23.33). O'Neal's numbers are unquestionably superior (30.44). Even Andrew Bogut's numbers are better (25.86) than Curry's.

Curry is an effective scorer, but that's about it. He is a below average rebounder, a terrible ballhandler, and an atrocius passer (his passer rating is actually a negative number!!). Oh, and he's basically a turnover waiting to happen, averaging nearly 5 of them per 48 minutes played.

Sunday's game was a microcosm of Curry's season. He shot the ball quite well (he was 6 for 9), but he grabbed only 4 rebounds in 28 minutes of action (the accepted minimum for centers is about one rebound for every 4 minutes of action), which matched his number of turnovers. Not good. Oh, and he had zero assists, zero steals, and zero blocked shots.

Ilyasova: Milwaukee's Adam Morrison?

The Bucks injury woes this month have created a unique opportunity for rookie SF Ersan Ilyasova to show what he's got. And, for the most part, he's taken advantage of that opportunity. His Eff48 for the month of January (21.36) is the best among all Eastern Conference rookies who are averaging at least 20 minutes per game.

Have the Bucks once again found first round talent in the second round? Perhaps. To me Ilyasova looks quite a bit like Charlotte's Adam Morrison, who was drafted third overall.

Physically and athletically, the two are remarkably similar. They are both (essentially) small forwards who are about the same size. They both favor the perimeter game. Neither is much of a defender. (Although Ilyasova has shown signs of promise at various times).

Statistically, the comparison continues to hold, with Ilyasova having the edge in most categories. He is more productive, a better shooter, a much better rebounder, and a more willing driver. Morrison, on the other hand, is a better passer (which should embarass the hell out of Ersan) and a slightly better ballhandler.

Here is a rundown of the numbers, with Morrison's in Bobcat orange and Ilyasova's in Bucks green.

Adam Morrison vs. Ersan Ilyasova
Eff48: .................................12.33 vs. 17.62
Eff48 in January: .....................14.12 vs. 21.36

eFG: ...........................................41.4% vs. 43.3%
Jumpshot eFG: ................................39.9% vs. 42.8%
Basket Attack (FTA/FGA): ...................16.9% vs. 24.76%
Passer Rating: .................................5.4 vs. 1.9
Rebounder Rating: ...........................10.3 vs. 22.1
Ballhandler Rating: ........................... 13.7 vs. 9.5

Pts/48: ...............................................19.4 vs. 18.2
Reb/48: ..............................................4.7 vs. 10.2
Ass/48: ...............................................3.2 vs. 2.6
TO/48: ................................................2.6 vs. 2.7

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Horror that is the Bucks

When I coached Babe Ruth baseball my team always had one or two players who had no business playing baseball. They couldn't hit, they couldn't field, they didn't really even understand the rules. Yet, quite often numerical circumstances forced me to pencil them in the lineup. So I did. And so, when these particular players were in the field, I prayed the ball came nowhere near them. When they were at the plate, I prayed for a walk or a mild bean ball.

And when they failed, which they always did, I didn't get too upset... I expected it. They were trying their best... they simply weren't any good.

But then one day one of these unfortunate players, while "playing" rightfield, had a routine flyball miss his glove and bounce off his face. Off his face!

Well, that was more than I could take. I took the player out of the game. To most everyone's shock, I played the rest of the game with only eight men (the centerfielder and leftfielder split the difference and covered the entire outfield).

How does all this relate to the Bucks? If you caught any of last night's game, you will know. I had the same sensation watching the Bucks get plastered by the Clippers that I had when that ball bounced off that kid's teeth.

The Bucks, at the moment, are bad. I get that. No team can lose four key players and not experience a severe dropoff. That's cool. But what they can't be is bumbling. And last night they bumbled. That's not cool. That I won't accept. Each and every Bucks player is making a ridiculous amount of money to play in the Association and represent the franchise. Each and every one of them is presumably among the very best basketball players on Earth, aren't they? Therefore, what I saw last night I cannot accept. They have to do better than that or they might as well not even bother.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bucks bring the cold out west

The Bucks hoped for some West Coast warmth for their offense, especially against the weak defense Supersonics, but it didn't happen. They were ice cold all night long. And they were never in the game as Seattle crushed them, 99-72.

Among the strugglers for the Big Green Line were The Pearl, Earl Boykins, who was 1-for-10. Charlie Bell continued his season-long masonery apprenticeship with a 2-for-11 night, and Ersan Ilyasova, who must think he's a ROY candidate (he had a career high 22 the game before against the Bulls) as he hoisted a team high 14 shots and made but 3 of them.

When Ilyasova is your leading shottaker, you ain't gonna win. I turned the game off at halftime. It was that noncompetitive.

These west coast swings are usually never pretty for Milwaukee. This one promises to be especially brutal.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Pearl and Bogut Show

Who the hell is this guy playing center for the Milwaukee Bucks? He's got the same number he had a month ago, but he can't be the same player. Last month he appeared to be nothing more than Steve Stipanovich redux... if that... suddenly now his play recalls the spirit of '77, Blazermania, the Grateful Dead, riding bicycles in victory parades... in other words, the salad days of Bill Walton. Is it all a dream?

Remember, the Bucks have played some pretty weak teams in their last three games. Nevertheless, Bogut has been spectacular. Last night's performance was a poor man's version of Bill Walton's perfect game. He scored 42 efficiency points in 38 minutes. That's incredible production. That's a Chamberlin like Eff48 of 53.05. More than one efficiency point per minute of action. Astounding!

And its simply a continuation of what we have seen from this man for more than a month now. Bogut has been rebounding, assisting, scoring, blocking shots... just doing some extreme ballin, to paraphrase Ruben Patterson. He looks so much more determined. And its paying off. In the last 10 days (or 5 games), Bogut has the highest Eff48 score in the entire Association. His score over that stretch is a sensational 41.21. I love it. Keep it up Big Man.

Dawn of The Pearl

Speaking of ballin, how about Earl the Pearl? 30 points last night? As that moron Borat would say "Niiiice". This guy, at 5'5'' can just flat out score. He uses his quickness to compensate for his height. Because defenders fear his ability to "blow-by" they give him extra distance, thereby negating their height advantage over the Pocket Rocket. He has to be licking his chops. He could really put up some huge numbers from now until the Bucks starting backcourt returns.

I just hope he remembers to mix in some dimes every once in a while. He is the point guard, after all. At the moment though, I must admit points are at a premium.

Adam Morrison cannot be the ROY

The Bobcats have some nice young talent. Okafor is tough... Felton has some game... I like Sean May. That said, Adam Morrison is wildly overrated, and he is definetely not the Rookie of the Year. Those who promilgate such notions are just being lazy, or allowing themselves to be deceived by hype.

Morrison is actually playing poorly. He's fooling people with raw numbers. Last night, for instance, he scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Not bad for a rookie, you say, right? Well consider that he needed 34 minutes to produce those numbers, and more importantly, he needed 17 shots, more shots than anyone on the Bucks attempted. That's awful. A guy shooting 38% from the field should never get anywhere near 17 shots away. Yet he did.

That's been the story of his season. He puts up decent looking numbers, but they are merely volume numbers, not productive numbers, and thus he is hurting his team... those extra shots he is attempting should be taken by more proficient shooters. His Eff48 last night was a mere 12.70. And last night was, by his measure, a big rebounding night. (He only averages 3 boards per night.) Had he been on his average, his numbers would have been microscopic.

He shoots way too much, he misses too many of the shots he takes, he's mediocre from the free throw line, he really doesn't pass the ball at all, he's a very spotty and generally ineffective rebounder, and he is, by everyone's account, a laughable defender. All this adds up to an Eff48 that is a miserable 11.88. It is the lowest score amongst all players averaging over 30 minutes a game. Its bad.

I admire Morrison's tenacity and the determination he shows playing through his medical condition, but the bottom line is he's playing poorly. All this talk about him being the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year has to stop. Its ludicrous.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bucks Diary NBA Power Rankings

This is the latest update of my Power Rankings. Sorry its taken me a couple of weeks to update this. It is a tedious process, and with the holidays.... blah, blah, blah. Anyway, as always, these rankings are based strictly on offense/defense efficiency differentials.

As you will notice, the Phoenix Suns, my preseason pick to click, have made their way back to the top. As for the Bucks, they would have been higher had I updated my rankings two weeks ago, but since then, as Antlerheads know, they have sunk. But, as my two previous posts suggest, there is reason to keep the faith.

Meanwhile, the Bulls remain the top team in the East, the Rockets hang tough in the 4 spot despite the loss of Yao, and the Timberwolves and Raptors continue to quietly sneak up the rankings.

1. Phoenix Suns (+9.9)

2. San Antonio Spurs (+9.4)

3. Dallas Mavericks (+7.4)

4. Houston Rockets (+7.2)

5. Chicago Bulls (+4.9)

6. Detroit Pistons (+3.8)

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (+2.6)

8. Utah Jazz (+1.7)

9. Orlando Magic (+1.5)

10. Denver Nuggets (+1.4)

11. LA Lakers (+1.3)

12. Minnesota Timberwolves (+0.6)

13. New Jersey Nets (+0.4)

14. Washington Bullets (+0.0)

15. Sacramento Kings (0.0)

16. Indiana Pacers (-1.6)

17. Toronto Raptors (-1.7)

18. LA Clippers (-1.7)

19. Golden State Warriors (-2.1)

20. Miami Heat (-2.1)

21. New York Knickerbockers (-2.4)

22. Boston Celtics (-2.8)

23. Seattle Supersonics (-2.9)

24. Milwaukee Bucks (-3.1)

25. Philadelphia 76ers (-4.5)

26. Memphis Grizzlies (-4.7)

27. NOK Hornets (-4.8)

28. Charlotte Bobcats (-5.4)

29. Portland Trailblazers (-6.0)

30. Atlanta Hawks (-6.3)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Holy Bogut! But the Bucks still lose

What a night for the Croat/Aussie big man, Andrew Bogut. 20 points and a whopping 24 rebounds! An incredibly productive performance for the former top pick. Now the bad news: the Bucks still lost to the Seventy-Suckers.

But believe it or not, I'm not sweatin the loss too much. Sure, it would be nice to steal some wins, especially against crap teams. But, Bucks fans, take the long view. Sometimes losing lays the foundation for future winning.

Yeah, newspaper accounts will tell how the undermanned Sixers sucked it up better than the undermanned Bucks. Big deal. Look at the long view. The Sixers are undermanned because they have jettisoned their best players -- Iverson and Webber. They aren't getting them back. A win like last night's does nothing for them but harm their future draft status.

On the other hand, the Bucks are undermanned because of injuries. Thus, they are only looking at a medium term of suckitude. While wins are nice, the ultimate question is what happens in the meantime. Will the team emerge stronger, or just the same? Thus far key Bucks players are making good use of their meantime. And it looks like we just might have a stronger team on the other end, if present trends continue.

Bogut, Boykins, Bell... they can all use these games to get in the groove. Especially Bogut. These games are invaluable to his development. And he's playing like he knows it. He has 42 rebounds in the last two games. He's been marvelous.

The only thing that sucks is this stretch of games includes so many "automatic W's" that the Bucks are never going to be able to make up (Toronto at home, Philly, etc.). I wish that if we were going to have to suffer through a thin stretch like this, why couldn't it have been against top notch teams that we probably wouldn't have beaten anyway? That wouldn't have hurt so much. But losses to bottom feeders like Toronto and Philadelphia hurt bad.

But back to the good news. Bogut is finally asserting himself like nobody's business! He was Waltonesque last night. 24 rebounds! 42 in two games! That's like Bill Russell... Wilt the Stilt numbers! If he can keep this type productivity up, and carry it over when the team returns to full strength, then the stretch of suffering we have to endure will have been worth it. If Bogut finds his game during this down period, the Bucks will be a stronger team coming out of it. Maybe even championship level... but I didn't say that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More on the Boykins-Blake trade

Given that the Bucks reportedly received cash considerations in the amount of the remainder of Julius Hodge's contract, and given that he has basically been an NBDL player for most of the two years of his career, he appears to be a Reece Gaines (a throw-in who is unlikely to play).

So the trade boils down to Boykins for Blake. Looking at the numbers in depth between the two, they are even in most respects on offense, with Boykins having a better eFG% mainly because the little man can take it to the hole while Blake is allergic to paint. Otherwise, ass/mn and turnovers/mn are almost equal. So are their Ballhandler and Passer ratings.

Where the two differ, apparently, is on defense. Ironically, the miniscule Boykins appears to be a highly effective defender. When he was on the court, the Nuggets opponents' offensive efficiency went down (104.6on vs. 106.7off). Plus, the players Boykins guarded were restricted to a pretty low eFG (45.7%). That is under the average defensive eFG allowed by point guards.

Meanwhile, Blake's defense was, in a word... offensive. At least for Bucks fans. When Blake was on the court the Bucks' opposition's offensive efficiency rose dramatically (115.8on vs. 109.7off). And the player's Blake was asked to cover went wild. His defensive eFG (55.4%) would be high for a center; for a point guard it was ridiculous. On top of that, Blake was killing the Bucks' offense. When he was on the court the normally well-oiled Bucks offensive machine basically broke down (104.5on vs. 112.7off).

Larry Harris made this deal, basically, because he looked at the numbers I just gave you and saw only disaster for the team with Steve Blake as its starting PG. Boykins should be much better. And just wait until the team gets back to full strength. The Bucks second unit, with Villanueva (if he gets back this season) and Boykins, should be high-powered. Kudos again to the Lizard.

Bucks acquire Earl the Pearl and Julius too

In a move somewhat hinted at during last night's broadcast from the Bradley Center, the Bucks have traded PG Steve Blake to the Nuggets for PG Earl "The Pearl" Boykins and GF Julius "Don't Call Me Dr. J" Hodge. I love this deal. Blake did next to nothing in a Bucks uniform, and the Pearl has been a sparkplug everytime I've seen him play. Compare their Eff48 numbers for this season: Blake (11.61); Boykins (22.33). And Boykins has played far more minutes. Its no contest, Boykins is an upgrade.

I don't know much about Hodge. He hasn't played much (4 minutes a game) but has made pretty productive use of his time (Eff48: 23.12). Of course, at that low minute number, the efficiency numbers can be skewed (witness Damir Markota). However, he does look like one of those versatile, multiposition players with athleticism that Larry Harris loves.

Overall, another big score for Harris. How good does that Magliore deal look now? Harris has turned that stiff into the bruising Brian Skinner, and he has just flipped Blake into the electrifying Earl Boykins and the promising Julius Hodge.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bucks on life support

Its not fair. Just as the Bucks seemed to have their line-up set and seemed poised for a big run against a string of weak teams, they lose starters no.2 and 3 (I'm counting Simmons) as well as their top guy off the bench. This for a team that was paper thin to begin with. The results thus far have been predictable: loss after loss.

Andrew Bogut had a nice game tonight against Toronto, putting up 17 points and 17 rebounds. It was not nearly enough. In a lifeless game, the Bucks lost to another weak team they would ordinarily take apart at home. How bad are things? To be honest, the Raptors did not play very well and yet the Bucks were not even competitive.

The problem is obvious: zero offense. And no one to turn to for relief. 77 points against Toronto? From a Bucks team averaging 103? That's disastrous. Its clear that without offense, the Bucks are not much. And now they have no offense. You do the math.

It pisses me off. After a rough start, the Bucks were definitely trending upward. Now they're clearly sinking again. What a shame. Oh well, that's life as a Bucks fan, I guess. Were always paying for that early championship it seems.

Sign Webber?

Do you sign Webber as a band-aid? At a low dollar number, I would consider it. He wouldn't do much to bolster the offense, but he can hit shots. Again, at a low dollar number I might take a flier. The Bucks clearly need something. Would he come here? Probably not, unless he sees rapid recovery reports for key Bucks.

We miss you too, Teej

Asked after the game if he missed Milwaukee, TJ Ford's reply was blunt: "I'm glad to be in Toronto." Why the bitterness little fella?

Well, we don't miss you either you little 'no j' gunner. And may the Canadian dollar cost you more every day, that's all I have to say.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Defeat from the jaws of victory for Bucks

Antlerheads, that one hurt. The Bucks lost a game last night they absolutely had to find a way to win. On a night when Charlie Bell and Ruben Patterson held the phenomenal LeBron James under 8 points, on a night when the Bucks controlled the game almost throughout against a top flight team at home, the Bucks lost.

It got away so suddenly. I have a theory that every NBA game has a tipping point. That point from which there is no turning back -- one team is destined for victory, the other defeat. For some reason, when you're at the game, you can almost sense the tipping point. Its weird. Anyway, last night I correctly identified the game's tipping point. To my horror, however, I had the equation backwards.

There were about 5 minutes and change left, I believe. The Bucks led 82-74 and were in clear control. I turned to my girlfriend and said "The Bucks get a stop here and its over. Fini." I truly believe it would have been, too. Everything was going Milwaukee's way. But they couldn't get that damn stop. Instead, PF Brian Skinner fouled Drew Gooden on a fadeaway prayer he threw up in the lane. Gooden then went to the line, sank both throws, and the Bucks troubles began. From that point on, Cleveland absolutely dominated the impotent Bucks, outscoring them 21-4 on their home parquet. It was a gruesome sight.

Terry Stotts has to accept a measure of blame for the disheartening defeat. Inexplicably, he allowed Mo Williams to linger on the bench for far too long as the Cavs seized control. It was maddening. He didn't get Williams in the game until the 8 point lead had become a 4 point deficit. Furthermore, he needed to put a tourniquet on the Bucks bleeding wound far earlier. He did not call a timeout until it was way too late. What was he waiting for?? Again, maddening.

Game Notes

...Michael Redd has to sense when his shot is not falling and then back off. He cost the Bucks by forcing the issue on several possessions. He wasn't hitting anything last night. Is the new old ball bothering him?

...Brian Skinner has turned the Bucks season around, no question. But last night he got absolutely worked by the underrated Cavalier PF Drew Gooden.

...LeBron James showed last night that he is the true MVP in the Association, not World B. Arenas. When his scoring isn't there he can turn to other aspects of his game and still be a force for Cleveland. His basketball intelligence is acute. Last night, when he came to understand it wasn't his night scoring-wise, he began to set his teammates up like a young Larry Bird. Arenas, on the other hand, is lost if his shot isn't falling. He needs to score 35+ just for the Bullets to win.

...The box score will say the Cavaliers dominated the offensive glass last night. That is not a completely accurate picture, however. Time and again the Cavaliers outside shots were so far off the mark that the rebounds were going over the Bucks heads. And I would rather have the Bucks turning and moving toward the glass than have them linger on the perimeter. You can't wait back and assume a shot is going to be a brick. It just so happened that many of the Cavalier shots last night were just that.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Arenas got his

This time the Bucks were burned by the Human Shoot-a-Way machine, Gilbert Arenas. Arenas buried a three pointer, shot from near Anacostia I believe (and with a hand in his face), as time expired to deliver the win to the red hot Washington Bullets, 108-105. As a Bucks fan, you can live with that. Sure, Charlie Bell probably should have crowded Arenas much earlier in the possession (you knew there was no way Arenas was going to pass), but hey, the guy made a tough shot. That'll happen. The Bucks have nothing to hang their heads about.

In fact, playing a back-to-back against a pretty good team -- a team the Bucks humiliated a few short nights ago -- with their star shooter looking to get back at you -- this game had the makings of a blowout loss for the Red and Green. It was not. In fact, it was the Bullets who needed to rally from behind, late in the game just to beat the Bucks.

All things considered, I was pretty impressed with the team's effort last night. They really battled. They led most of the second half against an opponent that is playing very well and is especially tough at home. The Bucks are playing with obvious confidence.

Only two things really bothered me. One, Bogut reverted to his early season form, putting up very weak numbers. Not all his fault, but he needs to be more assertive. He has to be involved every night for the team to be at top form. Two, you cannot let anyone, I don't care if its Dr. J, go 13-17 against you as Caron Butler did against the Bucks last night. You just cannot let it happen. No one is that good, save for Kareem or Wilt. So at some point you say, I don't care what happens but this guy is not scoring anymore... we're cooling him down if we have to sit him down. That's just tough basketball.

But Bucks fans should take this positive thought away from last night's heartbreaking loss -- four of the Bucks' 6 main contributors turned in subpar performances, while at the same time the Bullets received monster games from their Big 3 -- and yet the Bucks almost won -- and probably should have won. I hate moral victories, but I'll live with this one.

Other Random Notes

...Did the Heat really suspend James Posey for having 9% bodyfat instead of 8%? You have to be shitting me. I would give myself a vacation and a huge attaboy if I ever saw the sunny side of 9% bodyfat again. What's going on in Miami? That ship is about to do some capsizing.

...Word out of Memphis is the Grizzlies are bleeding money and in severe financial trouble. It seems they may not last in that area. I knew this was coming. Let me explain. Last year, while vacationing in Mexico, I met a guy from Memphis who said he was a big Tennessee Vols fan. I asked him if he was also a Grizzly fan. Imagine asking a die-hard Republican if he voted for Al Gore, and you will understand the way this guy told me "hell no". His answer was such that it seemed to treat the entire notion of being a Grizzly fan as absurd, which, by the tone of his answer, I took to be the consensus attitude amongst like minded Memphis sports fans. And the Grizzlies were doing well at the time. That franchise just can't buy a break.

...Someone gave me a Bucks shirt for Christmas. Its one of those gray jersey shirts in Bucks lettering you see from time to time (usually with No. 22 and the name "Redd" on the back)... only mine is No. 10 with the name "Dandridge" on the back. I'm using it as a Bucks fan litmus test. If someone asks me, "Who the hell is Dandridge?"...well, they're not a true Antlerhead. On the other hand, if someone says "Hey Bobby D!"... they are fit to wear the rack.

...Here's an illustration of the folly behind the average fan's obsession with scoring numbers: A cursory look at last night's boxscore and most will conclude that Charlie Bell had a decent game while Brian Skinner had a decidedly so-so game, principally because Bell scored 14 points while Skinner tallied only 8. In fact, Skinner had an outstanding game while Bell was awful. In his 25 minutes of action, Skinner contributed to the team in nearly every way possible, recording the aforementioned 8 points, along with 9 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 steals, and one assist. When combined with only two missed shots, one missed free throw, and zero turnovers you have a monster 42.21 Eff48 night for the big man. He was superior. On the other hand, Charlie Bell pitched in with his 14 points, plus 5 assists and 5 rebounds, but he missed 11 shots and 2 free throws, and turned the ball over 3 times. Thus he was singlehandedly responsible for 15 empty possessions. That's bad. Plus, his contributions came over 42 minutes of action, so he wasn't nearly as productive with his playing time as Skinner. In fact, when you add it all up Charlie Bell had yet another disappointing night when it came to overall productivity, scoring a terrible 10.42 Eff48. So don't let scoring totals fool you.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mike Kahn is at it again

I always enjoy reading Mike Kahn's "Ten Things We Learned in the NBA This Week" column on foxsports. Partially because it never makes any sense. Here's his latest headscratcher.

His No. 4 item this week, you will notice, concerns your Milwaukee Bucks. I have read it and reread it... and still I can't make sense of it. He mentions that the Bucks are on a roll, that's true, but then rather than following this by making a point about what significance their short-term success has, he instead goes into this litany of either bogus issues (trading Michael Redd?? Whoever brought that up?) or old, irrelevant news (the Bucks overpaid for Bobby Simmons... we learned that last week, huh?). Then he basically implies that Senator Kohl is presiding over a house of cards that is destined to collapse and will always be a "poor stepchild".

To quote Jules Winfield, "Well, allow me to retort...".

First, as for overpaying on Simmons... why didn't he also mention that the Bucks lost Bobby Dandridge to free agency, or that they didn't get enough for Kareem? Those would also qualify as extremely old and irrelevant concerns. And as for Simmons, I'm not even convinced they overpaid. But that's an argument for another day.

Second, his column vaguely alludes to an imaginary conspiracy theory that I'm tired of hearing. Namely, that Senator Kohl held onto the Bucks instead of selling them because it somehow benefited him in his reelection bid. Now that he has won reelection, this line of thinking goes, its likely he will dump them to the first bidder.

This is the most idiotic 'concocted from thin-air' argument I've ever heard, but its repeated over and over again as though its fact. Its not. Its completely illogical. For one thing, keeping the Bucks won Kohl exactly.... ohh... let me estimate... zero votes. In fact, I would argue that selling the Bucks would have probably won him votes outstate.

More importantly, for those of you outside Wisconsin, Senator Kohl had no chance of losing reelection. Zero. How lopsided was his reelection bid? Let me put it to you this way... I couldn't even tell you who his opponent was! Seriously. Whoever it was, he/she was put up as a mere sacrificial lamb because Kohl is close to unbeatable in a statewide race. And as it turned out, predictably, his margin of victory over whomever his challenger was made Nixon/McGovern look like an absolute photo finish. And none of the exit polling I saw listed "He didn't sell the Bucks" anywhere on the list of reasons that motivated Kohl supporters. So any master scheme he supposedly had involving his political future and the sale of the Bucks is absolute fantasy made up by sports journalists who know nothing at all about politics.

The fact is many NBA franchises are losing money, and many are looking for new arenas as a panacea to this problem, not just the Bucks. This is an Association-wide issue that is not specific to any one team. The Bucks are no better nor worse off than most, and for Mike Kahn to try to suggest that they are somehow a sinking ship that is "forever destined to be the poor stepchild"... well, that's just Mike Kahn being Mike Kahn. He's got a lot of learning to do.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Big Holiday Season in BucksNation

Ruben Patterson said he was just 'ballin'....just ballin'. Whatever. He was getting it done, that's for sure. He and Mo Williams are my co-players of the month for December. Both put up spectacular numbers.

Honorable mention goes to C Andrew Bogut who must have had an epiphany sometime early in the month. From that point on he turned it on and stopped playing like the washout ledfoot he was prior thereto.

Take notice of one thing on the production list below. Michael Redd's Eff48 of 24.99 is about average for him, and actually down from last month. Yet the Bucks had a great month. He needs to take that to heart. He's like Brett Favre in a way. When he tries to do it all, or do to much, his efforts become counter-productive. He needs to trust his teammates.

Special December Mention: Fan of the month goes to my nephew Charlie (pictured above). He turned one on the 23rd. Two guesses who gave him the home uniform Bango Buck he's holding. Its a subtle indoctrination tactic (he's a native borne Minnesotan).

Milwaukee Bucks Eff48 scores for December

R Patterson....29.17 (+10.77)
M Williams....29.16 (+7.77)
A Bogut....28.40 (+5.69)
M Redd....24.99 (-2.45)
C Villanueva....23.89 (-6.69)
C Skinner....20.16 (+2.68)
C Bell....17.42 (+2.33)
D Gadzuric....16.24 (-6.40)
D Noel....16.17 (-11.31)
E Ilyasova....13.50 (-0.15)
S Blake....11.75 (+2.39)