Bucks Diary

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Michael Redd vs. The Boston Strangler

In a theoretical post a week ago entitled "Bucks should trade Michael Redd", I off-handedly compared Redd to another #22, former 76ers SG Andrew Toney, aka "The Boston Strangler". My point was that, like Toney, Redd could be an important component of a winning, championship team, but that, like Toney, he could never stand alone as the team's key component.

I decided to compare the two player's career numbers to see how accurate my historical analogy was. It turned out to be eerily accurate (which is surprising because most of my historical analogies are bullshit). In fact, if you equalize the minutes and attempts from the field, and flip-flop Redd's rebounding numbers with Toney's assist numbers, they are almost equal. Indeed, their career Eff48 scores are almost exactly equal (Redd: 23.82; Toney: 23.80).

If you recall back to the 80s, Toney, while deadly in the playoffs, needed the combination of Julius Erving and Moses Malone to win a title. And my point in the aforementioned post was that Michael Redd, while a spectacular scorer, will need something on that order to get the Bucks over the top. And, given that he will eat up a large chunk of the Bucks cap number for years to come, and that the Bucks are not exactly positioned to take on any amount of a luxury tax penalty, Redd's salary probably prohibits the Bucks from building a championship team. Of course, extended overpayments to both Dan Gadzuric and Bobby Simmons don't help the situation either (they combine to eat up almost as much of the cap as Redd for about as long).

Redd vs. Toney

Michael Redd........Eff48 (23.82)....PPG (19.3)....FG%(45.1%)....Rpg (4.2)....Apg (2.0)
Andrew Toney........Eff48(23.80)....PPG (15.9)....FG% (50.0%)....Rpg (2.2)....Apg (4.2)

Bucks steamroll Golden State

As bad as the Bucks have been this season, there is no way you will beat them if you play no defense and you get poor production from your frontline starters. The Golden State Warriors proved this point on Tuesday night in front of a sparse Bradley Center gathering, as the Bucks destroyed them, 122-101.

Check out the Bucks Diary Eff48 boxscore below. It tells you all you need to know. The Bucks top 5 players (I only include those who log at least 20 minutes of action) all scored above a 32.00. That's incredible production. Meanwhile, the Warriors frontline starters tallied very weak numbers, with starting center Biedrins scoring only a 6.80 (substitute Josh Powell's 54.85 is a bit of an aberration as he only played 21 minutes, and a lot of them in junk time).

The Bucks perimeter players were also free to bomb 3 pointers at will on Tuesday night, and Andrew Bogut completely dominated the overhyped (by FSN, at least) Latvian Andres Biedrins.

Redd looks fine

Michael Redd is proving I should keep my medical opinions to myself. After it looked as though he was in great pain against the Knicks on Friday night, he's looked as spry as can be against the Sixers and then again last night against the Warriors. He was magnificent in both games. In the process he's made me look like Dr. Nick Riviera.

Bell surging

Charlie Bell also continues his second half surge, with a terrific game. He seems to play off Redd extremely well. When he gets both feet set and is able to launch his jumpshot unhindered, he gets great rotation on the ball and is much more accurate.

Bucks Diary Eff48 Boxscore



Friday, February 23, 2007

You cannot be serious, ref!

The Bucks must be star-crossed. They can't catch a break anywhere. Last night they lost a hard fought game against the New York Knickerbockers on one of the most ridiculous foul calls in the history of basketball. Let me set the action for those who didn't see it.

The game was tied at 93-93. With about 17 seconds left in the fourth, the Knicks had control of the final possession. They inbounded to Marbury about five feet behind the top of the key. He held the ball and waited way too long to get into the play, and he ended up having to take a weak fadeaway from the right side of the lane with no time remaining. The shot missed badly. Overtime, right?

No! One of the officials, and I use that term loosely, called a phantom foul on Andrew Bogut. That was bad enough. You don't call touch fouls if their going to decide the game. But here's the worst part -- the alleged foul occured way away from the action! You never, never, never make that call. Not in high school intramurals, not in pee wee YMCA ball... nowhere! An off-the-ball foul on the final possession that provided no advantage and in no way affected play? You have to be shitting me. That call was the basketball equivalent of Richard Steele's stoppage of Taylor-Chavez with five seconds left in the final round. I still can't believe it.

Redd appears in serious pain

I don't know if he'll admit it, but Michael Redd is playing with serious pain, at least that's the way it looks. In fact, it looks so bad he might want to consider shutting it down for a long time, because these type injuries only get worse if their not rested.

I've had knee tendinitis similar to Redd's. It sucks. It hurts badly, its hard to shake off, and just when you think its gone it comes back from seemingly nowhere and it feels like a butcher knife thrust into your kneecap.

Redd's pain was obvious. If you had a chance to watch the end of the game, you might have noticed he was not running on two legs so much as he was hopping on his one good leg and gingerly dragging the other leg along. No planting or cutting or pushing off on the bad leg at all. That indicates it was giving him serious difficulty. When my tendinitis would flare up, that's exactly what I used to do. Its almost a subconscious reaction. You're afraid to put full weight on the affected leg, because too much weight brings an incredibly sharp pain to the area, so you kind of eggshell step.

Best outcomes for Bucks?

I'm going to write something slightly sacreligious here, and really loserish, but something I think is true. These close, hard fought losses the Bucks have been suffering in the last few days might be the best possible outcomes for the team. They have no shot at the postseason, so at this point wins only worsen their lottery odds. Yet, for the sake of the long-term psyche of the organization and its fans, you don't want the losses to be demoralizing blowouts. Thus the close losses serve two purposes. They improve the Bucks' draft odds while at the same time preserving at least a modicum of plausible optimism for the future.

Bucks Diary Eff48 Box Score (listed from most productive to least)

M Williams.... 37.46
Villanueva.... 26.40
Patterson..... 23.17


Bucks should trade Michael Redd

How's that for flamebait? Actually, I'm being serious. I just read a rather compelling (and frankly sobering) article posted on nbadraft.net entitled "The GoldMedalSuperstar Theory" (its a two part article and you can read it here and here). The article was very well researched and forcefully written and argued. Its central conclusion, in a nutshell, is the following: Any team that hopes to win an NBA championship had better have at least one player who projects as a GoldMedalSuperstar, and preferably more than one.

So what the hell's a GoldMedalSuperstar you ask? Without going too far into the article's self-contained terminology (you can look at it yourselves if you are interested), GoldMedalSuperstars are determined by toting the number of All-NBA and MVP votes a player receives over the course of his career. The twenty highest cumulative vote getters under this tabulation are deemed... GoldMedalSuperstars. And here's the really sobering rub. It turns out that nearly 80% of all NBA championships were won by teams who were led by at least one of these elite GoldMedalSuperstars.

And that's not all. Simply to get to an NBA Finals you should have at least one or more of the top 84 all-time vote getters on your roster (or players -- like Dwayne Wade, for instance -- who project into that category over the lifetime of their careers). Without such players on your roster, the historical odds of getting to the mountaintop are miniscule.

Which brings me back to the title of this post. If you buy the article's thesis, and its rather persuasive, then you must conclude that the Bucks will never sniff an NBA title with Michael Redd on their roster. Not because he is useless. Rather because he is not useful enough to justify the amount of salary cap room he eats. Following the GoldMedalSuperstar theory's logic, you have to reserve your max dollar designation for truly special players. And Redd, while good, is not truly special. He's a scorer who could be a component on an NBA championship team (think Andrew Toney, for example) but its highly unlikely you can build an NBA champion around him. He's too one-dimensional. He's almost a flashy role player, in other words.

Now, there are potential holes in the GoldMedalSuperstar theory (for instance, the possibility exists that the votes are circular, in other words, once a player wins a championship he then garners many more MVP and All-NBA votes as a result... I don't know that, I just bring it up as a possible criticism). However, in the case of Michael Redd and the Bucks, I think the argument's logic is fairly ironclad. If you want to see a crown on the Green-and-Red and dance in the middle of Kilbourn anytime soon, it would be wise to remove Mr. Redd's salary from your ledgers and hope and pray that with that space you can attract a rare talent someday soon.

Footnote: Of course, the possibility exists that the Bucks could get Greg Oden or Kevin Durant in the draft. They might be top 84 talents who, in their inexpensive early years, could lead the Bucks back to glory. In that case, Redd's salary would not be a hinderance. But that's really more of a pipe dream.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bucks are still wanting

You know what your name is? I'll tell you what your name is. Your name is "you're wanting", because you can't play this man's game; You can't close em. -- Blake (Alec Baldwin) from Glengarry Glen Ross

With Michael Redd back in the lineup, the Bucks are still only good enough to lose -- whether its a muck-in-the-mud game like Tuesday's loss to Detroit, or an ABA style shootout like last night's loss to the Indiana Pacers. They can come close, but they just can't close. They're wanting.

Last night was the same old story as its been throughout the new year. The Bucks were thoroughly outplayed upfront. Outrebounded, outshot, outworked... the whole nine yards. This is starting to get comical. I mean, how many times am I going to have to read a box score and see that an opponents PF grabbed a ton of rebounds, scored above his average, and did so with very few missed shots (meaning very little resistance)? That's what happened last night again. In a nutshell: the Pacers bigs put up big, big numbers, while the Bucks got below average production from Bogut and Patterson, and I think Skinner might have missed the flight to Indiana. Also, for the second night in a row, the Bucks got crushed on the boards.

Mo better Mo

On the plus side, Mo Williams broke out of his personal slump with a terrific game. He's been struggling lately, but not last night. Redd gets all the props, but Williams, when he's on his game, can be as productive as any Buck. The key for him is to think assists, scavenge rebounds, and get his shot to fall early.

Redd clutch, but not sharp

A lot of people think because I'm obsessed with the Eff48 statistic I must be like one of those baseball nerds who sits in his parents basement with equations dancing in his head, pondering the formula for world domination. Not so. Not at all. I actually hate math. Why do I use the arcane formula? Because the traditional basketball statistics are totally misleading, especially points per game. I hate them. Not only are they misleading, they provide perverse incentives. Michael Redd is the classic example of what I mean.

Take Michael Redd's game last night. Yeah, he scored 38, and hit some unbelievably clutch shots down the stretch, and, yeah, he's guaranteed to get some nice run on Sportscenter, but, believe it or not, he really had a below average game! Why? He was hurting the Bucks almost as much as he was helping them.

First, he missed more shots than he made (13-for-28). That's poor. He also missed 3 free throws. Then he turned the ball over 5 times. So, while Redd did score 38, he was also responsible for somewhere around 22 empty trips that could have resulted in 44 or more points for the Bucks. On top of that, he contributed a mere 2 assists and 1 rebound. Your max guy has to do better than that. (that's the one thing that is so aggravating about Redd. How do you handle the ball so many times, draw so much defensive attention, and still leave the court with only 2 assists?? Was he wearing horse blinders? And, when you are responsible for so many missed shots, how do you only get one rebound? The shooter has the best idea where the carom will bound. I just think Redd only cares about scoring.)

Eff48 is hardly a perfect statistic. But I just think its a more interesting and more definitive means of evaluating each player's performance. Therefore, I am going to make an effort to calculate and post Eff48 box scores after every remaining Bucks game.

One final point. Imagine if Eff48 were the predominant statistic in basketball, rather than scoring. If that were the case, I'd bet you dollars to donuts Michael Redd's game would change dramatically. He would finally have an incentive to pass up some of those piss poor shots he takes, because he would realize those shots have a very low percentage of going in, and thus are likely to actually cost him important statistical points. In fact, he might even think about looking for and passing the ball to an open teammate. I'm serious, it could happen.

What's happened to Earl the Pearl?

The return of Redd has thus far coincided with the disappearance of Earl Boykins. He is totally lost on the court. He has contributed next to nothing since the All-Star break.
He can't find his role. Redd is eating up the shots he had when he arrived from Denver, and he can't adjust. Strangely, for a little guy, he isn't much of a playmaker. It seems a waste. With his quickness he could open things up for his teammates. But that doesn't appear to be his game. He's more comfortable looking for his own opportunities, or having his teammates set him up. Its odd, but he seems to be a 5'5'' shooting guard.

Bell going the other way... kind of

While the Pearl is sinking, Bell is rising. So to speak. To quote The Doors, he's been down so goddamn long that it looks like up to him. Since the All-Star break he's actually put together what could be considered -- for him -- two productive games. He's still having a horrible season, though. But its not too late for him to redeem it. He started his productive push about the same time last year.

Eff48 Box Score

Redd 24.00
Skinner 2.18
Bogut 20.21
Bell 20.26
Mo 38.15
Ruben 16.5
Earl 8.72
Ilyasova 25.84
Reiner 20.86

Granger 32.32
O’Neal 36.26
Murphy 36.32
Dunleavy 18.00
Tinsley 11.16
Foster 8.72
Armstrong 12.79
Daniels 32.91

Bucks lose it on the boards

After a ridiculous NBA All-Star break, Michael Redd made his long awaited comeback for the Bucks. It was as if he never came back. The Bucks lost again.

Redd looked quite rusty, as was to be expected. He had an off-game, but the Bucks kept it competitive through... defense!! The problem was they were beaten off the boards. The Bucks outshot the Pistons (eFG 46.5% to 42.8%), had the same number of turnovers (14), but were a -10 in the rebounding category (48 to 38), with the Pistons doubling up the Bucks on the offensive boards (18 to 9), giving them 12 additional field goal attempts. Detroit used the extra "reloads" to their advantage, getting the win on the Bradley Center hardwood, 84-83.

A couple of disturbing trends continued. Ever since his shoulder injury, and excepting his great game against the Knicks, Bucks PG Mo Williams has struggled mightily. Last night was no exception. In the last 10 games he's had an Eff48 of 18.64. That's way too low. By comparison, his Eff48 in the successful month of December was 29.65. (Making the situation worse last night, Earl the Pearl actually had a counterproductive night. See below.) Also, the Bucks continue to allow too much production from the opponents 4 spot. Last night they didn't go crazy (Rasheed Wallace Eff48: 26.52; Antonio McDyess Eff48: 34.56) but it would be nice to see the Bucks shut down the 4 spot just once. They couldn't do it last night.

Here are the Bucks' Eff48 numbers from last night:


Respect for KG

Everyone keeps saying the Timberwolves need to trade Garnett to a contender. I've always contended "Why?". Where is it written that superstars deserve to be traded if their team's suck? Just so they can get a championship for their mythical "legacies"? I've never bought into that notion.

And it seems neither has KG. When asked whether he would demand a trade from Minnesota he said no. He thinks the team should build around him rather than trading him. Thank you, KG.

The Wolves have one of the best talents of this generation and they can't seem to do anything with him. Under the mathematical formula that evaluates the number of extra wins a player brings to a team, Garnett is consistently amongst the NBA's most winning players. The problem is the garbage around him adds nothing. The Wolves have no concept how to build around Garnett. They need to ship out their management, not Garnett.

Photo Credit: AP/Darren Hauck

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Parsing Larry and other thoughts

Bucks general manager Larry Harris answered questions yesterday regarding the job status of coach Terry Stotts. In such situations, a general manager is normally not free to say what he genuinely thinks, so, as fans, we have to read between the lines. Let's try:

1. "I haven't really thought about it. Terry and I have been targeting toward getting Michael back and making a final push at the playoffs. Terry and I are on the same page with that agenda."

Translation: The first sentence is completely disingenuous. When you are general manager of a team that has lost 19 of 22, of course you think about the coach's status. The second sentence is delusional. The Bucks have no hope of getting into the playoffs this season. Harris knows this. The third sentence is odd. Either its simply a poorly chosen mixed metaphor or Harris is implying that there are other issues or "agendas" upon which the two disagree.

2. "I'm the GM he's the coach. I don't want to evade the issue, its a very sensitive issue."

Translation: I think in the first sentence Harris is trying to distance himself from the ultimate fate of Stotts. 'We are not arm-in-arm' he seems to be saying. The second sentence is laced with irony. "I don't want to evade the issue". Of course he does. In fact, the entire interview is one long exercise in him trying his damndest not to address the Stotts issue while at the same time apperating to address it.

3. "We're all aware of the injuries we've had. We are going to continue to play hard and our guys are not going to give up."

Translation: In the first sentence Harris is implying that he's tired of the injury excuse and that he doesn't fully buy it. The second sentence is either wishful thinking or a bit of parental lecturing for the players ears ("you will eat your dinner and then you will do your homework").


So what was the underlying message Harris was trying to get across? Here's my take. First, I he is clearly not happy with Stotts' performance. Why do I think that? Because nowhere in his comments does he even try to mount a defense for Stotts. All he does, really, is rationalize giving him a stay of execution.

In fact, if you did an abstract summation of Harris' "comments within his comments", it might read like this:

"Yeah, Stotts is doing crappy, but I can't fire him yet. Either I don't have anyone lined up who I think would do better, or someone with a higher pay grade told me I couldn't. So I guess he's our coach for the duration. And as such I better not undermine him with any of my comments otherwise I'll be going down the eventual shitter right along with him. I can't quite justify firing him now because he's got that injury excuse to lean on. Kind of weak, but we'll see. If he can turn things around when Redd gets back, and get us into the playoffs, then I'll keep him. I doubt he will, but either way, we're probably stuck with the guy for the rest of the season. So stick it out with us Bucks fans because we are going to keep trying really, really hard. We sure are."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stuff your lame excuses, Terry

Here's the thing. Its all well and good for the Bucks to talk about how injuries have depleted them... blah, blah, blah. That just doesn't fly. Here's why. The thing that's killing them is they play no defense. And defense is not about players, it's all about effort. Bob Knight, Dick Bennett, Bo Ryan... hell, there are thousands of examples of great coaches who took the most unathletic players and molded them into a great defensive unit. But Terry Stotts cannot seem to do that. And that speaks directly to his lack of acumen as a head coach.

Take last night, for instance. What a disgusting display. Paul Pierce and Gerald Green combined to go 10 for 13 from three point range. No way. Cannot happen. But it did, and that, Coach Stotts, is on YOU. And all he does about it is slap himself on the forehead.

Redd will treat the symptoms, not the disease

My point is, the Bucks offense is okay. Its middle of the pack. But the defense is the absolute bottom of the barrel. They are almost giving up more pts per 100 possessions than the Suns are scoring per 100 possessions. In other words, the Bucks defense is so bad it is making every team in the NBA look as high powered as the Phoenix Suns. That's why they can't compete and why, on the nights they do compete, they can't finish. And that's why this whole thing about "wait till Michael Redd gets back" is such a canard. What's going to happen when Redd gets back? He'll improve the offensive efficiency, no doubt, but the underlying defensive problem will still exist. The foundation of the Terry Stotts Bucks is made of mush.

And what's really annoying is the way Stotts concocts excuses for the situation rather than owning it. And he can't even keep his excuses straight anymore. In a radio interview the other day he started out with the old, tired "wait till our guys get back" excuse, and then, probably realizing mid-sentence that only Michael Redd was out (this was before the Dallas game), he turned to his latest loser's lament. I'm paraphrasing here, but his latest excuse is something like "well, at least we're losing close games now." I wanted to barf. Then I heard him trot the same lame excuse out during the Bucks Radio Network pre-game last night. Then his team got blown out by the team with the worst record in basketball. What excuse is he going to come up with now?

He's got to go.

Photo Credit: AP/Michael Dwyer

Your Milwaukee Sucks

35 years ago last month, in one of the franchise's proudest hours, a great Milwaukee Bucks team snapped the Los Angeles Lakers 33 game winning streak. Last night, in one of the franchise's most shameful hours, a godawful Milwaukee Bucks team snapped the Boston Celtics 18 game losing streak.

How bad is this situation going to get? Watching and then blogging about the Bucks, I suddenly feel like Herbert Morrison reporting on the Hindenburg crash. ("This is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world!") The Mequon Diesel summed it all up perfectly in his text to me after the Boston Massacre finally ended last night: "That hurts." True. Blown out by a Celtic team that hadn't won in 18 games. So true.

And the whole thing was even worse than the final score indicates. You take away the first quarter -- in which the Bucks came out aggressively and looked as good as they've looked in weeks -- and you have an absolute bloodbath. A bloodbath. In the final three quarters the Bucks were outscored by an incredible 98-65. By a team that hadn't won in their last 18 games!

How did it happen? The Bucks played absolutely no defense whatsoever, and several Celtics took advantage. As promised, PF Al Jefferson had a field day, recording an Eff48 of 37.77. He is just the latest PF to eat Milwaukee's lunch. But he had plenty of company at the feast table. Paul Pierce went absolutely wild, ending the night with an Eff48 of 38.65. (Memo to the Bucks: Pierce has made a living hitting 3's. It might be a good idea to guard him out there.) And GF Gerald Green, who is a long way from being an All-Star, recorded an incredible Eff48 of 50.40. Letting him get off was inexcusable. In his twenty minutes of action, the Bucks made him look like Tracy McGrady. How do you let a guy who is a career 43% FG shooter go 8-for-9 against you? For Judas sake, he was 5-for-5 from behind the arc! Wanna get a hand in his face... Anyone?!

I'm too pissed to write anymore right now, but I will have some venom in the next couple of days. The issue I leave you with is this: will Terry Stotts still be the Bucks coach in the next couple of days? I hope not. He's a dead man walking. Why not put him out of his misery, Senator (and ours)?

Photo Credit: AP/Michael Dwyer

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bet on Celtics Al Jefferson tonight

There are few mortal locks in sports. But I would say with almost certainty that the Boston Celtics' PF Al Jefferson will have a big night tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks.

First, Jefferson is a terrific young talent who is having a great month. His February Eff48 is 29.02. Second, as I have chronicled ad nauseum, power forwards have been feasting on the Bucks. Third, I haven't heard anything, but I seriously doubt Charlie Villanueva will play tonight (as if he would have provided a lot of resistance). Finally, the Bucks are coming off a tough game with the Dallas Mavericks last night and probably will not be playing on much sleep.

All this adds up to big numbers for the Boston big man. I'll be interested to see what transpires.

Here are the February Eff48's of the likely starting lineups for tonight's "big" game (well, its the first Bucks game getting any media run in a long time):

Boston Celtics
PF: Al Jefferson (29.02)
SF: Paul Pierce (24.00)
C: Brian Scalabrine (12.95)
SG: Ryan Gomes (17.26)
PG: Delonte West (16.66)

Milwaukee Bucks
FC: Andrew Bogut (20.50)
FC: Brian Skinner (14.80)
SF: Ruben Patterson (26.32)
SG: Charlie Bell (22.41)
PG: Mo Williams (20.15)

Photo Credit: NBA/Getty Images

Journal-Sentinel calls for Stotts firing

Its one thing for the bloggers of BucksNation to demand the firing of Bucks head coach Terry Stotts. We can do so with impunity, because we really do it without much accountability. As such, our arguments can often be dismissed. So we can build an analytical case, but ultimately, its impact is often like the impact of pebbles hitting the ocean. We can only hope the tiny ripples we make join forces with other likeminded readers who turn those ripples into waves.

But that's not the case when regular media like the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel weighs in. They are their own wave generating machines.

So it was highly significant when yesterday the Journal-Sentinel's top sports editorial writer, Michael Hunt (btw: I know what you're thinking: "phone call for Mike Hunt") called for the ouster of Stotts. When regular media types start to beat the drum, as Hunt clearly is doing, its all but over.

I urge you to read his thoughtful piece, and you can find it here.

Photo Credit: Mike Hoffman

Not Happening for the Bucks

Watching last night's game, I never felt like the Bucks were going to beat the Dallas Mavericks. Even when they had a 16 point lead. It was an irrational feeling, but it was correct.

I think I had that feeling because, even while building their lead, the Bucks were not playing that well. Their offense was sputtery, and they were making some of the worst defensive mistakes I've ever seen. They must have given up three or four absolutely uncontested layups in their half-court defense. And I'm not talking about lay-ups off nice drives. These were lay-ups off of simple cuts. The kind where the defenders don't appear to know what defense the team is playing. PF Charlie Villanueva appeared the most clueless. At one point Bogut had to physically grab him and shove him toward the area and/or man he was supposed to be defending.

Also, no one was really going off for the Bucks. Mo Williams and Earl the Pearl were struggling. Bogut, Villanueva, and Ruben Patterson were playing well, and scoring, but Bogut and Patterson were doing it quietly and Villanueva went down with yet another injury. He tried to come back like Willis Reed, but it wasn't happening.

For those reasons, all night long I had the feeling the Bucks lead was a mere formality.

And I was right. On cue, the Mavericks made a fourth quarter run that seemed to bury the Bucks lead in no time flat. And the Bucks had no answer. They had no one who could score the basketball when the team needed a basket. Net result: put another one in the right hand column for the Green and Red.

Opponent Power Forwards heart the Bucks

The Association's power forwards should be sending the Bucks one of those giant Valentine's Day card that all of them can sign. After all, the Bucks have been showing all of them a season's worth of love. Last night Dirk Nowitizki became the 15th power forward to average better than a 35.00 Eff48 against the Bucks. As I mentioned in a previous post, only one power forward in NBA history has averaged better than 35.00 for his career. Nowitzki scorched the Bucks for a phenomenal Eff48 of 49.11, which ranks second only to the 51.21 Elton Brand put on the Bucks in Los Angeles. Its clear the Bucks have no one who can deal with the Association's myriad of powerful power forwards.

Was that an actual play Stotts drew up?

Down the stretch Avery Johnson completely outcoached Terry Stotts. With the game tied at, I believe 93-93, Johnson drew up a pick and pop play, using Nowitzki and PG Jason Terry, that worked to perfection. It was brilliant in its simplicity. When the Bucks went to Nowitzki on the drive, he had an easy dish to Terry on the short wing. Terry was set up in perfect shooting position and drained an easy jumper over Earl the Pearl. Mavs up 2.

So the Bucks responded by calling a timeout, giving them an inbounds play on their side of the court. They had to score out of the timeout or else they had to resort to what Johnny Mac aptly describes as the "chase-and-foul" game, a game you will never win against the Mavericks.

Well, the play Terry Stotts drew up during the timeout was unbelievably ineffective. It was sandlot city. It consisted of having the ice cold Mo Williams drive the lane and, basically, I guess, pray the Mavs gave him the lane. When the Mavs predictably closed down on his drive, he had no second option. He was forced to desperately pass out to Charlie Bell on the wing. When the Mavs ran at him and moved him out of his comfort zone, he had to step inside the 3 point area and throw up an off-balance 2 that was a brick. Game over.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

When the Celtics and Bucks were Kings

The Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics shared somewhat parallel lives in the 1970s and 1980s. The Celtics successes were clearly greater, but both stood at the pinnacle of the NBA. And as such, they both engaged in some legendary post-season battles at the old Milwaukee Arena and the old Boston Garden.

The 1974 NBA Finals, when the Celtics won the World Championship in seven games and essentially ended the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar era in Milwaukee; the 1983 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, when the brooms came out at the Milwaukee Arena and the Bucks handed the Celtics their first ever sweep defeat in an NBA play-off series, forcing the Celtics into personnel changes that led directly to their near domination of the rest of the 1980s; the 1984 Eastern Conference Finals when the new-look Celtics gained revenge by defeating an eminently talented Bucks team 4-1, thereby ending another great era of Bucks basketball as Bob Lanier retired and early the next season Marques Johnson and Junior Bridgeman were sent packing to the Clippers; the 1986 Eastern Conference Finals when perhaps the greatest Boston Celtics team of all-time simply outclassed the Bucks in a four game sweep; and finally, the last year of greatness for both teams, when their 80s rivalry came full circle in the 1987 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The Bucks, with John Lucas and Sidney Moncrief in their backcourt, gave the fading Larry Bird Celtics everything they could handle before succumbing in seven games to the eventual Eastern Conference champions. It was a fitting end to a great era of basketball between the teams.

Those are all just yellowing memories now. The Boston Garden is gone. The Milwaukee Arena hasn't seen an NBA game since 1988. And now the once-great teams who used to occupy those venerable gyms are set to meet in an ignominious Valentine's Day "lowdown" at someplace called the "Fleet Center" in Boston. It ain't right, somehow... but its fitting.

The Celtics are targeting tomorrow's game as their last desperate attempt to stave off what could become, if they lose to the struggling Bucks, an NBA record losing streak.

I watched some of those legendary battles in the 1980s from the unique vantage point of the "Middle Parquet" at the Milwaukee Arena. When I watch tomorrow night's game from the cold comfort of my "Front Parquet" couch, part of me will be remembering what once was between these two proud franchises, and trying to forget what has become of them.

Photo Credit: Jsonline.com

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bucks Diary NBA Power Rankings 02-12-07

Below is my latest NBA Power Rankings, "The Old School Pennant" edition. As always, my rankings are based solely on each team's efficiency differential (pts per 100 possessions - pts allowed per 100 possessions).

1. Phoenix Suns (+9.2)
2. Dallas Mavericks (+8.3)
3. San Antonio Spurs (+7.4)
4. Houston Rockets (+7.3)
5. Detroit Pistons (+5.5)
6. Chicago Bulls (+4.4)
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (+2.2)
8. Utah Jazz (+1.6)
9. Denver Nuggets (+1.4)
10.New Jersey Nets (+0.8)
11.Miami Heat (+0.8)
12.Toronto Raptors (+0.7)
13.Los Angeles Lakers (+0.3)
14.Sacramento Kings (-0.1)
15.Orlando Magic (-0.1)
16.Washington Bullets (-0.4)
17.Indiana Pacers (-1.1)
18.Minnesota Timberwolves (-1.2)
19.Los Angeles Clippers (-1.7)
20.Golden State Warriors (-1.8)
21.New York Knicks (-2.0)
22.NOK Hornets (-2.3)
23.Seattle Supersonics (-3.3)
24.Philadelphia 76ers (-4.3)
25.Atlanta Hawks (-4.5)
26.Boston Celtics (-4.5)
27.Portland Trailblazers (-5.0)
28.Memphis Grizzlies (-5.2)
29.Charlotte Bobcats (-5.6)
30.Milwaukee Bucks (-5.6)

...Interestingly, the Celtics have not bottomed out, despite losing umpteen in a row. This suggests they have been competitive enough to win several of the games they lost, perhaps the coaching down the stretch of games has let them down... Another interesting thing to note is the rise of the Raptors. They have come from the bottom echelon of the rankings in November and December and worked their way to the upper half in today's order. They have also broken into the positive differentials. They're having a terrific season... Another team that appears to be rising is the New Jersey Nets. They might be making their move... The Heat have also taken a dramatic leap forward. If you remember, they were dead last in efficiency differential for several weeks early in the season. I had them left for dead, but Dwayne Wade, the best player in basketball, has willed them back into the championship picture.