Bucks Diary

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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


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