The Bucks are in 8th place in the East with a record of 11-17 and a road record of 4-10 after beating the Lakers in LA Tuesday night 98-79. They are 5-5 over the last 10 games and 3-4 against Western Conference team over that period, with losses to Utah, Denver, San Antonio, and Portland, and wins against LA, Dallas and Houston.
In the offseason, Micheal Redd declined the option of letting Milwaukee out of having to pay him $18M for this season. On the other hand, John Salmons did opt out of the last year of his contract, and signed a new 5 yr / $39M contract with the Bucks. In the Draft, the Bucks selected Larry Sanders (15th), Darington Hobson (37th), Jerome Jordan (44th) and Tiny Gallon (47th). Sanders signed with the Bucks, Jordan was traded to NY for cash and Hobson and Gallon were waived.
Milwaukee acquires Corey Maggette from Golden State in exchange for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric. And they traded a 2nd round pick to New Jersey for Chris Douglas-Roberts, and they traded Darnell Jackson to the Kings for Jon Brockman. In the Free Agent market they signed FA Drew Gooden to a 5 yr / $32M contract. And, they signed Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins, and Brian Skinner. The free agent losses were Luke Ridnour to Minnesota, Royal Ivey to OKC, Kurt Thomas to Chicago, and Jerry Stackhouse to Miami.
Injuries have been a problem, and none of the starters has played in all 27 games. Andrew Bogut returning from last year’s injury is averaging 14pts/ 11rebs/ 2.8blks thru 21 games and 35 mpg. Gooden had started 15 games during Oct & Nov before Ersan Ilyasova took over the job in December. Ilya is averging 9.6pts/ 5rebs and shoots .400 from beyond the arc on the road. While Gooden has been averaging 11pts/ 7rebs in about the same mpg. The final frontcourt piece has been Luc Mbah a Moute who has started 17 games and is averaging 5 pts / 5 rebounds on 42% shooting or Chris Douglas-Roberts who putting up similar numbers. Brandon Jennings had been the starting PG until he got injured and is expected to be out 8 weeks. In his place Keyon Dooling has taken over. For Dec, he’s averaging 7 pts / 3 asts on 39% FG% and 48% from 3pt range. And, John Salmons has been the SG averaging 13 pts/ 3.5rebs/ 3asts on 38% field and 37% from 3pt range.
Offensively, the Bucks are one of only 3 teams with an Off Efficiency less then the Kings, but their Def Efficiency is about 6.5% better. And, they are the only team with a eFG% below the Kings. Because they shot so poorly, they need to have a high Off Rebound Rate and they do. And they are in the top 10 teams at getting to the FT line. Plus they are one of the better teams at not turning over the ball. But, it’s their defense and holding teams to 93 ppg that makes them tough to beat. They’re the 3rd best Def Rebounding Team. They’ve held Orlando and Miami to under 90 pts and the Lakers to under 80 pts. You almost have to score at least 100 pts to have a chance to beat them.
It’s hard to even guess at which Kings team will show up. The team where Beno scores 30 or misses all 6 of his shots. The team where DeMarcus dominates the other teams centers, or the one that throws up a prayer before falling to the court. Hopefully, it will be the one that doesn’t turn over the ball 9 times in the 4th quarter. The game will be slow maybe even less than 90 possessions, and that makes every possession and shot critically important. The way the Buck's defensive rebound and limit turnovers, I don’t expect many fast break opportunities. This is going to be a half court slugfest, and the toughest team is going to win. After Tuesdays game I don’t imagine the Bucks are looking forward to playing a pissed off Kings Squad, but they should be up to the task. We need to get off to a good start, and as Jerry says “protect to leather”. I think Bogut is going to win the battle inside, so we’re going to have to win this one by getting and making our open shots outside. Go Kings!