It would be very easy to write about all the things Bucks fans should be thankful for in this space. Frankly, there’s a lot to write about, but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a consumer and purveyor of all things Bucks if I allowed the masses to enjoy their happiness peacefully.
The Bucks’ great start to the season is going to come to a screeching halt in December. As many have noted, the Bucks have a ridiculously difficult December schedule. The schedule:
- Dec. 2: at Cleveland
- Dec. 3: vs. Dallas
- Dec. 5: vs. Miami
- Dec. 7: at Dallas
- Dec. 9: at Oklahoma City
- Dec. 13: vs. Los Angeles Clippers
- Dec. 15: at Phoenix
- Dec. 17: at Portland
- Dec. 18: at Sacramento
- Dec. 20: at Los Angeles Clippers
- Dec. 23: vs. Charlotte
- Dec. 26: at Atlanta
- Dec. 27: vs. Atlanta
- Dec. 29: at Charlotte
- Dec. 31: at Cleveland
The Bucks are going to lose in December and they are likely going to lose a lot.
This isn’t to say that the Bucks are the league’s worst team or Bucks fans should stop supporting them, but instead, this realization should give us some perspective. The early season wins have been great, but let’s take a chance to recognize what this season is really about: progress.
Winning basketball is addicting. It’s fun. It feels great to watch your team win, but Bucks fans need to be sure not to get swept up in that winning feeling. This season was not supposed to be about reaching the playoffs. It was supposed to be about watching a team create a foundation for the future.
As we see more games like the big loss to the Raptors this past week, the focus should not be on the box score, but rather on the floor.
Are Bucks players developing good habits? Is Jabari Parker becoming more comfortable offensively and figuring out the proper rotations defensively? Is Giannis Antetokounmpo’s jump shot improving? Is Brandon Knight making the right read on pick and rolls? Those are the things that truly matter because those are the things that will make the Bucks a winning team in the future.
The good news is the Bucks have been looking quite good in this regard. There have been improvements by many of the young players in their foundational skills. It appears as though head coach Jason Kidd, with the help of some willing veterans, has his young team focused on doing things the right way.
The wins are cool, but the progress is what I’m truly thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Clip of the Week
Today’ we’ll take a look at the highlights from Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday night against the Wizards. Antetokounmpo scored a new career-high with 20, but I want to focus on the play he makes at 1:12. Antetokounmpo is still uncomfortable with his catch-and-shoot jumper, but on this play, he used his sagging defender as a double screen for Brandon Knight. Antetokounmpo has done this for Knight multiple times this season and it’s been encouraging to see Antetokounmpo find unorthodox ways to use a defense’s scouting report to his advantage.
What to Read
Giannis Antetokounmpo is making the leap – The first Quick Bucks featured a link to an article from Bucksketball’s Jeremy Schmidt warning the masses that if Antetokounmpo was going to be the star everyone wanted him to be, he would need to make a leap this season. Well, he made that leap and Schmidt returned to detail just how impressive that leap has been thus far.
Larry Sanders Q&A: “Perfection is not even attainable” – James Herbert of CBS Sports took some time to chat with Larry Sanders while the Bucks were in Toronto and came away with an interesting interview. Sanders talked about the struggles of the last year and how things are different this year with Jason Kidd at the helm.
Giannis and Jabari Lineup Analysis – Brew Hoop’s Dan Sinclair took a closer look at the time Antetokounmpo and Parker have spent on the floor together and found some disappointing returns. Sinclair found that the lineups featuring both players have underwhelmed this season, but the reason for their struggles is somewhat clear.
Week In Review
Friday: The Toronto Raptors showed why they are the Eastern Conference’s best team beating the Bucks by 41 points, 124-83. It was as ugly as the score suggests.
Saturday: After leading at the half, the Bucks weren’t able to close out the Washington Wizards down the stretch, falling 111-100. It seemed Wizards guard Paul Pierce had an answer each time the Bucks were able to get close.
Tuesday: The Bucks were able to end their two-game losing streak with a 98-86 victory over the Detroit Pistons. While Brandon Knight led the way with 20 points, the Bucks had four more players in double figures in the win.
Next Week’s Preview
Wednesday: In the first game of the I-94 series, the Bucks will travel to Minnesota and take on the rebuilding Timberwolves. The Timberwolves have given up more than 100 points in every game this year except their three victories.
Friday: Just three days after a victory in Milwaukee, the Bucks will travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons. Friday’s game may feature former Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, who missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained left thumb.
Saturday: The Houston Rockets come to town this weekend in the first contest between the two teams this season. At 11-3, the Rockets have compiled one of the league’s best records with James Harden averaging more than 25 points per game with 10 trips to the free throw line each game.
Tuesday: The Bucks’ rough December schedule gets started in Cleveland against the new-look Cavaliers. LeBron James and the Cavaliers are still figuring things out as they’ve lost four of their last five games.
Wednesday: After facing one of the league’s most talented teams, the Bucks will welcome one of the league’s most efficient teams, the Dallas Mavericks, to the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Stats of the Week
19 – The Bucks have been bad in the last week, but Ersan Ilyasova has been quite good. In the last three games, Ilyasova has had the largest positive impact on the Bucks with a 19.0 Player Impact Estimate (via NBA Stats). (PIE is like PER. Find a full explanation here.)
5.6 – Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently leading the Bucks in field goal attempts within five feet of the rim with 5.6 per game (via NBA Stats).
7.9 – Most teams will put elite playmaking bigs at the elbows to initiate their offense. The Bucks are no different. Despite playing roughly 10 minutes less than the other players in the league’s Top 10, Zaza Pachulia is currently fifth in elbow touches at 7.9 per game (via NBA stats).
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly
roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at
Eric or win his eternal adoration by correctly guessing how many times Jon
McGlocklin played on Christmas Day for the Bucks on Twitter @eric_nehm. NO
CHEATING! See last week’s column here.