Tag: Milwaukee Bucks

Did Milwaukee discover the key to beating Golden State?

The Milwaukee Bucks may have discovered the key game plan to beating the Golden State Warriors as the season moves into 2016.

The Warriors epic win streak came to an end this week at 28 when they dropped a 108-95 decision to the Milwaukee Bucks.  While this may have seemed shocking at first, in retrospect, we should have seen it coming.

Milwaukee was off to a slow start (9-15 at the time), their identity remains a high energy, defense-first team that features a variety of players with great length who look to disrupt passing lanes and force mistakes.  Meanwhile the Warriors were still working through injuries and coming off a double-overtime victory the night before.

The one thing that always holds true in the NBA is that a tired team can’t possibly keep pace with a fresh team, no matter how much more talent they put on the floor.  The Warriors weren’t destined to lose to a better or equal squad like San Antonio or Cleveland – they were liable to lose that first game to health and fatigue, no matter the opponent.

Then again, the Warriors circled last night’s rematch on their calendar immediately, hyping the game as revenge for the Bucks “lack of class” in celebrating their win.  The Warriors got their revenge…sort of but still had to fight for the victory.  Milwaukee is obviously not a good a match up for Golden State and while they lack the talent to seriously challenge the Warriors, they do present a model for how to frustrate Golden State and make them work.

Keep an eye on this moving forward.

THE INDISPENSABLE 10

Power Rankings For Players!

(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

  1.  Steph Curry, G (GS) (1) – Still way out in front.

T-2.  LeBron James, F (CLE) (2) – Wait ‘til Kyrie gets back full swing – that will be something to see.

T-2.  Kawhi Leonard, F (SA) (3) – Much closer to the Warriors than people think.

  1.  Paul George, G (IND) (5) – He’d be leading the MVP race if it weren’t for Curry.
  1.  Russell Westbrook, G (OKC) (4) – Inching closer.
  1.  Jimmy Butler, G (CHI) (8) – Just getting better.
  1.  Kyle Lowry, G (TOR) (6) – Statistically, only Curry and Westbrook are better 1 guards right now.
  1.  Kevin Durant, F (OKC) (7) – Hard to leave him off.
  1.  Andre Drummond, C (DET) (–) – The stuff he did this week is stuff NO ONE else is doing.
  1.  Chris Paul, G (LAC) (–) – Upping his game.

 

NBA PIPELINE

What’s the hot rumor this week?

Two big names are floating around the ether this week:  the Rockets’ Dwight Howard and the Bulls’ Derrick Rose.  Now, there’s one very big reason neither of these guys will move this season:  money.  No one’s going to want to pay Dwight Howard tens of millions of dollars to play 50 games and average 12 points a night, and at 33 years old, Howard has long past the point where he will “develop” an offensive game.”  That said, Dwight Howard remains a matchup problem for lots of teams as he’s still an excellent rebounder and rim protector, and is hardly a bust in the middle.  You could do worse, FAR worse, than Dwight Howard and for that reason I believe he will have no problem finding a new situation as long as his financial expectations are reasonable.

Rose presents a much different picture.  Right now, Derrick Rose is about 10 spots above being the worst player in the NBA.  It’s almost unimaginable, but the former MVP has been just awful this year.

Looking for perspective?

Remember how bad Kobe was leading up to his retirement announcement?

Rose is that kind of bad. Worse, in fact.  And Rose is due to make a fortune over the next two years.  Would some team, any team, be willing to pay that kind of scratch on the chance that Rose will regain his past glory after all of the damage injury has done to his career.  I seriously doubt it, and that means you may see Derrick Rose playing either limited minutes or (imagine this) coming off the bench next season for Chicago while they reshape their offense around Jimmy Butler and others.  None of this is Rose’s fault but the fact he’s a liability is one Chicago will be dealing with all season.

 

N-B-HEY!

Observations and opinions on this week’s action

“It is a big win for those young guys in the locker room, the time they put in for these 25 games and the effort from start to finish. You can say the crowd was off the charts, too.” – Bucks coach Jason Kidd, on his team snapping the Warriors unbeaten streak.

“I didn’t really want to look up at the basket when the ball left his hands. . .It would have been extremely deflating to lose a game that way.” – Knicks coach Derek Fisher, essentially admitting he was “too scared to watch” Damian Lillard’s last second 3 point attempt, which would have stolen the game for Portland.

“Monta is at a point now where scoring 25 points a night isn’t the most important thing,  winning every night is.  I love that he’s all about winning right now.” – Pacers coach Frank Vogel, praising Monta Ellis’ team first approach.

“I already know what the headlines are going to say, ‘Kobe turned back the hands of time.’  I didn’t think he had enough legs to do it, but it’s pretty cool. We got to see the old guy still has the legs a little bit.” – Rockets C Dwight Howard, on Kobe Bryant’s first dunk of the season.

“We’re trying to prove ourselves night in and night out.  A four-overtime battle like this and come out with a win?  I think we’re trying to make statements.” – Pistons G Reggie Jackson, on Detroit’s epic battle with the Chicago Bulls.

“They scored 70 points in the first half, and that’s not who we are. We made the point that we were very public about the fact that we wanted to get revenge, but then we didn’t come out and play with that edge and that mentality.  If you’re going to say that about another team, the other team is not just going to fold because you say it.” – Warriors interim coach Luke Walton, on Milwaukee hanging tough against Golden State in the rematch.

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Hoop Memes: Random thoughts about the NBA (so far)

Welcome to my BRAND NEW WEEKLY COLUMN about all things basketball. Let’s talking random thoughts about the NBA!

I’m excited to talk basketball because in my opinion, when it is played at its highest level, basketball is simply the most beautiful game in all of professional sports.  There is no greater blend of skill, athleticism and strategy.  I hope you’re as excited for a brand new NBA season as I am.

THE INDISPENSABLE 10

Power rankings for players! What?

The NBA is such a player driven league, that in lieu of power rankings of the teams, I thought I’d do a weekly “power rankings” of which NBA players were most crucial to their team’s success.  You can think of this list as a blend of “best player,” “most likely to win MVP,” and “most likely to lead his team to a championship.”

If you’re wondering why there are no, for example, Atlanta Hawks or San Antonio Spurs on this list right now, keep in mind that these teams are particularly wed to an overall team-oriented style of play so no one player, even their best players, become too important overall.

  1.  Steph Curry, G (GS) – Off to the best start since Michael Jordan in 1991.
  1.  Blake Griffin, F (LAC) – Emerging as the biggest of their Big 3.
  1.  LeBron James, F (CLE) – No one really believes Kevin Love is the key to their success.
  1.  Kevin Durant, F (OKC) – He and Westbrook are both top-five scorers, but I believe in Durant.
  1.  Andre Drummond, C (DET) – The new-and-improved Pistons are running on Drummond’s near 20/20 per night.
  1.  Damian Lillard, G (POR) – The answer to that question… is Lillard gonna do it all by himself? (So far, yes.)
  1.  Jimmy Butler, G (CHI) – It’s been Butler for two seasons, most fans just don’t know it.
  1.  Russell Westbrook, G (OKC) – It’s a make or break year for the team and him.
  1.  DeMar DeRozan, G (TOR) – Personally I don’t think the Raptors are built to last, but so far so good this season.
  1.  Rudy Gobert, C (UTA) – How does Utah not suck?  Gobert right now is giving them nothing short of DeAndre Jordan level defense.

Two playoff teams, the Brooklyn Nets in the East and the New Orleans Pelicans in the West, are both winless thus far this year. The difference, of course, is that the Nets were supposed to suck this year as there’s been a mass exodus of their aging core and the rebuilding effort hasn’t even started.

But New Orleans? They were supposed to be the team on the rise, with the game’s best young player in Anthony Davis. So what’s wrong with them?

The same as usual… injuries. Injuries have Jrue Holliday seeing limited duty. Injuries have robbed the Pelicans of the services of versatile Tyreke Evans. Most of all, injuires to Kendrick Perkins and Omer Asik now have Anthony Davis playing out of position. Add in that he’s seeing double or even triple teams every night and that’s a big part of the problem.

I also believe, however, that hiring Alvin Gentry was a mistake. Mike D’Antoni’s up-and-down style may be fun to watch, but it requires a very specific type of roster for the system to work, and (big secret not really) it’s not that great a system anyway, short on defense and  easy to circumvent in a seven-game playoff series when you see the same team every night. It’s especially ill-suited for the Pelicans, who have a roster loaded with guys whose strength is their ability to defend.  Gentry needs to un-D’Antoni his system to fit his roster, or the Pelicans may be doomed to second-tier status even after they get the bulk of their roster healthy and playing again.

NBA PIPELINE

What’s the hot rumor this week?

Derrick Rose and the Bulls may be on the verge of declaring “irreconcilable differences”. The player who was once the franchise centerpiece has not only been supplanted by Jimmy Butler as the team’s star, but, unthinkably, he’s not even second on the list as Pau Gasol is far more crucial to the Bulls’ success than Rose.

Worse yet, he’s chafing against the offense new coach Fred Hoiberg is running, either because won’t learn it, or can’t because injuries have robbed him of more than just a step.  Either way, don’t be shocked if Rose changes uniforms before the trade deadline.

The Milwaukee Bucks finally have the services of Jabari Parker available to them. Remember him?  He was the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, one of the coveted prizes available at the top of that group. But he, along with the Philadelphia Sixers’ Joel Embiid and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Julius Randle, missed all or most of last season due to injury, making these players “new additions” to their team even though they got drafted two years ago.

Embiid of course will miss this year with injuries too, and the Lakers are so bad that Randle won’t be enough to make a difference, but Parker rejoins a Bucks’ squad that made the playoffs last year on the strength of their length, athleticism and defensive intensity. Parker, whose game loosely translates as a latter-day Carmelo Anthony, could and should become the go-to scorer that Milwaukee’s roster currently lacks.

Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Parker, in his 2015-2016 debut vs. Philadelphia

Two games into his return, Parker looks both rusty from a year without basketball and exactly how you’d expect a rookie adjusting to the NBA to look, but make no mistake, Parker was impressive in limited action last season, and once he’s at 100 percent, he is the missing piece that will help the Bucks rise to the top half of a thin Eastern Conference that basically has only a couple of real contenders in it.

N-B-HEY!

Observations and opinions on this week’s action!

“It’s been a while for me to have this kind of experience.”
– Carmelo Anthony, who missed most of last season with an injury, after scoring 37 against the Wizards.

“He knows he don’t suck.”
– LeBron James, on Kobe Bryant’s self-critical analysis of his performance.

“No matter what system he’s in, there’s going to be a learning curve.  It’s the third game of the season.”
– San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, on how new player LaMarcus Aldridge was picking up the system.

“It is more difficult for me to remain positive in Year 3.”
– Philadelphia Sixers coach Brett Brown, whose team is once again off to a winless (0-6) start.

“It’s not like I’m a different player coming out of the locker room at halftime.”
– Steph Curry, after his team beat Memphis by 50 points. Curry scored 21 in the third quarter.

“It’s just me coming into my own, I guess.”
– Bradley Beal, on hitting the game winning three-pointer against the Spurs with 0:00 left on the clock.

“It was a good moment. I just watched it on Instagram.”
– Dwayne Wade, on a 60-foot shot he made to end the first half against Minnesota.

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