The Week Ahead (January 18th-24th)

The only consistent thing about these Milwaukee Bucks is that they are inconsistent. After an offensive explosion in Sacramento the Bucks shot under 40% against the Clippers. The defense was roughly the same, awful. The Clippers shot over 50% for the first time all year and the Brian Skinners and Mardy Collins’ of the world were hurting the Bucks dearly. The flight miles will add up this week for the Bucks with alternating home and road games all week. The Bucks finish off their mini tour of the west coast on Monday in another 4 game week during their busiest month of the season. Things do not get much easier when the Bucks come home to meet Dallas and get on the road again against Atlanta. Hopefully a home date Saturday against Sacramento will provide solace.

January 19th @ Portland (24-16)
Portland will be a tall task to say the least. Portland has one of the most imposing front courts in the NBA with 3 very productive players 6’11 or taller. LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, and former Buck Joel Przybilla give teams fits clogging up the lane and gobbling up any rebound that comes their way. Match them with a backcourt featuring burgeoning All-Star Brandon Roy, the clutch Travis Outlaw, and rookie phenom Rudy Fernandez, and Portland is one of the up and coming teams in the NBA. They will be without the services of former Buck Steve Blake, but that is likely a blessing in disguise. Once Blake went down they got a chance to take a closer look at summer league star Jerryd Bayless. Blake may be the sturdy veteran but Bayless is their future at the position. He has a lot of upside and looks like he could be the explosive scorer they need next to Roy.

January 21st vs. Dallas (23-17)
72% of Dallas’ shots are jump shots. What is crazy is that they don’t have particularly good jump shooters. Obviously Dirk has a world class shot, but after him who is hitting shots for them? Jason Kidd? Josh Howard? Erick Dampier? I know Jason Terry can fill it up when he gets hot, but if he is your #2 option you’re screwed. Word is the Mavs are working on a Josh Howard-Shawn Marion trade that may succeed in making them even worse than they already are…stay tuned. I was watching a Mavs game earlier this year and jotting down notes on the team and looking back through them my favorite was, “Antoine Wright has no one within 15 feet of him and still can’t get anything going. He started tonight.” That sounds promising.

January 23rd @ Atlanta (23-16)
The Hawks should be well rested by the time the Bucks come to town on Friday, having two days off before hand. Center Al Horford may gain the most with their up coming lighter workload after missing the last 4 games. He could be ready to go by the time the Bucks come to town. A return by Horford should provide a boost as the Hawks have lost 3 of 4 without him. Depth is not their strong suit. I have a friend who uses the Hawks pretty much every time we play NBA 2K9 and I’ve never seen him go to the bench. Why? When you’re relying on noted jackers like Flip Murray and Maurice Evans to provide your second unit boost, you know you’ll be playing your starters quite a bit. The Hawks do have some stingy D though, so be prepared for a low scoring affair here.

January 24th vs. Sacramento (10-31)
The Bucks meet their friends from Sac-town a week after a shootout back west. Redd was able to slice through the Sacramento defense for 3 quarter last week putting up a robust season high of 44. I wouldn’t expect this game to be the same high scoring affair with Bogut back in the line up, the Bucks are likely to slow it down some. John Salmons and Kevin Martin were pretty lethal from deep last game and everyone from Sacramento was eating from the line. Sacramento played some of the worst defense I’ve ever seen in the NBA last game so the Bucks will need to continue to exploit that if they hope to pull this one out…not that I think that’ll be a problem.

This could be a tough week for the Bucks. If they drop 3 here they’ll be looking at 5 games under .500 with another long week coming up next. Getting to .500 before February starts would be ideal, considering they only have 4 road games in the month. Bogut’s return should help, but iff they could come out of this week 2-2 it would have to be considered a success. Though I’ll say the Sacramento game is a must have no matter what.

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