The Week Ahead (February 1st-7th) (Going Streaking Edition)
Look out in the gymnasium because the Bucks are coming through the quad, yes you guessed it…
Bring your green hats because it is 2 in a row as of today. I never thought I’d see it again this year, but riding the force known as Charlie Villanueva, the Bucks are on a roll. The return of Andrew Bogut has been a welcome sight. In limited minutes he has fortified the defense and allowed the wings to stay out and cover the three. Bogut’s return obviously came at a great time with Redd having just gone down, but it always comes at a time when the Bucks schedule takes a turn for the better. In the up coming week the Bucks have only two games, with one coming on three days rest. Yes, three days rest. That should give the creaky backed Aussie plenty of time to be ready to log at least twenty minutes for a home game against Detroit, assuming he suffers no setbacks beforehand. Oddly enough the last time the Bucks were afforded three days rest this year was before the Detroit debacle at home where Coach Skiles pulled the plug early and went with a motley crew for the entire fourth quarter.
In the recent surge (Yes I’m calling consecutive wins a surge. That’s what happens when the supposed franchise player goes out and the team hasn’t won back to back games in more than a month.) Skiles has been in playoff mode, adjusting his bench to an eight man rotation. The losers in this: Joe Alexander, Dan Gadzuric, and Tyronn Lue. All of them have gone from guys who looked like they’d be the beneficiaries of more playing time due to injuries to guys who will be relegated to a mop up role for the rest of the year. The message from top down this year in organization de Bucks has been PLAYOFFS…in big capital letters like that. I have a feeling Skiles has been told, or maybe just knows, that burning his guys out just to get there is okay. Welcome to Milwaukee, where planning ahead is no longer the plan because the Bucks may not be in Milwaukee soon.
Regardless, Charlie V. for one has responded well to a consistent role. Ramon Sessions is looking like a good partner for Luke Ridnour in the back court, outside shooting be damned. Two point guards mean lots of ball movement and chances for open looks. Boy, two wins sure can change an outlook fast. Last week a friend asked me if the Bucks would win ten more games all year, and with the way it was looking for Bogut I was not sure. Now I’m getting ready to plan my approach to securing tickets for playoff games.
Onto this week’s games…
February 3rd @ New Jersey (21-27)
New Jersey has cooled of late but someone forgot to mention that to Brook Lopez. I didn’t think much of him coming out of Stanford, the twins act was not so successful when done by the Collins’, but he has been a force as of late. His scoring has improved every month and he’s blocking nearly two shots a game on the year. This guy is a force. His quickness could very well give Andy Bogut some serious problems. We might see a lot of time spent horizontally on the sidelines for the Australian while the Zombie and maybe possibly Gadz get some cracks at slowing this guy down. New Jersey is stockpiling some serious potential post guys. Lopez, Ryan Anderson, Josh Boone, Easy Yi, and recently D-Leagued Sean Williams all have some skills and could really develop. I guess they figured usually guys don’t work out, but if they get enough some of them probably will and they can just axe or trade the rest. Rod Thorn is a pretty good GM. Just ask Dallas. Devin Harris did make the all-star team by the way, no word on whether or not Jason Kidd will suit up for the skills competition.
February 7th vs. Detroit (25-21)
It just cannot be as bad as last time. The Bucks shot thirty percent and had few answers for anything the Pistons did. Boos rained down from all corners of the BC that miserable December night. Coincidentally that is also the last time the Bucks had a winning streak. Things are getting a little eerie. The Pistons have always been a tough match up for the Bucks so this would likely be a pretty big confidence booster if the Bucks were able to pull it out. The Pistons have been nothing special in the months since the Iverson trade, often times forcing bad shots and having their once intimidating defense sliced through. If anyone could let me know why Jason Maxiel doesn’t play thirty minutes a game I would love to get a reason. I’ve never seen him do anything wrong and I’ve been watching him since his Conference USA days. Another thing about Detroit is Rasheed Wallace. Wallace is the prototype for a guy who has everyone’s ultimate respect and admiration simply because of what he is capable of. You rarely here anyone question the fact that Wallace puts up pretty average numbers every year and really doesn’t win all that many games for them. I have two opinions on this guy though. When I see the team rally around him before games I think, wow he’s worth so much just by being the team’s emotional center. But then I see him have games of 4 points and 5 boards and don’t understand why he doesn’t dominate. As much as everyone says his emotion helps things I think he lets it take him out of games more often than it gets attributed. He’s the ultimate enigma.