It’s funny how a problem can seem like such a huge problem over a lengthy period of time like an entire summer and then can be pronounced fixed so soon into the season. We all knew the Bucks would struggle to score this season, but then Brandon Jennings came around and turned it on early this year and the Bucks suddenly looked like they had more punch offensively than anyone expected. Now we sit looking at five performances with shooting percentages of:
41.5, 45.8, 49.4, 39.6, 37.8
Some of that is okay. Most of it isn’t. Last season, when the Bucks shot less than 45 percent from the field, they went 9-30. So it’s no surprise that the Bucks were hammered 108-90 Friday night on ESPN. 108-90 doesn’t even really do it justice. The Bucks were SO brutal to start the third quarter, it’s hard to put in to words. 17-0 start by Oklahoma City. An 0-13 start by the Bucks and all those offensive problems we suspected but had begun to forget about with the great Bucks start were back in the forefront of our minds.
How bad was the third? (Via ESPN Stats and Information)
|3rd Qtr<<||Rest of Game|
|>>Jump Shots:||1-14||2 Pts|
And the defense that had made us believe the offense could be patched together has sprung leaks all over without Andrew Bogut and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Thunder won the points in the paint battle 46-28 and Kevin Durant had the easiest 33 points he’ll ever get. Dunks and layups were plentiful for the Durantula on the evening and he made 12-14 free throws when he wasn’t dunking on the Bucks.
Russell Westbrook knived through the lane and by Brandon Jennings with ease, resulting in 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds with only two turnovers. Turnovers have been a problem for Westbrook, but like most players on the Thunder Friday, he had few problems with the Bucks defense. So much for the match-up between two of the up and coming point guards in the NBA. Westbrook dominated from the get-go, even blocking two of Jennings layup attempts. Aside from a seven point spurt in the fourth quarter, Jennings never was really in this one.
So, is it time to panic?
IT’S TIME TO PANIC!!
- Jennings is struggling, Bogut’s already hurt and Michael Redd has been the wrapping of a shell of his former self. He struggled mightily again Friday looking awkward on the court, shooting poor shots, struggling to get the ball and getting torched on defense. Redd and Jennings haven’t meshed well on the court at all and the Bucks only run came with Redd out of the game for good.
- LRMAM has now missed over a week since originally being listed as day-to-day and the Bucks perimeter defense has been virtually non-existent. He still wears the boot at the games and there has been a preciously small amount of progress discussed by the coaching staff. How long will he be out for? Is this another case of a guy being hurt more than the team is letting on?
RELAX, IT’S LATE NOVEMBER
- On the plus side, the Bucks aren’t losing home games yet. Jennings has looked sharp at home and it’s natural for rookies to struggle on the road. And for his struggles, Jennings still has scored double figures in every game this year and was responsible for all the feistyness the Bucks showed in the fourth quarter Friday. When Bogut gets back, Jennings will have his pick and roll partner and his offense will likely come back to life.
- Redd is working back in. It’s going to take some time, but Redd at least has got to the line a few times in his return. He’s at least finished his layup attempts when he’s gotten them. For as bad as he’s played, the Bucks still could have won the Hornets game and he really can’t get any worse. Players don’t forget how to play basketball overnight, when the Bucks get a few days off he’ll get the chance to work with Jennings and get their timing down. He HAS to get better.
- Ersan Ilyasova looks pretty good. Who would have thought he’d be occasionally looking like the Bucks best player? He was a little shot happy Friday night, but 13 points and 12 rebounds is still pretty good. He was active on the glass and kept a lot of balls alive. He led the Bucks to their second quarter lead with 11 second quarter points.
- Young teams often struggle on the road. The Bucks most important player is a 20-year-old and their young across the board. There will be inconsistency early in the year and hopefully it’s something the Bucks can iron out by the end of the year. The early schedule was soft and allowed the Bucks to pad their win total a little bit to absorb these early road losses. At the end of the day, the Bucks are still 8-6.
Ultimately, I side with the let’s refrain from panicing group. It’s early and we knew the Bucks weren’t going to be a great team this year. Yeah, I get as frustrated as anyone when I see sloppy basketball and an inability to score, but realistically this team is only going to be above average when Bogut’s in and Jennings is playing well. Those two things don’t always go hand in hand, but hopefully by the end of the season they will have combined more often than not. If not, it’s going to be a long season.