A Charlotte Shake-up: Bobcats 94 – Bucks 84

Recaps/Box Score

The most bizarre thing about the second half for the Bucks was that it took so long to happen.  I mean, we all know Michael Redd has been playing for appearances sake and with the hope that he’ll magically find his game and improve his trade value.  He certainly hasn’t been playing because he’s been doing so well, but everyone assumed the Bucks were stuck playing him, through thick and thin.   Then the Bucks-Bobcats first half happened.

It’s not often you’ll see a coach more at a loss for words and explanations than Kelvin Sampson was when he tried to explain what happened in the first half for the Milwaukee Bucks.  After looking off in the distance (possibly for someone who could figure out why the Bucks are playing so poorly) Sampson said something to the effect of, “Basketball is a simple game.  You just need to make your shots when you’re open.  We’re getting good looks, wide-open looks, and not hitting them.”

Sampson looked fed up and it’s logical to assume Scott Skiles was fed up too judging from his second half strategy.  The Bucks started the third with Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova and Kurt Thomas.  The first man off the bench?  Francisco Elson.  I’d say Skiles wasn’t so thrilled with his starters, as Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino didn’t see one second of action in the second half.

And when his team is down 22 at half to a mediocre team, how can you disagree with his moves?

While he may have gone overboard benching Bogut for the entire second half, the Bucks at least showed a little energy with the majority of their starting lineup sitting.  Cutting the deficit to ten at one point in the fourth quarter, the Bucks just didn’t have enough to get over the hump with a lineup full of backups on the court.  It was easy to get the sense that this half was about more than just today.  It seemed like Skiles had finally had enough of the talking the talk but not walking the walk.  Andrew Bogut had called out the Bucks a number of times lately, and each time he and the team offered little response.  Skiles seems to have a strong dislike for a lot of talk.  He’s a man who prefers to see action, here’s what he had to say Saturday before the Spurs game (that is, BEFORE the recent team meeting):

“The hard thing is then the next night or the next game whatever it is to come out there and back up your words with actions and lead the team.”

I don’t know what was said during the team meeting held on Sunday, but I’m certain this was not the plan for Monday.

Offense

I often find myself wondering what could possibly be going on in the heads of the Bucks players on offense.  The problem with that is that there shouldn’t really be anything going on; it should predominantly be quick read and react situations.  That’s how basketball should be played.  Instead, the Bucks players are often left holding on to the ball for long periods of time or dribbling aimlessly on the perimeter.  There is very few “attack mode” moments where a player is decisively going to the basket with a plan and I’m not sure anyone is really capable of it anyway.

  • I’m sometimes amazed at the number of isolation plays the Bucks seem to run.  Do the Bucks have many players that seem capable of thriving in isolation?  Who on the Bucks is more talented offensively than their counterpart on the Bobcats would be defensively?  Maybe Jennings and occasionally Bogut, but Michael Redd and Hakim Warrick don’t have the necessary skill to beat their respective men one on one when their guarded by the capable defenders the Bobcats have.
  • If anyone questions why Skiles came back out with a completely different starting five, let me point you to the numbers for the Bucks recent starting five of Jennings-Redd-Delfino-Ilyasova-Bogut:
Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Overall Rating
58.7 104.35 -45.65

Those numbers indicate that the Bucks score 45 less points than they allow per 100 possessions with this lineup.  The STARTING LINEUP SCORES 45 POINTS LESS THAN IT ALLOWS PER 100 POSSESSIONS!  This is more or less the worst five-man unit the Bucks could put on the court and they’ve started the last five games.  Mysteriously, Milwaukee is 1-4 in those games.  For the record, if Redd is swapped out and Mbah a Moute is swapped in, the Bucks improve to a +9.78 rating.  That’s a 54.13 difference.  Just saying.

  • So in a game in which Michael Redd played 20 of the most ineffective minutes you’ll see on a basketball court, Brandon Jennings shot 9-18, had seven assists and scored 24 points.  I know this is going to sound crazy, but he played as well in the second half as he has played in over a month.  Jennings had 18 in the second half.
  • Jodie Meeks earned some more clock with a strong game Saturday, but may have lost it just as quick.  Skiles has commented on Meeks speed and athleticism as being better than the rest of the Bucks guards and Meeks showed that multiple times, but if he can’t hit wide open three-point shots, he isn’t going to play.  It’s that simple.  Once in the half court he decisively attacked his man and kicked it out to Bell for an open three (Bell missed) and later he ran the break and got Mbah a Moute a layup that resulted in two free throws.  The Bucks don’t get much out of the drive and kick or transition game, so when Meeks flashes these kinds of plays, it’s a little bit of a big deal.  Those plays are all well and good, but still, he’s got to hit his three’s.

Defense

  • It’s not even funny how much better Mbah a Moute is at defense than every other Bucks wing player.  He’s always tipping passes, getting in good position and grabbing rebounds (his ten led the Bucks).  I missed some of the first quarter, but as soon as I tuned in, Mbah a Moute corralled a loose ball with a dive and then tipped a pass right after.  Sure, he can’t hit a 15 foot jump-shot with consistency, but he does so many other positive things and is a great court-chemistry guy.
  • Francisco Elson played as well as I’ve seen him play all year.  He absolutely looked the part of a player who had been resting and working all year long.  He was running around, being active and generally good Gadzuricish. Remember when Gadz used to be able to trap, grab rebounds and contest shots?  That was Elson Monday.  His plus eight was an accurate reflection of his contributions.

Final Thoughts

Skiles has had enough of the talking.  He wants to see results and will obviously sit anyone he doesn’t think is contributing.  All bets seem to be off right now and if the Bucks came back Wednesday with the same starters they had Monday I’d be astonished.  How Bogut and Redd take their benchings will make for an interesting two days for the Bucks on this road trip.  If they own up to their mistakes and do what’s necessary to get back on the court and get the team back on track, we could be talking about this game as a turning point in the Bucks season.  If Skiles unusual tactic of benching two of his team’s stars is met with trouble?  It could be a long couple months.

Categories: Recaps

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball. He founded it in…

3 Comments

  1. If the Bucks want to win it’s simple. Go back to what worked at the start of the season. Teams are not the reason for Jennings decline. I’d put a little emphasis on his knee but I feel like he’s trying to hard to play perfect or up to Skiles expectations. Let him play & have fun like early in the season. Ilyasova has to pull it together. You have to figure out a way to maximize the talent on the roster. Benching players in this league doesn’t work. It looks as if Skiles is the angriest man in the league. Does he not get paid enough? Start BJ,Bell,Luc,Warrick,Bogut. Bring Luke,Redd,Delfino,Thomas,Gadz or Elson of the bench. Have a consistent rotation & stop expecting the Bucks to play Celtic or top notch defense. You don’t have the personal. Redd isn’t healthy so we already know his limitations.

    Also the bucks were lucky to land Brandon Jennings. They also blundered the pick of Meeks. The scouting dept messed this one up. He can’t start in this league & is a streak shooter at best. We’d be better of with Damon Jones. There are plenty of people in the D League to help the situation. Hand the team back over to the flashy with tons of substance PG. Let him get back on his tear w/o subbing him for every little mistake. 55 is more than possible again. Back him,believe in him & know that how he played early on the season wasn’t a fluke. He’s just that good. Sometimes playing a perfect game doesn’t translate in the win column. You have to do whatever is necessary. Redd has to be out the starting lineup & lose some weight.

    More pick & pops for Ilyasova & Bogut for Jennings. Pick up the tempo and let Brandon play a la Steve Nash or Chris Paul. Good things will happen. Skiles just ease up a tad. Smile for once it’s not that bad. This is not a playoff bound team nor Championship roster. You seem very bitter an overly sacarstic. They asked him the other day about Jennings. He says” Well he’s shot 21 for whatever from FG’s. You don’t say stuff like that about your teams best player. Benching Bogut isn’t going to turn him into a dominating 1st pick worthy player. He’s an avg post player & big body. That’s his peak. He plays no D, rotates late and poses no help side D either. He always looks to take charges which I think big man should avoid. Block or change the shot & use your fouls wisely. I’ve watched literally almost every Buck game from the beginning. I have league pass & don’t go off highlights. It’s a collective problem & i think it starts with the coach accepting his pro’s & con’s of his coaching ability. Understand why a discord arose in Chicago. Adapt to today’s game & it’s players. Do what’s best for team even if it means swallowing your pride. It’s a hard job but the only way to succeed in this league. I’ve coached girls,unlimited boys & little kids. It’s a very daunting task to get people to buy into what your preaching. Also point guard coaches are very hard on their point guards. Let’s go Bucks pull it together. I miss the old Bucks you guys were playing so loose & winning against good teams. You were in every game. Brandon be you & forget about all of the media & all the naysayers or negative feedback about FG’s. Your a different kind of talent that not many understood from the gate. Be a basketball player. Not a robot, pass first or shoot first PG. Play the game and take and use what the defense gives you.

  2. When is Joe Alexander expecting back. I’m anxious to see how he’ll play with Jennings & Co. Let’s make a trade to the Warriors for Maggette & Randolph or even the bulls Thomas & Salmons. Even the Wiz have some pieces that could work. Nick Young & Javele Mcgee. There’s Sundiata Gaines in the D-League. James White to add a Jamario Moon dynamic to the team. We could go after Kevin Martin. Even N.Robinson would be ideal. Please do something as I’m a full on board Bucks fan. I don’t dislike Skiles but I could see his drive/passion or whatever that drives him. Could be why after a while things go sour. It’s the difference between being a good coach & great coach. You have to have a good system but having your players have your back & vice versa is just as important. Smile Coach please for me for you, the cameras, Fastbreak, I’m telling you I get nervous at home to think of how hard it would have been to play for you. There is such a thing as micromanaging or being to overdemanding. Which I think at times can be faults. Proving points usually doesn’t bode well with Grown Men.

  3. “Brandon Jenning is a real decent player with potential. He will be slowed down and hurt from playing under coach skiles. Skiles was never a real talented player. He was a grunt and good earner. He doesn’t appreciate athletes and can’t coach players like that. Watch Skiles start back biting and playing head games against BJ. Then watch how BJ gonna get frustrated. BJ is the ticket, Skiles will be gone first.”

    This is what another user had to say about the recent play of Jennings. Be the judge. He could be right & might be wrong. I circle A but I’m waiting for the defense of the wall or whatever it is that can be argued.