Toronto’s defense qualifies as a PED: Bucks 117 – Raptors 95

Recap/Box Score

I’m just going to throw these numbers out there and let you take a look at them.

52.5 percent shooting, 42.9 from behind the arc, 24-28 at the free throw line and 24 assists to nine turnovers  .

You’re thinking that the Bucks gave up another strong performance again and their defense still hasn’t come around as we’d hoped right?  Well, no.  That’s the Bucks offense Wednesday night.  The Raptors are possibly the worst defensive team I’ve witnessed this year, with only Golden State competing with them for that title.  I’m almost thinking the Toronto Raptors defense should fall into the category of performance enhancing drug and therefore not be allowed on the court or associated with the NBA.

Frankly, this one was such a blowout that the highlight of the Raptors night appeared to be when a ball boy trying to fix the net got the floor mop caught in the hoop on the Raptors side of the court.  They took great delight in that.  Probably because there was nothing else enjoyable going on for them (spare a run to end the third quarter) Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

Offense

  • I think I’ve documented my distaste for Roko Ukic’s game quite a bit in the past.  In fact, never in a million years did I expect to be leading my offense section with tales of Ukic’s glory, but tonight I have to give him some credit.  He was active.  ACTIVE.  Always running around trying to make plays and be a team player.  When the opportunities arose he was ready to go to the rack or take the open shot.  When it was time for him to pass it, he (usually) made the correct pass.  I’m not saying all of his running around was in control, but at the very least he helped inject some life into the Bucks tonight.  He even hit a three.  The stat that stands out for Ukic?  5-6 from the free throw line where the Bucks are typically lifeless.  He deserved the loud ovation he received when he left this one (only to come back later) in the third.
  • Brandon Jennings needed a game like this.  Those once singing his praises had suddenly become doubters after a string of shaky performances.  A friend of mine who doesn’t catch many Bucks games but made it to the opening night performance summed up the feelings of many about Jennings (whom I’ve often defended) in a text to me earlier Wednesday: “You’ve been watching too much Jennings.  You’ve become okay with jackin’.”  When I retorted that he hadn’t seen any of the recent games he simply said, “box scores are all I need to see.”

And that’s what many have been looking at. But Jennings filled it pretty nice tonight: 8-14 (4-7 on three’s, 2-2 from the line) for 22 points and six assists.  THAT’s what we’ve been waiting for.  It says a lot about his importance that the Bucks played with as much confidence as they’ve had since the 8-3 start on a night where he played like he did during the 8-3 start.  His game is not always all about the box score, but it certainly makes him look better when he can produce a pretty line like he did this evening.

  • I don’t even know who else to choose from when describing the success of the Bucks offense.  Ukic: 17 points. Ersan Ilyasova: 17 points.  Carlos Delfino: 14 points.  Luke Ridnour: 15 points.  Andrew Bogut: 12 points.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: 16 points (3-4 outside the paint!).  EVERYONE was pitching in, moving the ball and scoring off good looks.  I can’t stress enough how bad the Raptors defense is.

Defense

  • While the defense still wasn’t up to Scott Skiles always high standards, they looked considerably more active than they have in any game over the past couple weeks.  As is the case with many teams, the Bucks improve considerably on the defensive end when they’re able to get something positive going on the offensive side.
  • I was excited about the prospect of Ilyasova getting a chance to go at the ultra-good Chris Bosh in this one, only that never really materialized.  Skiles went with Bogut on Bosh (which I found even more curious once realizing Andrea Bargnani wouldn’t be playing and Rasho Nesterovic would) and the results were mixed.  Bosh got plenty of good looks in the pick and pop game when Bogut was slow to get to him, but maybe the idea was to keep him out of the lane and make him show he can hit the jumper.  He finished the night just 3-8 outside the paint while connecting on 4-8 inside of it.  Pretty much, if he wasn’t getting dunks or free throws (12-14) he wasn’t scoring a lot tonight.

Final Thoughts

The Raptors aren’t very good.  They entered the game last in defensive rating and if it were possible to go any lower than that they would after letting THIS Bucks team put up 117 points on them.  That being said, it’s wonderful for the Bucks confidence to really pound a team.  The Bucks have been competitive with most teams at home and they have the Blazers and Lakers coming in over the next week.  The Blazers are beat up and primed for a Bucks upset on Saturday while confidence is still high and feelings are still good.

Beating the bad teams is what teams that want to make the playoffs do.  The Bucks have stated that as their goal time and time again and this is a positive step in that direction.  Something they desperately needed after about eight negative steps in the last nine games.

Categories: Recaps

I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

10 Comments

  1. Win (Toronto) or loss (Boston), it’s good to see the Bucks back on track after some poor overall performance. Thanks for the recap !

  2. Bucks won and played better than Toronto. We’ll see if they have the same sucess when JC and AB are playing with the team.

    Although it’s to be expected that most fans boost their team’s performance, your analysis is certainly over the top on this regard. Bucks are in the playoff hunt since the East is so weak, but they are only getting a ticket to a first round playoff butt-kicking. Bucks are not world beaters.

  3. Bucks looked great. Even with a semi depleated Raptor squad. Their two best players were on the floor. Bosh and Turkoglu. Bah is such a good defender its not even funny. Hedu, a normally skillful ballhandler was helpless with Bah on him. Even on a mismatch when Bah had do defend Bosh posting up against him, Bah caused a missed shot with his Stretch Armstrong armsgetting in the way. The guys amazing. He even had 16 points. I dont even know if I want Redd back. If I have to be frank, Id like him to come off the bench with the second squad where he can chuck up shots when we struggle to create them. Redd will help in closing out games because that usually the time where we are completely clueless of who should score so Jennings throws up tough shot after tough shot. Michael, assuming his knees are healthy, will be able to create a shot of go to the line. Bucks had nice distribution of scoring last night which is something Id like to see every night! and how about R O K O! 17 points baby! and went to the line like 4 or 5 times.

  4. Oliveira – Bucks certainly are not world beaters, but even with a healthy squad the Raptors are the worst defensive team in the league. Both squads have at highest, hopes of a first round playoff exit. And they’re both looking at sweeps nonetheless. I still think it’s important for the development of young players to at least get there though.

    Will – You were right on the money and I even thought of that during the game. Good call. I still am not sure it was the right move.

  5. Do we know why Charlie Bell didn’t play? Obviously Roko was playing well, so it was good to get him some burn, but Roko was the first sub in, not Bell. I haven’t seen any notes from Skiles on why Bell wasn’t in.

    Scott must sure be losing faith in Gadzuric, he couldn’t even get off the bench for this game. Kurt Thomas I can only assume stayed in his seat to save his legs for a game where he’s needed.

    Despite the thoughts of many, I’m excited to have Redd back on Saturday (supposedly). He can draw fouls, hit corner threes, and stretch defenses consistently. Something that Charlie and Roko can only do when they’re hot.

  6. Jeramey – Skiles said he hasn’t been happy with the energy off the bench as of late and spoke glowingly of Luke Ridnour. Leaves me to conclude that he’s not been enthused with Bell’s play of late. I think he went to Roko to see what he could do and was pleased enough to stay with him.

    He said Roko will get another shot Saturday.

  7. Hedo is far from the Raptors second best player. Andrea and Calderon have been playing better than him, and they are far from all-stars which should give you a sense of just how useless Big Turk has been.

  8. i have to admit that i was wrong on Delfino… at least for now. he really showed good effort last night.

    one observation of note, however: the Bucks have no interior presence without Bogut on the floor. the Raptors were able to cut to the basket for uncontested layups pretty much at will when Bogut was on the bench. this was even more evident in the previous game at Boston. the initial perimeter defense was slightly improved yesterday, but until they show some toughness in the paint, the Bucks are going to have real problems with a) foul trouble for Bogut and b) opponent FG % and FTA. I feel like i’m describing every Bucks team i’ve known for the last 25 years. :)

    I was going to also say that i don’t know why everyone thinks that Michael Redd is a great creator. I usually measure this indirectly through FTA, so i decided to compare Redd with some other notable 2nd-tier SGs in terms of FTA/G. Here’s what i found:

    Paul Pierce 7.7
    Ray Allen 6.1
    Michael Redd 5.1
    Richard Hamilton 4.4
    Jason Richardson 3.8

    JRich’s numbers surprised me the most. But Michael Redd gets to the line over five times a game. So i guess he is an okay creator. Or maybe just a ball hog who gets calls. :)

  9. Sr. notjesus,

    The lack of interior D without Bogut is sadly well known. But for the last 25 years? A random number? For the last 5-6, sure, but don’t get silly here. Ervin Johnson and Scott Williams will give you a slap upside your head, at least. Let alone Larry K.

    But no argument on M.Redd. Ballhog, at least the last couple years.