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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carlos. Delfino. Block. So so sick.
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.