I guess this is the life of a jump-shooting team that plays better than average defense. If you’re looking for someone that can hang around against the best teams, the Bucks are the squad for you. If you’re looking for someone that can actually beat those teams? Well you might want to keep looking, because game after game the Bucks continue to fall justshort.
And to be honest, I don’t even know how they kept this one close. Typically it hurts the Bucks quite a bit when Brandon Jennings doesn’t have it going, but they’ve at least been capable of surviving thanks to the strong play this year of Luke Ridnour. But neither of them had it going Friday. Jennings could have built a small town house after his 5-21 effort (though the 7-7 contribution from the line was a nice change of pace), and Ridnour looked passive and ineffective in going 0-3 in 17 minutes.
Furthermore, Andrew Bogut battled foul trouble all night long and was limited to just 17 minutes. The minutes limited his effectiveness, but even when he was in there it wasn’t the usual Bogut Show we’ve been seeing lately. 2-7 with just four points. The Bucks aren’t going to win a lot of games that Andrew Bogut gets just four shots in. I guess that whole consistency thing remains on hold for the time being.
At this point, even I am wondering, how the hell did the Bucks even hang around in this one?
- Ersan Ilyasova followed up his stellar Wednesday night effort against the Lakers with an equally impressive game Friday night. 18 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block in a very active performance. And that’s exactly what we’ve come to know and love from “Turk Nowitzki”. He was always running around, he took a charge or two, he launched an ill-advised step back three that airballed and generally attempted to cause mayhem. When the Bucks were on the ropes halfway through fourth quarter, it was Ersan who responded with nine of the Bucks next 11 points. He’s never been known for his clutch play, so that was a pleasant surprise to me.
- So, Michael Redd was not the offensive dynamo that returned Wednesday. He wasn’t great, seven points on just 2-9 shooting. He missed two more free throws on four attempts, dropping him down to 55.6 percent from the stripe on the year. So it looks a little ugly for Redd in this one. But it’s absolutely worth noting that in the Bucks 12-point third quarter, Redd did not see any action. The Bucks again fell into an offensive coma, and when Redd returned to play nine fourth quarter minutes, the Bucks had a plus 3. He went 0-3 with 2 points, but chipped in a rebound and two assists. Redd didn’t go to the cup as often in this one, only one shot within six feet after eight such shots against L.A. That’s where the Bucks most need Redd. Jump-shooters are a plenty on this team, they need Redd to get to the hole and get to the line.
- The first quarter is where I’ll begin. Lebron James finished quarter one with 11 points, seven of which he scored inside of the last 2:17. Why is that relevant? Luc Richard Mbah a Moute checked out of the game with 2:17 left to go in the first. Ah! LRMAM played 14 minutes and allowed exactly four of Lebron’s 26 points. It’s a conundrum. LRMAM is the Bucks best defender, but might be their worst offensive wing player. He struggles to hit open shots and can’t create anything, so when the Bucks fall into ruts, he’s unable to really help dig them out. But he can do more to control a Lebron than anyone else! It’s tough and the last two games it’s appeared that Coach Scott Skiles has opted for a little extra offense than LRMAM’s d. The problem is that leaves Charlie Bell covering guys much larger than him … and they dominate … and the Bucks end up losing. Sigh.
- The free throw line. You know the story, it’s just a new game that’s all. 24-31 Cleveland, 11-14 Bucks. Sigh. To make matters worse, the Bucks only connected on two more three’s than Cleveland. Sure, the Bucks held Cleveland to 42.4 percent shooting, but that doesn’t go as far when Milwaukee shoots 36.4. Just another day’s work I guess.
If Cleveland doesn’t have Lebron, they don’t win this game. Just like if the Lakers didn’t have Kobe they probably wouldn’t have beat Milwaukee on Wednesday. It’s nice to have superstars, they take over games and make plays for teammates at the same time. That’s tough to stop. Jennings finished 5-21 and wasn’t able to create anything for the Bucks on the last play. Not that creating against Cleveland is very easy, they’re among the league’s best defensively and this is the second time in Jennings’ life he’s played them. So had he created a good look or hit a three there, it would have been beyond exceptional. That’s how things typically are in the league for rookies and it’s something we’ll likely be seeing more often than not the rest of this year despite Jennings’ talents.
But it’s not too difficult to envision the end of games two years from now when Jennings IS able to create something and the Bucks DO have the talent to win these kinds of games. And then Bucks fans will be talking about their superstar and how he’s the reason they’re winning. I hope.