What’s the Difference Between Me and You: Hawks 106 – Bucks 102

Recap/Box Score

It would be difficult for things to be anymore clear right now.

After fattening up on the tired, the weak and the poor, the Bucks had quite a challenge in front of them Sunday evening.  Awaiting them was the completely healthy, fourth best team in the East.  After playing the Hornets without Chris Paul and the Heat without Dwyane Wade the Bucks would have to beat the Hawks with everyone to establish themselves as the favorites for a back-half playoff spot in the conference, perhaps even as high as the fifth seed.

But the Bucks just couldn’t get over the hump – and it actually made a lot of sense.

Mental mistakes and inexperience are to blame for the blown leads, first a seven point lead with 3:40 to go in regulation and then a five point lead with 3:17 left in overtime, but when things got tight, they kind of shook out as anyone would expect.

John Salmons has done wonders for the Bucks and has even had some big late game moments against the Pistons and Bobcats, but when the game is on the line and someone needs the ball, if John Salmons is the best option you have, you probably aren’t an upper echelon team.  The difference between Salmons and Joe Johnson was vivid in overtime, when Salmons couldn’t convert on two tries with the Bucks down two with a half minute to go.  On the other end, Johnson had been putting on a show, hitting fadeaways in the lane, a three from the corner and any other tough shot he was shooting.

I don’t mean to sound as if I’m ragging on Salmons, because his 32 points (11-20 FG 2-4 3FG 8-9 FT) had a lot to do with the Bucks being close.  But this is why teams are lining up to try and get  a star this off-season, they want guys who can make the plays Johnson was making at the end of the game.  They want the piece of mind at the end of the game that is knowing you have the best player on the court.  The Hawks had that Saturday.

Could the Bucks beat a team like the Hawks in their building?  Probably, but it won’t be closed out in the final minutes of the game.  The Bucks had their chances and may learn from the mistakes, grow from the experience and come out a better team for it.  However, better team or not, their personnel doesn’t scream clutch playmaking and fourth quarter buzzer beater wins against top teams.  If the Bucks want to beat the big boys in the East, they’d be well advised to get it done with time to spare.  The past week has seen the Bucks bully teams missing their top players and teams that aren’t all that good, and that’s what you’d expect from a playoff team.  The Bucks have the look of a playoff team, they just don’t quite have the look of a contender.

And at this stage in their development, that sounds about right.


Two wild cards in the Bucks last second shot game: can Andrew Bogut be relied upon in this role and is Brandon Jennings an option?  Bogut got the call on the Bucks last possession of regulation and the results were ugly.  Al Horford stuck with Bogut and made his shot very difficult, possibly even blocked it.  It’s traditionally more difficult for a big man to get a look, especially one that is strictly back to the basket like Bogut, so I was surprised to see Coach Skiles go to him for the last shot, but it was probably worth a try.

Especially with Jennings out of the game.  Jennings has gotten the call quite a bit this season for the Bucks with games on the line, but he watched this one from the sidelines after having his share of struggles against the Hawks.  He’s the Buck with the most upside and the one most likely to become a reliable crunch time scorer, but he isn’t there yet and that’s been clear most of the season.  For the purpose of development I may have liked to see him out there, but riding Bogut and Salmons down the stretch was the right move.

  • I thought Jerry Stackhouse would need to have a big game for the Bucks and did he ever.  For the second consecutive game, Stack had a season high, this time with 20 points (7-14 FG 0-2 3FG 6-6 FT).  If you told me at the beginning of the season that the Bucks would get 32 points out of Salmons and 20 out of Stackhouse in a game with playoff implications against the Hawks in late February and I had some kind of guarantee that you were right, well, I’d assume you were some sort of gypsy to be honest with you.  This scenario just seemed too far fetched.
  • Back-to-backs have been a struggle for Bogut and he didn’t have his dominating stuff (5-11 FG 4-4 FT), but he did provide the presence we’re accustomed to on defense, with four blocks.  The Hawks are a very good defensive team and Horford was better than I expected.  He’s a tough guy and wouldn’t give position up to Bogut all night.  This is the kind of game in which it’d be nice for Bogut to have a more reliable mid-range jumper.  We’ve seen it a few times this year, but the next step is for Bogut to trust it and use it to his advantage.
  • With Jennings struggling against a Hawks defense that threw Joe Johnson at him, Luke Ridnour responded with a December like game (6-8 FG 1-1 3 FG) and 13 points.  Ridnour did a lot of things right, but had a costly turnover late in the game.  Knowing Jennings’ penchant for holding onto the ball, one can only wonder if it would have been better to throw him into the fire down the stretch.  I still think Skiles had it right.

Final Thoughts

The Hawks are tough to defend.  I was watching the end of this one at a hotel, in the lobby and group had gathered.  Johnson was raining jumpers and making plays and a patron was pleading for the Bucks to double team him every time he came down the court.  But that’s the thing about the Hawks – they have four other guys that can beat you too.

If Johnson was doubled, Josh Smith would be more than happy to get an open look and go to the hoop.  Jamal Crawford would like nothing more than to hit an open three and put a game away.  The Hawks have options and they have a star.  They’re tough to defend and defend tough.  The more I write about the Hawks, the better I feel about the Bucks taking them to overtime in Atlanta.

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  1. It was a really good game and a statement made by the Bucks. It was also very evident why the Bucks need to be in search of a athletic power forward during the offseason.

    Although leaving Jennings out down the stretch may have been the best decision, I hope Jennings does not take that personal with his coach. I also think Stackhouse may have something to gripe about for sitting down the stretch. Again, hopefully he doesn’t take it personal.

    • I’m guessing Stack just couldn’t give them much more. Four games in five days probably took a lot of gas out of his tank given that he’s still not totally back yet. At least that seems the most logical reason for not having him in, because he was doing work.

  2. Jeremy of course Coach Skiles got it right. He’s never & can’t be wrong in your eyes. First, Why can’t Jennings finish quarters. Also the quick trigger on subs is high school. This isn’t a championship team & to sit both Luc & Jennings like that was stubborness beyond me. He rode Delfino who couldn’t hit anything. Ilyasova has to be a dim bulb on the court. His decisions baffle more than any player I’ve seen. Charlie Bell could still spell some minutes.

    Luke subbed in at the 4min mark of the 3rd qtr & Jennings didn’t see the court again. At the 4:30 mark up 5 I think after the T.O. Was the time to enter Jennings back in. The offense became stagnant as Luke is more a scoring guard than Point. The offense became dictated either Bogut or John one on one. The Hawks defense was waiting on them. Also why not double Johnson & make Smith a threat to make decisions. Coach went with his great instinct & sat Jennings way too long. Funny how the above comment said I hope Jennings doesn’t take it personal. Coach is always right & players should just listen. Players sometimes see & feel things coaches cannot. As big a competitor & winner BJ is I could only imagine how he felt. What a confidence booster. How do you blow a 7 game win streak? Do the exact opposite of what won you the 6 games in the 1st place. This was a 1st for the decision to go w/ RIdnour TO LONG. Coach panicked under the pressure of making the playoffs. This isn’t a good team & they’re overacheiving. Salmons has been great but lets take it easy with him being our go 2 guy. Go figure

    Folks remember Jennings earned his starting spot & is big reason #’s or not that you guys are in playoff contention. He wasn’t given the reigns or brought in as a savior. Also why do you think the Bucks selected a PG in the draft? Luke is a 7yr veteran & isn’t capable of playing long minutes as a Point. Together no problem. What a way to show trust in your rookie. I’ve been saying this all along. Skiles is to critical of Jennings which isn’t good development.(Micheal Bealsey-Miami)

    Skiles has the biggest ego on the team & by proving points during games isn’t a good sign. What did Luc do to be relegated to the bench? Why sit Jennings that long? What did Luke do aside from hitting his 1st 4fg in clutch & overtime. Nothing. He did his best Chris Duhon impersonation of dribbling East/West & posing no threat. Please by all means start Ridnour now & lets get rid of Jennings/Michael Redd. The fans & media who thing Luc is remotely close to being a better general than Brandon. Again have no clue nor have they ever played basketball at a high level. The Bucks need a player like Chris Duhon or Jordan Farmar to really appreciate how lucky they are. The funniest thing is if Brandon & Luke shoot & miss the exact same shot. Brandon’s is considered a rookie look or miss. I thought we were back in Italy yesterday. On N.B.A. fastbreak they highlighted Jennings 3pts 5ast w/o showing mins played.

    How does John Salmons have the green light over Jennings. It looks as if Brandon shoots now just to get fg’s up to keep the defense honest. He doesn’t have confidence anymore. The minute he does anything remotely fancy. Coach is down his back. Skiles overcoaching & stubborness will always get the best of him. This is a negative trait for any successful coach to have. Also if I recollect the Hawks won every qtr Brandon didn’t play from the 3rd on. If Brandon was subbed in & won it would have been Skiles credited. He stayed out & they lost. Then it’s the Hawks just outdueled them. Biased writing is sickening or maybe it’s just difference of opinions. We both see the game different. Like I said Skiles nor the organization can never be wrong. Same for the league or it’s officials. Which we all know isn’t true. Everyone is human & wrong at some point. Hopefully Brandon takes this the right way & plays so good they have no choice but to let him shine. I think Skiles would still say 55 is just 55. Just another game. Your best game is the one I’m most pleased with. Aside from his low FG% percentage he really isn’t missing bad. He just needs a little more arc & the confidence in himself & from his teamates & mostly his SERGEANT. To many times they look him of as if he’s selfish. The coaches decision to sit Jennings was wrong & costly. Even Phil Jackson admits when he or the officials are wrong. Skiles should be held in that same regard. BE ACCOUNTABLE. He is just a rookie. A damn good one at that. Just be thankful he went overseas & not to college. They’re would have been no way he felt that low in the draft. Maybe you guys would have been better off with Rubio.

    • Wrong.

      The Hawks are bigger, better, and more atheltic that the Bucks hands down. At every position (except 3) they pose a problem for the Bucks and Skiles managed to coach the Bucks to a very competitive, close loss.

      Josh Smith messes every line-up the Bucks had up. Intimidates every offensive Bucks possession. The Bucks have no one to guard him. Ersan’s lack of offense was huge because we needed him to guard Smith for size.

      Joe Johnson screws up the rest. He’s too big for Salmons, Stackhouse, and Delfino. LRMAM would have to come in at the expense of our 2 or 3 positions on offense which happened to be our only productive positions.

      Hard game to coach as are most games with the top 4 ranked teams in each conference for the Bucks. Coaching is one part, but not having the personnel to get the job done is another. It is possible that we could have won this game, but its an unlikely scenario.

  3. What would I know? Thanks MIluakee Buck. Here’s to Luke you’re my hero & the H.O.F. center in Bogut. Let’s not forget about the best up & coming coach in the league. To bad you guys have the last place in votes in the R.O.Y. Milwaukee Buck are you related to Jeremy. All you’re doing is defending the coach. Does a coach have anything to do with a rookie peaking or leveling off? Can a coach overcoach? Do they make mistakes at times that cost games? Is the no headband or accesories rule overboard & chilidish in today’s league? Who implements something like that? Does Skiles still fell he was better than Penny Hardaway? Luke Ridnour wouldn’t play for some coaches in this league. Also you’re another who thinks Luke should start & Jennings is playing poorly. He didn’t want to be here anyways. Who does? Maybe only Skiles, Bogut & Luke. Fans & coaches must feel some kind of way to a brash talented rookie taking over. Way to bring that movement to a halt. Also doesn’t Bogut pay for his fans/section to come to the game.

    • LMAO! You speaking for me was quite humorous.

      I’ll answer you’re questions tho:
      -You wouldn’t know
      -Luke’s not my hero. You are.
      -Bogut’s chances at the hall of fame are still to be determined
      -Skiles may be one of the best young coaches in the league
      -Brandon Jennings is a great rookie, his confidence has decreased ever since December, I don’t know who to blame for it…him, Skiles, Bogut, Redd, Kelvin Sampson, IDK. Statistically, Jennings is overplayed as of late, but he gets LOTS of room for error.
      -I don’t think me and Jeremy are related. I do think we are both Bucks fans. I do think part of being a fan is not bashing you team, its players, its coach, and believing that what you have will get it done, until you can improve your situation. After all only 7 teams have been able to upgrade their situation enough to win a championship in the last 25 years. Maybe 8 this year if Lebron, Jamison, and Shaq is enough of an upgrade for the Cavs.
      -A coach has to do with both a rook peaking and leveling off
      -A coach can overcoach, but a coach has to learn how to coach just like a player has to learn how to play. Thats why he’s a young coach.
      -If you want to point fingers Skiles lost us a game earlier this year with Charlie Bell guarding Kobe for a buzzer beater instead of LRMAM, I guess you could credit this one the same if you wanted 1 person to blame.
      -Headbands and accessories? I’ve never heard of it, but if thats one of Skiles rules its minimal. The Mavs should let Caron Bulter chew his straws which has some actual value to the player more than just looks.
      -Who cares if one player thinks he’s better than the next. Is T.I. the King of the South if Lil Wayne is the Best Rapper Alive?
      -Ridnour might not play, if he played for Greg Popavich or Jerry Sloan. But he’d play of almost everybody else the way he’s playing this year.
      -I haven’t heard much about Jennings being disgruntled to be in Milwaukee, he’s been quite humble about it. I knew he wanted to go to NYC but who doesn’t?
      -Bogut does pay for fans to come to the game…I think its great! Atlanta still can’t fill up the Philips Arena, maybe Marvin Williams should do the same thing in ATL.

  4. Thanks again. I like your answeres & this was very well written. Do I agree? NO. Though that’s the beauty of this site. I don’t see disagreeing as bashing. When you like something the Truth can hurt at times. Everything is fine & will be smooth for years to come. Good Luck to the Bucks this year & the near future. Somtimes the same things that make you great. Also are your biggest hold-ups. You also missed some of the questions.

  5. hey, what I’d like to know is what your fixation with Skiles is. Whenever you post here, it’s some crazy rant against Skiles. Jennings finishes lots of games, but when he doesn’t finish a game on the road where he’s playing badly (and he was), suddenly it’s all about how Skiles is a monster, a dictator, etc etc. What’s your problem with him? It’s clear you have one, just admit it. You said Skiles was benching Jennings when he was playing 35 minutes a game, now one benching and back you are. Why?

  6. curak,You said it. I have a fixation with Skiles. I personally don’t like his temperment. Didn’t really like him as a player. The same could be said about how Jeremy,Skiles,MB & probably you ride a rookie playing PG at that. I don’t like how the season has went. I’m a big fan of Bogut & Luke along with most of the team. They just approach a GAME to business like which is no fun & won’t translate into serious contention. Seriously the main reason I’m on this site is due to the fact. I’m a huge Brandon Jennings fan & have followed him toward the end of High School until now. I’ve seen his talents & know he’s special due to playing the game myself at a high level. I’ve seen him go against some of the best & easily dominate. The N.B.A. game is easy for him. He just needs a free wheeling coach that would let him play & have fun. Which would bode well for you guys as well. Think Ginobli & Poppivich. The Reward is greater than the risk. Skiles got coach of the month for Feb. When most of the credit should be to John Salmons for playing & fitting in the way he has. He’s given us a missing componet,piece or whatever you’d like. Hey I’m biased toward Jennings. This blog is bias toward the team & Skiles.

    It would be funny if Scott Skiles replied & cursed me out. I wonder if he even reads it. I used to coach & what was most important to me. Was my critics & fans. They were brutally honest. Which is what I needed to hear to take an unbias approach to the situation/game. It prepared better than any book or game could have. With each game the critics became less & less. While my coaching & teams progress grew by leaps & bounds. Take for example the game came easy to me. So when I’m scouting or critiquing a player. One with intagibles never caught my eye. No matter how important that was. One of my biggest haters taught me that. Now I’ve learned a perfect balance. Fault me for caring. I don’t hate him personally. Just don’t like his style of coaching. It’s more for the High School & College level. These are grown men. Some who are just more talented & physically gifted. Therefore they want play as hard as someone lacking those abilities. It’s a hard line to merge. Player/Coach. Especially for PG’s. We’re as stubborn as they come. A player once told me. “Coach your saying & doing most of the right things. It’s just how you say it or do it”. The player is in the N.B.A. currently. Each player is different & may react different to your actions. Cause & Effect. Hopefully you understand where I’m coming from.

    I watch almost every Bucks game. So I’m not just some random fan. Spewing comments to discredit Skiles. He has done for the most part an amazing job with the talent he has. That being said. I still think it was a mistake to sit Jennings that long(Hawks game). The possibility of it having a negative effect at this point in the season. Not worth it. Yes he’s streaky but a back up guard should never play more minutes than the starter. Teams & players have roles. Once everyone knows them things fall into line. I know it can’t be easy handing a team over to a rookie. If it’s best for all involved why not. This team for the future. Needs Brandon a lot more than Luke Ridonour. Who has been a steady Veteran. Luke was one of my favorite guards at Oregon with Fred & Luke. I’m a true basketball fan. Not one that just says he is. A lot of fans think Luke should be starting over Brandon. I beg to differ as this season has been somewhat of success weighing everything. Jeremey bashes Brandon more than anybody on the team. He killed Delfino early on & he’s also a major reason for the success. Ilyasova has just dissapeared. Jodie Meeks I still didn’t get that decision. Gadzuric could still play some hustle minutes. Charlie Bell with all he’s given us. Could spell a few 3’s in the corner & stops. I’m a NY’er so i could tell you how lucky you guys are to have BJ. I look at Duhon & laugh myself to sleep everynight. Coaching at this level is more management than anything. You coach in the off-season & practice. Come game time you let the instincts take over. They’re supposed to be prepared by then. Lastly Jennings is a very emotional player. He plays how he feels. I’m very good at reading people. I don’t know him personally but could see he’s lost confidence in his jumper. Skiles would be the best person to re-instill the belief. Be patient as you guys have the best rookie regardless to what any magazine or analysts would like to tell you. Time will tell. Also If Jennings regains some of his early prowness. You guys could & will upset somebody in the playoffs. Sky’s the limit. Trust me I’m at least 20% right. I’m not what Miluakee Buck may think I am.

    Curak, I also want to know why Jeremy hates me. Seriously. Isn’t it good that I’m even on this site talking to you guys. I enjoy the opinions of everyone. We as a whole aren’t open minded enough.

    • I assure you I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. I just think you overreact a tad to any perceived Jennings slight my man. I’m frequently writing about how important Jennings is to the future of the Bucks and how good of a job he’s done in running the team. You typically don’t comment on those posts, so it’s possible you just don’t notice them. It’s not always going to be a smooth ride with him and Coach Skiles.

      Skiles isn’t always going to make the right decisions, like any relationship they’ll have peaks and valleys. Should he have played Jennings in the fourth? Maybe he should have, but he seemed to feel Ridnour would give him the best chance to win, much like he felt at the start of the season that starting Jennings over Ridnour was better for the team.

      I like any conversation on the site as long as it’s rational and not hate centered, so no “hey”, I don’t hate you.

  7. I do. I hate you. A lot. 😉

    Honestly, I don’t know where you get the “critical of Jennings” thing. I’ve been reading this blog all season (hadn’t been reading too many NBA blogs before that, wasn’t too inspired to follow the Bucks much till then…) and I can’t say that Jeremy has been very critical of Jennings at all. There’s much more of that on sites like the local newspaper in Milwaukee, which is troll-infested anyway.

    His take, which I agree with, is that he is the future and a great talent, but that there will be bumps on the road along the way. I think Skiles has been great about giving him room to grow. I actually think Skiles has loosened up some on his players and for the most part rewards effort pretty fairly.

    Also, Delfino was awful for a while, so he deserved criticism. But maybe you missed Jeremy’s post about how the “New Delfino” was a major reason for the Bucks’ recent improvement. It is and he did. And Skiles deserves some credit for moving players around and finding the right combinations in a fairly tricky season. It could all go south, but he had a good month, as did the team.