Milwaukee opens the regular season on Saturday October 30, which should be no surprise for a few reasons. First, Milwaukee typically starts every year on the road for whatever reason (26 years in a row!), pushing their first home game to the last weekend in October. Second, it’s a Saturday night home game, which will be something of a weekly tradition in Milwaukee this season. The Bucks will play a home game on a Saturday 17 times this season. Couple that with the increased expectations and excitement about the team and we’re looking at a possible significant attendance boom. Milwaukee had just 13 Saturday home games last year.
With 23 back-to-backs this year (22+ for the third straight season), Milwaukee will tie Chicago for the league lead in that category. Right out of the gates, they come pretty quickly. Milwaukee has three back-to-backs by the end of week two in the season, with two sweeps looking possible and some intriguing tests in a home game against Portland and a road game in Boston for games four and five.
National TV Games: 4
Milwaukee has just four games on the national slate, the November 3rd game at Boston, February 16 vs. Denver, March 6 vs. Boston, and the April 6 contest at Miami, but that’s nothing to fret. Last season they had zero and ended up playing three (as I recall) on ESPN. Starting with four is progress, bumping that up to six or seven with stellar play would be even better.
March: The Month of Opportunity
Much like last season, March will be a month of opportunity for Milwaukee. 15 games are on the docket for the Bucks and with 10 of them coming at home, the team could be heading into April like a lion. And the five road games aren’t exactly all against world beaters, Washington, Boston, New York, Charlotte and Toronto all could be beatable.
Come for the Globetrotters, stay for the Bucks
For the first time in over 35 years, Milwaukee will be ringing in the New Year in the Bradley Center with a home game on January 1 against the Mavericks. If tradition holds true and the Harlem Globetrotters play in Milwaukee on New Year’s Eve, you could set up a nice little two day family basketball fest here in the Mil to open up 2011. Or recover from your hangover with a Bloody Mary at the BC and check out the Roddy Beaubois/Brandon Jennings rematch. And hope Dirk doesn’t sink another buzzer beater.
No extended stays out West
Where this season’s schedule really favors the Bucks is the lack of an extended trip out West. Remember last season’s death march to the left coast in January? Michael Redd blew out his knee, Andrew Bogut missed a layup in Phoenix and the Bucks got blown out a few times. The saving grace was a very well played game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day against Houston and the signing of Jerry Stackhouse the same day, two things that seemed to have sparked the turnaround that would last through April. Well there is no death march this year. The Bucks longest trips to the West are a three game trip to Portland, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Sacramento in late December and three in late January/early February against the Clippers, Suns and warriors. The December swing should merit extra attention though. Milwaukee has two games on a mini-tour of Texas the week before in Dallas and San Antonio before coming home to play Utah as a prelude to their three games. It’s a five game trip, but with the benefit of a stop home for rest.
Miniature home stands
Last season, Milwaukee had the luxury of two five-game home stands, something they won’t see this year. Milwaukee has four four-gamers, ranging from difficult (Orlando, Miami, Indiana and Houston) to easy Indiana, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com