Another game, another loss that I’ll attempt to rationalize. I shouldn’t even say attempt, because these pre-season losses are all easy to shake off and ignore. And Thursday night’s loss to Cleveland is probably the easiest to ignore of them all. Thursday night the Bucks played Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden together for roughly 15 minutes, the most game action those two have seen together. Wait a second, you may ask, if Bogut and Gooden got a lot of minutes together, then why did the Bucks lose the game?
Well, there’ s a big difference between playing the two of them together to get experience and playing them together to try and win. Bogut total 21 minutes, while Gooden finished with 22, so we’re not exactly talking regular season minutes for these guys. Both ended up wit a +5 plus/minus on the evening and each of them was swatting shots with a vengeance. Bogut finished with four blocks, while Gooden tallied three. The three blocks give Gooden seven now for the pre-season, a tidy average of one per game, significantly higher than his .3 career average. Even if he doesn’t block shots at a career pace, he’ll still help out down low. The plus five each of the Bucks big men had tonight indicates that they are on the road to getting comfortable. And comfort is the Bucks focus right now, not beating teams with healthy rosters in meaningless games.
So I’m okay seeing the Bucks drop a game to the Cavaliers 83-78 five days before the regular season starts.
Other notes from Thursday’s game:
- Bogut’s getting ready to do away with his glove according to Charles F. Gardner.
- Brandon Jennings had a shot of his rejected, three turnovers and just one assist in his first seven minutes, obviously not a stellar way to start off a game. He did rebound though. In Jennings following 25 minutes, he scored 11 points, dropped 6 more assists and turned the ball over just one more time. It’s so difficult to gauge how Jennings is doing without seeing him play and in such fruitless games, but it’s probably safe to say everyone was hoping for a little more out of him this pre-season. It’s not the end of the world, but his improvement remains a question at this point.
- Before the game I was hoping to see a big night from Chris Douglas-Roberts and he came close enough. CD-R finished with 16 points on 7-14 shooting, a solid effort. He’s one of the players the Bucks brought in this off-season to address their offensive issues and lack of free throw attempts, so it’d be nice to see him finish games with more than two free throw attempts, but each game is a separate battle. So long as he’s not yanked for defensive lapses or turnover issues, I’ll rarely complain about a night of 50% shooting from a player whose role is scoring off the bench.
- Ersan Ilyasova came into Thursday night’s game shooting just 32% in the pre-season and did little to improve on that. Ilyasova shot 3-9 from the field, but did manage to grab eight rebounds in 28 minutes, doing his best to rescue his stat line. The contrasting successes of he and Carlos Delfino this pre-season have been interesting. Delfino is averaging 14 points per game on 49% shooting. The probable Bucks starting small forward seems to be thriving after a strong run in the World Championships, while Ilyasova can’t find the hoop despite being Turkey’s best player this summer.
- I was curious about former Buck Ramon Sessions before the game and he’s further piqued my interest after a very strong performance against Milwaukee. Sessions finished with 26 points on 10-19 shooting, a performance that reminds me exactly the kind of player Sessions is. It’s funny that Milwaukee eventually nabbed Brandon Jennings to replace Sessions, because they really are quite different in how they tally points. Sessions is a very impressive finisher, finishing at the rim on better than 53% of his shots in each of his three seasons in the league. Jennings struggles in the paint have been noted repeatedly, but he’s an exceptionally better 3-point shooter than Sessions. Sessions eFG% (effective field goal percentage, a statistic that adjusts for 3-point shots) on threes last season, was just 10.1% as he was 1-15. Jennings was 56.1% They can both light a team up, but in very different ways.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then follow Bucksketball on Facebook (become a fan in the sidebar).