Now that the pre-season has wrapped up with another loss, 119-118 in overtime to Minnesota, naturally it would seem like the Bucks have taken some steps towards figuring out a lot about who they are and what kind of team they’ll be this season. Eight games should be ample time to figure out an identity and answer a lot of questions about a team. But it’s fairly easy to sum up the Bucks pre-season in one sentence.
There is still a significant amount of mystery surrounding the team as they close in on the start of the regular season. While Coach Scott Skiles said John Salmons would likely be ready for the start of the season, Jon Brockman and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s statuses are up in the air. Salmons was unable to get into an exhibition game and Corey Maggette only played one. There was still some concern in the locker room Friday night as to how this would all fit together.
“It’s going to be tough, we have some adjustments to make,” center Andrew Bogut said after Friday night’s game. “John hasn’t played a game with us this pre-season and hasn’t really practiced with us really yet. This was Corey’s first game back so … that’s not enough. We still need to pick things up this week with practice, one game’s not enough. We have a lot of work to do in that sense.”
Keyon Dooling has seen his share of adjusting in the league, having played for four different teams in 10 years.
“Hopefully these next couple days in practice we’ll get guys back and have our full unit,” he said. “It’s an adjustment period to figure out where guys like the ball and figure out where you fit. I think the learning curve is faster when you have older guys who have been around a few different systems.”
There were certainly some positive signs Friday night, mainly Corey Maggette’s free throw parade. Maggette mad 17-20 free throws in 14 minutes of action, while attempting just two shots. It was one of the more bizarre stat lines I’ve ever seen, pre-season or not. Players were openly laughing about the absurdity on the court and in the locker room after the game, but this could just be the beginning for Maggette. He could be well on his way to leading the NBA in free throws once again, he’ll obviously be a featured part of what the Bucks are trying to do offensively.
Of course, playing the role of dynamite in 10 on court explosions a night can be harmful to one’s health. It is not difficult to understand why Maggette has only played 70+ games in five of his 11 NBA seasons and has never played 82 games. Yes, whatever Maggette gives the Bucks in his 60 some games this year will be more than they ever could have imagined from Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric, but his absences and returns from the lineups this year could certainly force the Bucks to alter their plans on any given night.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts closed out the pre-season in strong fashion, scoring 15 points on 6-11 shooting, while grabbing a pre-season high of eight rebounds. 15 points on 11 shots is exactly the kind of production the Bucks will be looking for out of CD-R off the bench and it was encouraging to see CD-R close out the pre-season with a couple of strong games in a row. Getting into the paint is without question a strength of his, but finishing wasn’t going so smoothly for him earlier in the month. With John Salmons returning, he’ll likely head back to the bench after starting all of pre-season, but should get 20 minutes or so a night as long as he’s producing like he has the last couple games fairly consistently.
- Bogut’s final line on Friday night looked okay, he scored seven points on 3-6 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots in 25 minutes, but something about it concerned me. How does Bogut only tally six shots in 25 minutes? He scored so easily on two possessions early in the fourth quarter against Darko Milicic, that it seemed to be a crime Milwaukee wasn’t going to him every time down the court. Everyone is excited to see Drew Gooden putting up some strong numbers in the pre-season and even more excited to see Maggette blowing up the foul system, but it will be very important for the Bucks to not forget about Andrew Bogut once the regular season begins.
- The Bucks hadn’t dealt with the technical foul issues that a lot of the league had encountered through the pre-season before Friday night. But they got an up close and personal view of what Billy Hunter has been complaining about once the game tipped. Six technical fouls were called Friday night, though only one came on the well behaved Bucks. Gooden leapt off the bench to celebrate a Bogut block, only to hear a whistle and appear to be protesting. The second whistle came quick and Gooden was T’ed up. The Timberwolves were hit with one technical after the next, including one on an assistant coach seated behind their bench. The players were roaring in laughter after some of them, notably one on Corey Brewer, who appeared to be doing nothing on the end of the bench.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan of Bucksketball on Facebook (click in the sidebar).