In honor of Thanksgiving (have a happy and thankful one by the way), a recipe for a typical Milwaukee Bucks game this season.
- 3 quarters miserable offense
- 1 average offensive quarter
- 4 quarters stingy defense
- 15 John Salmons‘ drives into heavy traffic
- One strong individual offensive performance
- A very, VERY light sprinkle of fast break points
- 50 (or so) rebounds
- A limited number of turnovers (no creating means no risking the ball)
- 10 Corey Maggette free throws
- 1 Maggette pass
- 10 maddeningly different looking Brandon Jennings shots
- 1 strong performance from a player on the other team
(This more or less sums up the Cavs game if you didn’t notice)
This dish can be cooked in a variety of ways. Sometimes, Milwaukee has an average first quarter offensively and then uses the remaining three for their miserable ones, sometimes it’s the second and sometimes it’s the third. Whatever the case may be, just know there won’t be more than one good looking offensive quarter. In Friday’s 83-81 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, things went pretty well in the third quarter offensively, thanks to their random strong individual offensive performance, this time courtesy of Keyon Dooling.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee had a rare poor defensive quarter at the same time, surrendering 31 points to the Cavs in the third, largely thanks to high screen and rolls that opened things up for Mo Williams to hit jump shot after jump shot. Of course Mo Williams started hitting jump shots, because A. that’s all Mo Williams has ever done and B. every night someone gets hot and begins the Bucks demise.
Shannon Brown, David West, Thaddeus Young, Wesley Matthews. All of them have at some point gotten hot against the Bucks and played a big role in a loss that looked similar to Friday night’s.
Every game the Bucks lose lately seems to mix together the ingredients above in a variety of ways, but always with the same, low-scoring, depressing result. It was fun to see Dooling get hot and finish with 18 points, but that doesn’t seem much more rewarding than seeing Earl Boykins get hot in Atlanta or Ersan Ilyasova do so against the Knicks. Milwaukee has had spurts of offense from a variety of sources, but isn’t getting any consistency out of anyone. That’s a problem that falls back on the starters.
Jennings’ one for 10 effort against the Cavs was a disaster. Players start in the NBA because, in theory, they are the better and more consistent players. Jennings may be one of the least consistent Bucks I can remember. He’s 21 though, so at least a little bit, that makes sense. His age actually saves me from worrying too much about whether or not he’ll ever figure out how to shoot the same shot every time or create looks for his teammates. It doesn’t help much in the short term though.
In the short term, the only positive that seemed to come out of Wednesday’s loss was a good effort out of Larry Sanders. He was active and plugged in often, blocking a 3-pointer, poking away a few other loose balls, finishing around the rim and generally using the tools he has for good. He disappeared a few times, but he could have been gassed since this was his first extended look. Seeing him post up, at this stage, is a disaster, but he has very nice form on his jumper and hit a couple mid-range shots that looked pure. That’s something he can do. It’s too early to say whether or not he can do it consistently, but having that threat is nice.
It’s good that something was nice Wednesday.
But today is a new day. It’s Thanksgiving, so eat lots of food, enjoy time with your families and give thanks that, for now, at least the Bucks are still in Milwaukee. Better days are ahead, they have to be.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com and likes extra gravy on his turkey. Follow him on Twitter. Also Facebook is to the right.