Buzzer beaters and the days after

Last second victories are sweet.  They’re more exciting, fun to watch and dramatic.  They’re everything kids dream about as they grow up.

But are they the magic elixirs many hope they will end up being?

Common thought is that a win like the Bucks thrilling win over the Pacers last night gives the players something more than the average win does.  That thrill of, “hey, something finally has gone right for us”, carries over and helps the players grow more cohesive and play with more energy going forward.  When a struggling team wins a game like the one the Bucks won over the Pacers, everyone wonders, has momentum shifted?  Will things now turn around?

I’m inclined to believe it just isn’t that simple.  I’ve seen this movie before.

  • I was there early in the 2005-06 season when Mo Williams dropped in the deep three on calender night to upend the Pacers after the Bucks trailed by double digits for the majority of the evening.  Milwaukee went on to lose five of their next seven after the emotional win that had them starting the season 4-1.  Three of their next four losses were to the Clippers, Kings and Jazz.  Western conference road trips are apparently immune to spirit boosting win momentum.
  • For a bit of more recent history, perhaps you’ll remember Bobby Simmons‘ emotional return to the Bradley Center in January of 2009.  Simmons got an open look at a three in front of the Bucks bench, knocked it down, sneered at his former teammates and felt pretty great about himself.  Then Luke Ridnour finished the Nets off just before the buzzer with a 5-foot floater.  Simmons was silenced and the Bucks seemed ready to go on a roll after having alternated wins and losses over the past eight games.  Not so fast.  The Bucks continued that pattern for five more games before finally losing to the Clippers and Blazers back to back.  After this win, Milwaukee lost four of six.
  • And for a team that sadly might match up even better with these current Bucks, at least in terms of winning percentage, (38.1 now, 31.7 then) I direct you back the Larry Krystkowiak era.  Believe it or not, there were some good times then.  Like Michael Redd’s purported first buzzer beater of his career.  On February 26th 2008, Redd beat the buzzer with a three and the Bucks downed the Cavs.  Krystkowiak was feeling it, as his team had won three of four.  “That was big-time,” he said at the time. “We’re riding a little mini-wave here, and we need to try to keep it rolling.”  Milwaukee could not keep it rolling.  The Bucks lost nine of their next 10.

So forgive me if I’m not ready to proclaim the Bucks fixed.  But, as always, I’m still encouraged by their defensive effort.  Teams that are ready to roll over don’t rank sixth in the league in defensive efficiency.  Coach Scott Skiles seems to think better times lay ahead, so long as the defensive effort is there.

“Even though the guys have been a little frustrated and gotten discouraged, they’ve still kept their defensive effort pretty tight,” he said post game last night, “even though we’d like to have our record at least reversed from what it is now, at least. But it isn’t.  The fact their still out their battling, you have to believe at some point, the 15-footer, the layups and the pick and pop shots are going to go in at a more normal percentage.”

And when that time comes, if that time comes, I’ll be a lot more excited about the Bucks immediate future than I am after a buzzer beating win in which they shot 36%.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog  Follow him on Twitter.  Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).

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