Three games in three days. A daunting task when you think about the speed and skill of NBA players. There are no nights off when a game is on the schedule. It’s hard for the best NBA team to loaf its way through a game, much less a team like the Milwaukee Bucks. But every team this season has had to go through that unusually difficult scheduling stretch this season.
So how did the Bucks handle it?
About the same way they’ve handled everything this season and especially lately. They beat the bad team by a lot and lost to the good teams.
“We need all the wins we can get,” Scott Skiles said after the Bucks lost to the Indiana Pacers Saturday night. “I don’t think think just beating the sub-.500 teams is going to get us in. We’ve got to beat some fo the teams that are, record wise, better than us. It’s just what we have to do and we’ve struggled to do that.”
You certainly have struggled, coach. Milwaukee is 6-22 against teams with a record better than .500 coming into the game. A theory? Milwaukee’s bench doesn’t pack quite the same punch against really good teams that it does against the league’s lesser squads.
Teams that are good are good for a reason. They have a bunch of good players and probably a superstar or two. But they certainly can go beyond five or six deep. Where the Bucks found success against the Raptors, Nets, Warriors, Blazers and Bobcats, they found none against the Celtics and Pacers in their past two losses.
In Milwaukee’s past 11 games they’ve played seven below .500 teams and four better than .500 teams. Against the seven bad teams, Milwaukee’s bench has on average outscored the opposing bench 41.8-29.1. Against the four good teams the Bucks bench has been outscored by an average of 43.8-27.5. Yikes. The problem? Milwaukee’s entire roster is essentially one big bench. The starters and the bench players on the Bucks are pretty much interchangeable. That’s why we’ve seen so much lineup fluctuation over the past two seasons for this team.
Skiles seems to try and ride the hot hands as long as he can. Sometimes guys get hot for a while like we’ve seen with Ersan Ilyasova, but it’s still tough to know if that’s a permanent thing or a temporary one. Milwaukee lacks the established stars that create consistency.
I hate to distill this thing down so simply, but Milwaukee’s having the same problem they always have – they aren’t that good.
Milwaukee has 18 games left. Seven against teams that have records above .500 and 11 against teams under .500. Of course, the Knicks kind of throw these numbers off. That’s probably an above .500 team that’s had kind of a crazy season that’s left them under .500. And Milwaukee plays New York twice. The point?
Coach Skiles is right: The Bucks are going to have to figure out a way to beat good teams.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.