When the Bucks play good teams we’re reminded why bench players are on the bench

Beno Udrih and Milwaukee's bench have been inconsistent lately. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

Categories: Bucks Player Features


  1. PattiRafalskiDavison

    Identifying a problem and being able to solve it are two different things.  I believe Hammond & Skiles are aware of the problems, it’s just not that easy to acquire those superstars that we lack.  There’s the camp that thinks we should get rid of whatever value we have for a possible draft pick that’s going to solve all our problems.  Maybe, but I think that’s a long shot and now you have one young talented player without any other valuable players to assist in their development.  Pistons got a fabulous pick in Monroe and they are still struggling.  You can trade players…like Magette for Jackson.  If there was a valuable trade out there Hammond would do it in a heart beat.  And you can try to pick someone up that’s a free agent.  I choose to stay optimistic.  We seem to have good chemistry.  The Bucks are a relatively young team.  We will get a first round draft pick.  We have cap space so that we just might be able to pick someone up to help this summer.  Meanwhile, this is a very likable bunch of young men that are entertaining and could have a break out game on any night!

  2. Well yeah good teams usually have good benches and I think the Knicks bench right now is very good almost at times better than the starters. I dont think the bucks will be able to handle the knicks tonight. Rick  one of my writers wrote a piece on tonights game as well some nice betting strategies for u to use to make some cash http://nbawagers.com/2012/03/nba-gambling-for-new-york-knicks-vs-milwaukee-bucks/

  3. RIGHT ON THE MONEY!  All their players are of the same ability. NO superstars. Worse, they have way too much of the same kind of player. Soft, tall slow white guys taking three pointers, combined with shetland point guards that shoot first. NO centers. NO tough guys, outside of Luc Richard and Ersan, both of whom are usually smaller than their opponents. Clearly this team was put together without any plan whatsoever. I’d hate to be Skiles, because he can’t count on any consistency from one starter and 14 bench players.

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @flyingking Dunleavy is an exception to your comment, but otherwise, right on.

  4. MatthewSchwendinger

    I am getting VERY impatient for a big game from Ellis. He averaged 21 ppg with the Warriors and he’s averaging like 10 with us… Defensively he’s been pretty good though. I want…wait…I NEED to see the stardom (or the level or stardom) he has from him…

    • MatthewSchwendinger

      I’m starting to think Udoh has made more of a difference than Ellis has ‘so far’…

      • PattiRafalskiDavison

         @MatthewSchwendinger That was a huge opportunity last night with Lin & Stoudemire out.  Ouch.  Game lost because the only way our guys could stop Knicks was to foul them.  In foul trouble early and fouled often.  Udoh was indeed important part of that trade.  We NEED him and he’s putting out the effort for us.  Kind of like that offensive move under the hoop….open jumpers need work.

    •  @MatthewSchwendinger You would have thought he would have done it at home against the Pacers or Celtics. The BC was almost sold out.