Bogut Injury: Bucks center out 7-10 days; looking ahead to December

Sportsbubbler’s Jim Ganzer reported on our Bucks blog Tuesday that center Andrew Bogut will be out 7-10 days due to the bruised knee he suffered Monday taking a charge against Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

Here’s the release from the Bucks:

“Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond announced today that center Andrew Bogut will miss approximately 7-10 days of action with a bone bruise to his left knee.  An MRI taken today in Atlanta, GA, revealed the injury.

Here’s the recap from Orlando (the collision between Howard and Bogut comes in 50 seconds into the video):

Howard, not Bogut left the game after that play, going to the bench with three first half fouls and looking on as Bogut racked up 16 points in the half. Apparently the knee (looks like the right knee) swelled up at halftime and when Bogut returned for the second half, he was ineffective, fouling Howard three times early in the 3rd quarter.

Through 16 games this season, including the Magic game, Bogut has averaged 11.4 points, 10.9 rebounds (4th in NBA), 1.9 assists and 1.0 blocked shot in 31.6 minutes per game. Going into Monday’s game, the only NBA player who had grabbed more rebounds than Bogut was the Magic’s Howard, widely regarded as the NBA’s top center. 

Hammond’s announcement means Bogut will miss the Bucks games Wednesday in Atlanta, Friday in Detroit and Saturday at home against the Cleveland Cavs and Lebron James and Mo Williams. Essentially, this waves the white flag on the rest of the Bucks schedule this week to close out November.

The Bucks November schedule has been brutal. By month’s end, they will have played more games than any team in the league, played seven back-to-back pairings and played 12 of their 19 games on the road. The last week of the month offered no relief: the Bucks went on the road for their toughest 4-game stretch of the season, against Orlando, Atlanta and Detroit before coming home to face the division-leading Cavs. The Bucks are in the middle of that trip now.

There was little chance Bogut could’ve played tonight in Atlanta, apparently. However, with a bruised knee bone, a player won’t do much damage playing on it, despite the pain. The initial swelling, however, can be ugly and a little scary (I’ll spare you the “my playing days” homily involving a chipped knee cap).

With Michael Redd dogging the same stretch of the difficult schedule with a high ankle sprain and starting point guard Luke Ridnour also banged up, throwing a hobbled Bogut in there against the Cavs and Pistons would be hubris. It’s also interesting that GM Hammond stepped in to make the announcement (he has not done this r.e. Redd) giving the order from the top to give Bogut the weekend off.

So the Bucks look ahead to December. 

Bogut and Redd are now likely to return Wed., Dec. 3, a home game against Chicago. That’ll be Day 8 of Bogut’s recovery. 

The Bucks have only two games next week – the Bulls game and against the Charlotte Bobcats Friday at the BC. It’s their first break of the season and first chance to regroup. The Bucks are a team that badly needs a chance to reboot. Practice time has been rare. Next week will give the Bucks a chance to practice with Redd and rework him into the lineup, a situation that wouldn’t be helped with a limping Bogut fresh off a weekend mauling by the Pistons and Cavs.

After the Charlotte game, the schedule gets tough again in the 2nd week of December as the Bucks hit the road to the west to face the Lakers, Suns and Nellie’s Golden State Warriors. 

Other than the western swing, the first three weeks of December is relatively light. Of the first ten games in December, beginning with Chicago and ending with the LA Clippers at hom Dec. 20 — seven are against teams that did not make the playoffs last season.

Let’s repeat that: Of the first ten games in December — beginning with Chicago and ending with the LA Clippers at home Dec. 20 — seven of the games are against teams that did not make the playoffs last season.  This looks almost good for a team that has been playing 2008 playoff teams for a month (Celtics and Cavs twice, the Raptors, Suns, Spurs, Jazz, Nuggets, Magic, Hawks and Pistons). That’s 12 of 19 Nov. games vs. playoff teams from last year, 13 counting the Wizards but let’s not.

Retreating now and looking ahead to next week could very well backfire. Redd and Bogut could return against Chicago and the Bucks could still fall short in front of their home crowd, which wouldn’t convince the fans to come back to the Bradley Center any time soon. Suddenly there is pressure on the Bucks and coach Scott Skiles. Pressure to win. Pressure to prove to the fans that this team can come together. Pressure to prove that the new “commitment to winning” under GM Hammond is more than lip service.

As grueling as the schedule has been — and as much as the “star” player, Michael Redd, has already set his own course by sitting out most of November — how the Bucks fare next week at the Bradley Center could go a long way toward deciding how the rest of the season plays out.

Is it do or die? I wouldn’t say that.

But John Hammond might.

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