Cleveland Cavaliers (14-5) vs. the Bucks (9-9), 2pm @ Bradley Center, FSW.
They don’t give you much of a road shoulder in the NBA, and you’d think some of our Bucks would get tired of learning this lesson. After a fast and promising start, the Bucks-mobile has once again veered off the road and into the ditch. Andrew Bogut and Charlie Bell occupy two of the front seats on this ride, and they’ve been here many times before.
It’s not the losing that matters so much as the way they’re losing. They look terrible and have been awfully uninspired about it.
For me last night, this was highlighted by the Cavs-Bulls broadcast airing simultaneous to the Bucks stinker in Detroit. Watching good NBA basketball and bad NBA basketball side by side tends to make a barstool rather uncomfortable — no matter how great the hospitality at the Y-Not 3, where NBA junkies can actually get a double shot of the pro grame.
Unfortunately, the Bucks weren’t that interested in being a pro team Friday. Not even I could take anymore. I exited (stage left) at halftime, good timing because the Lebrons in the 3rd quarter turned their game into a laugher.
So the Bucks have lost six out of seven. Again, it’s not the losing. There’s no shame in losing great, competitive basketball games to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs or Dwight Howard and the Magic. This season is about developing Brandon Jennings, and about the Bucks being young, playing D, fighting for the loose change and keeping the rock moving. Those four things. Right now, the Bucks are not playing Scott Skiles defense, which tends to make the other three irrelevant.
In fact, since Scott Skiles became coach, the Bucks have seldom looked this bad when Andrew Bogut has been playing. There were a few games last December (the hapless road trip west, the Pistons game at the BC when Skiles benched his starters, a sloppy win against a depleted Jazz team at the BC) but on the whole, the Bucks have made good progress, and so has Bogut. Not so lately.
Skiles may be the point: I don’t know if there is a team in the NBA that needs its coach as much as the young Bucks need Skiles on the sidelines. Skiles, serving a one-game suspension for the tirade he threw at the refs Wednesday in Washington, DC, was nowhere to be found Friday in Detroit. The Bucks missed him.
Bogut needs to pick it up: After a strong comeback game against Chicago, the Bucks center has not played well and has been helpless to stop the Bucks from sliding into the proverbial ditch. Wednesday in DC Bogut was outplayed by Wizards 7-footer Brendan Haywood. In Detroit, he was no match for strength of 35-year-old Ben Wallace, who’s enjoying a career revival in the Detroit. Watching Big Ben Friday, it was all too clear how and why the Pistons were able to build a championship team around him. The man is a fortress in the paint.
It doesn’t get any easier for Bogues this weekend. Cavs big men Shaquille O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Andy Varejao are in town for an afternoon game Sunday. This is a gut check game for Bogut, who was outplayed by Shaq twice last season when the Diesel was a Sun.
Bogut played once against the Cavs and Ilgauskas last season (Nov. 11 in Cleveland) and had a disappointing, foul-plagued game, just 5 pts and 7 boards in 20 mins.
Last time to see Shaq in Milwaukee? Tickets are still available for the Cavs game on Sunday. This may or may not be Shaq’s last NBA season, but he’s not getting any younger. He’ll be 38 this March. The Cavs play in Milwaukee once more this season, March 6th, a Saturday night game. But Shaq is a part-time player these days — no telling whether he’ll play the next time the Cavs and Bucks meet. Shaq will play tomorrow, so if I were you (or me) I’d get to the Bucks.com and grab a ticket or two while they last. This could be the last Brewtown appearance for the Diesel, and it’s definitely one of the last times Bucks fans will have a chance to see the future Hall of Famer play here.
In honor of Allen Iverson: As expected, the Answer returned to his beloved Philly this week and will make his entrance for the Philly fans Monday against none other than George and Carmelo and the Denver Nuggets. That should be fun. Karl hasn’t had much good to say about the Answer since trading him to Detroit for Chauncey Billups last year but that says more about Karl than Iverson — shades of all the negative things Karl said about Ray Allen after trading him.
Sam I Am says: “Just George being George.”
I like this move by the Sixers for a lot of reasons, none moreso than it gives me a reason to loath the Sixers once again. There just isn’t much to dislike on the current Sixers — they play hard, they fly up and down the court, and they’ve made a habit in recent years of making our Redd-ite Bucks look slow and unathletic (six straight losses to Philly). That’s not the Sixers fault, nor is it the fault of Bucks fans, John Hammond.
The events depicted in the video embedded below, however, ARE the Sixers fault. Specifically, Allen Iverson and Eric Snow’s fault. And coach Larry Brown’s. And Tyrone Hill’s and Dikembe Mutombo’s. And referee Tim Donaghy‘s. Yes, one of the refs for the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals was Donaghy, who went to prison for betting on games. Sunday on “60 Minutes” Donaghy claimed he never fixed a game or a series but that doesn’t mean anyone who watched the Bucks-Sixers travesty in 2001 believes him.
Welcome back to Philly, AI. Take it away Jim Rome. …