The excuses have officially expired. The Spalding company in conjunction with the NBA announced today that the Milwaukee Bucks “most grueling schedule in the league” excuse has been used once too many times. I used my last Spalding Nightmare Schedule card early Thursday morning, and fans on a number of forums used the last of the cards during the day Thursday and on Friday morning.
Friday afternoon in the “comments” section of Journal Sentinel’s Bucksblog, an anonymous blogger played the tough schudule excuse without a Nightmare Schedule card, prompting a crash of the JSOnline server. Spalding has refused to print more cards and issued the following statement in a press release:
“The Bucks have weathered eight back-to-backs, 15 road games, 15 games against 2008 playoff teams, including the Celtics and Cavaliers twice, the Lakers and the Magic. Only the Trailblazers have played more games. We recognize all of this, but the scheduling nightmare was never more than a temporary excuse. In the interest of better Bucks basketball and Bucks fans everywhere, we, the makers of the NBA basketball in partnership with the NBA, came to a decision that the Bucks can no longer properly serve their community of fans as ‘an excuse team.’
“If the Bucks cannot contend with their subsequent schedule and continue to lose games, the team will have no recourse but to look at its roster and make some tough decisions.”
Well, that’s that then. The makers of THE ONE BALL, the holy pill, the rock of ages, have spoken. ….
Beginning with the Indiana game Saturday at the Bradley Center (gametime 7:30PM) the Bucks play five games in eight days — four games against teams that did not make the playoffs last year (Indiana, Miami, New York and the Clippers). The one team in this stretch that did make the playoffs, the Sixers, have been struggling. The Bucks have been off two days leading up to the Indiana game and have a day off before their games in Miami, Philly and NY.
The Bucks are relatively healthy now — reserve guard Charlie Bell and big forward Malik Allen are out but if the Bucks can’t win without those two role players, they’re paying the wrong guys. The rest of the rotation is in good shape. This stretch of five games against teams in the Bucks’ zip code — somewhere in NBA mediocrity-land — should be a good indicator of whether or not the Bucks’ playoff hopes are anything more than a leather-meets-glue fantasy sniffed at the Spalding basketball factory.
50 ways to move Michael Redd: If you haven’t had a chance yet, now’s a good time to check out Sportsbubbler’s Bucks fan forum. Bucks fan Sidney Lanier — in the interest of basketball-kind throughout the Bucks-o-sphere — has begun a Michael Redd trade-of-the-day feature on the SB message board. Why? (Cue Paul Simon) Because there must be .. 50 ways to trade a player …
Trade #1 naturally featured the Toronto Raptors, who appear to be in the market for something different at the 2-3 spots after falling flat to open the season — despite the big trade of T.J. Ford for center Jermaine O’Neal in the offseason. Bucks would get sharpshooter Anthony Parker in the deal. Trade # 4 is my favorite so far (see above image). Thanks go to Sidney for digging that up on photobucket.
Skiles: More touches for Bogut is up to Bogut. Bucks writer Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times talked to Bucks coach Scott Skiles and center Andrew Bogut about a thing that’s been on the minds of a lot of Bucks fans since Bogut shot 7-9 from the floor against Shaq and the Suns — only to see five of his teammates take more shots. Bogut had ZERO assists in that game, so … It’s not as though Bogut was passing the ball out of the post — he just wasn’t getting the ball, period. Both point guards, Luke Ridnour and Ramon Sessions, are averaging more shots per game than Bogut, as are Redd, Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva.
The Bucks right now are in a spot where they don’t have good outside shooters (Ridnour being the worst of the crew). Shots from Bogut are much higher percentage, yet the perimeter players keep putting up jumpshots at a low percentage. Woelfel pointed all of this out in his column and asked Skiles whether the Bucks ought to get the ball inside to Bogut more.
Skiles’ response might as well have been “No soup for ‘Drew!”
“When you’re 7-feet-tall in the NBA game and not being productive, a huge, huge, huge percentage of the time it is your problem because you can always go to the board and get an offensive board and put it back in. You’re always getting your touches … you can always run the floor. When you’re a big man in a big man’s game, you control your destiny and how you play.”
Bogut does need to tighten his game up — he plays loose sometimes, doesn’t always seal opposing centers in the post and can even be accused of taking plays off. But does that mean little guards who can’t shoot get to keep shooting? It would seem so on a Scott Skiles team.
The current Bucks, however, are not Skiles’ Baby Bulls, who cranked it up quite a lot from the outside. Neither Lucky Luke or Crazy Luke Ridnour are going to turn into Kirk Hinrich; Michael Redd isn’t going to shoot like Ben Gordon (Gordon’s been a consistently better shooter than Redd for a few years); and Richard Jefferson has never in his career shot well from the outside. Skiles’ current perimeter players are not as good as they think they are nor as good as Skiles apparently thinks they are.
But don’t tell Skiles that. He doesn’t want to hear it.
Who guards Dwyane Wade for Bucks?: After a wild 121-103 win against the Indiana Pacers Saturday night — 20 pts, 20 rebs for Andrew Bogut; 27 pts for Michael Redd, with the Bucks outscoring the Pacers 19-0 in the final five minutes — the 10-15 Bucks traveled to Miami to begin a three game East road trip vs. D-Wade and the Miami Heat (12-11). The Heat have played a much less grueling schedule than the Bucks and have yet to play any of the top four teams in the East: the Cavs, Celtics, Pistons or Magic yet. (No, that was not an attempt to use the schedule excuse – I’m only comparing schedules, here). Still, the Heat won 3 of 5 on a recent West Coast road trip, showing that they could be headed toward a winning season and a playoff berth.
Coach Skiles burned 42 mins of playing time out of Redd Saturday and only played Ramon Sessions and Charlie Bell 17 and 16 mins respectively. Sessions and Bell will be needed against D-Wade, the implication being that giving the job to defensively-challenged Redd would be a disaster.
Marquette’s finest is averaging 28.6 pts, 7.2 asts, 5.1 rebs, 2.2 steals and 1.6 blocks. Yes, D-Wade does all that in ONE GAME. Brewhoop has more in its preview.
Wade will likely be guarding Redd on the other end, so what Skiles should do is set up Redd in the low post. This would force Wade off the perimeter and into the paint, where Redd has a nice advantage. He’s bigger than Wade, sneaky good around the basket and a very good post-up player. And wouldn’t it be nice to force opponents to play the Bucks way? Advice is free coach.