Bucks 103 Heat 98: Recap

The Bucks warmed up in Miami, knocking off the tough-luck Heat 103-98. Thanks to a team effort, they won their third road game of the year, starting off 2008 much better than they finished 2007.

Three Bucks:

  1. Mo Williams. He quietly played a very strong all-around game. Remember when we asked you to vote for the team's second best offensive option? Williams only got 25 % of the vote. It's safe to say that number would go up dramatically now.
  1. Andrew Bogut. Bogut started strongly and protected the glass. He even hit a pair of important free throws in the fourth quarter.
  1. Bobby Simmons. Welcome back, Bobby. We hope to see you on this list again really soon.

Three Numbers:

  1. Bucks' offensive rebounds, including seven from Bell and Simmons combined. Seriously.
  1. Combined rebounds by Bogut, Yi, and Simmons, twice as many as Blount, Haslem, and Davis combined.
  1. Bell's field goals, matching his season-high.

Three Good:

  1. The Bucks went five deep off the bench early. Bell, Villanueva, Ivey, Ruffin, and Voskuhl combined to score 22 points on 15 shots in the first half in a total of 40 minutes. Against the Pistons, the bench scored 22 points on 24 shots in 96 minutes overall. Villanueva led the charge with 11 points in 10 minutes, leading all scorers in the first half. To close the first quarter, Villanueva, Bell, and Ivey each hit three-pointers. The Bucks spread the ball around a lot early. In what is likely a record this season, seven Bucks scored before Redd.
  1. As noted, the Bucks received contributions from many important, but previously inconsistent players, such as Villanueva, Bell, and even Voskuhl. Bell's long overdue strong offensive performance was particularly refreshing. Still, the most encouraging performance of all may have been Simmons'. As has been the case since his insertion into the starting lineup, he didn't play typical starter minutes, with 18. He made the most of them though, especially in a dynamite third quarter. The highlight was when he grabbed a key offensive rebound, dribbled out beyond the arc, and hit nothing but net.
  1. Is there anything further from the Shaquille O’Neal/Alonzo Mourning post tandem of a couple years ago than Mark Blount? We might be looking at a complete opposite here. If Kobe Bryant was unsatisfied with Andrew Bynum until recently, how do you think Wade feels about playing with a starting center, who, after this game, has blocked one shot this year... In 223 minutes. And he's shooting 35.8 %, at 7'0". After being pushed around by the Pistons, the Bucks challenged the relatively soft Heat frontcourt early. Bogut hit a short lefty hook on the first possession, but we’ve all seen that before. The Bucks often get him a touch right away and then neglect to deliver him the ball in scoring position for a while. Tonight, Bogut abused Blount early and often, blocking his shot and scoring six points, including two dunks, in the first four minutes of the game. Although he was quiet offensively after that, he helped provide some much-needed swagger early in the game.

Three Not-So-Good:

  1. Perhaps you can't blame the Bucks for forgetting how to close a game with a lead. After all, they haven't had practice in that area lately. Still, there was entirely too much drama after leading 95-81 with under three minutes to play. The Bucks even benefitted from some fortunate breaks down the stretch, including a missed layup by Cook and a bad pass by Villanueva after which the Bucks retained possession.
  1. The Heat are completely decimated by injuries with O’Neal, Mourning, Williams, Wright, and Parker among the key missing players. A few minutes into the third quarter, the Bucks were up 58-55. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. However, the problem is immediately obvious upon realizing that the Heat, the East’s worst team and a dismal 4-10 at home, were within one possession behind leading scorers Davis, Quinn, and Blount. Getting beaten, rather destroyed, by Billups, Hamilton, and Prince is one thing. Failing to pull away from Davis, Quinn, and Blount is quite another. Plus, building more of a cushion before Wade inevitably found his form would have been a lot more comforting.
  1. The Bucks had some lapses in concentration and good judgment, resulting in 20 turnovers. Eight different Bucks had at least two turnovers in the game. Most of the problems came in the first and fourth quarters, but the Bucks played well enough in the middle of the game to hang on.
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