Wednesday Notes: Bucks' schedule released, USA tops Australia

Team USA take Australia down, under some pressure.

  • The Bucks released its 2008-09 regular season schedule today. They open on October 28 on the road against the Bulls, coach Scott Skiles' former team. The second game of the season is listed as at Seattle, but let's hope the Bucks don't make that trip. That's the home opener for Oklahoma City. (Update: the schedule is now updated/correct) The Bucks' home opener is Saturday, November 1 against the Raptors, who notably dealt former Buck T.J. Ford for Jermaine O'Neal.
  • Getting off to a fast start won't be easy: the Bucks play 10 of 17 in November on the road, and 13 of 17 November opponents made the playoffs last season. They play the Celtics twice, and have road contests against the Pistons, Jazz, Cavaliers, and Magic. The Spurs and Suns are a couple teams that will visit Milwaukee. However, the schedule softens some at the end, as they finish the year with 13 of 21 at the Bradley Center, so they'll need to remain in contention through February. 
  • Fortunately, the Bucks travel to Boston only once with two more games in Milwaukee.  Other East teams the Bucks face only thrice: Philadelphia (one home), Miami (one home), and Washington (two home, sorry Gilbert).  Aside from those 12 games, the Bucks play four times against the remaining ten Eastern Conference teams (40 total), and twice against each of the Western teams (30 total).
  • Charles Gardner offers Bucks' schedule observations. Here's just one: the Bucks have one nationally televised game: February 27 against the Hornets. 
  • ESPN.com's Marc Stein unveils schedule highlights from around the league. Along with mentioning the Bucks will be the first team to visit Oklahoma City this season, the Bucks/Nets game on February 3 is highlighted as RJ's homecoming.
  • Jim Paschke offers more insight into the schedule, too.
    Due to NBA team re-location and league realignment in recent years, 7 of the 15 teams in the Western Conference are currently in the Central Time Zone. The Bucks will play just 5 of 82 games in the Pacific Time Zone, which is an advantage for our television viewers.
  • Team USA completed its pre-Olympic schedule a spotless 5-0 with an 87-76 (recap/quotes) win over Australia on Monday morning in Shanghai. Despite playing without top player Andrew Bogut, the Aussies hung tough and even outscored Team USA in the second half, ignited by St. Mary's point guard Patrick Mills, who netted 13 points in 21 minutes off the bench. Dwyane Wade continued his stellar play, leading Team USA with 22 points. The Americans shot an ice-cold 3-18 on three-pointers, with Michael Redd contributing an 0-3 effort from outside. Playing the percentages, it's only a good thing to get a bad shooting night out of the way in a tuneup game, but the narrow victory showed Team USA's fragility nonetheless. They begin their road to gold on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. against China on NBC.
  • Kelly Dwyer looks Behind the box score at Team USA/Australia.

    This team (and I'm looking at you, Carmelo) just turns its head too much. These guys aren't used to watching for back-picks and defending cuts to the front of the hoop. Back-door screens still kill Team USA, and though the men still have the athleticism to recover and sometimes make up for it, Coach K's crew is still getting beat way too much by teams using Team USA's pressure against itself.

  • Chris Sheridan also finds problems with Team USA.

    Remember last summer when Mexico scored 100 against Team USA in the Tournament of the Americas and the players shrugged it off as nothing? Well, it wasn't nothing. It was a sign that too often they are beaten for open looks, and they should have taken it as a warning sign.

  • Randy Hill of FoxSports.com takes a closer look at Team USA's offense and defense.
  • Charles Gardner reports Andrew Bogut expects to play in Australia's Olympic opener against Croatia on Sunday.
  • The Bob Boozer Jinx adds that Bogut is available to play in Australia's opener against Croatia according to coach Brian Goorjian. J.D. Mo also wonders how Team USA would've fared with Bogut on the court.
  • Dime reflects on USA/Australia.
  • Dime also poses the question: who is the best player on Team USA? There is some debate in the comments about the difference between the most valuable player to the team as its comprised versus best player overall. Going forward, I vote LeBron James to hold both titles.
  • NBA.com's John Schuhmann writes Michael Redd helps Team USA shoot for success off the bench.
  • Check out NBA.com's photo gallery from a recent Team USA visit to Shanghai Children's Medical Center.
  • Hardwood Paroxysm notes that one-time Buck and permanently 5'5" Earl Boykins signed with Virtus Bologna in Italy for $3.5 million, making him the highest-paid (basketball) player in the country.
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