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Bucks Fall To Magic

The Magic defeated the Bucks 102-83 in the opener for both teams.  See the box score, admittedly not easy on the eyes, here.

In hopes of some Milwaukee magic in the future, the theme is three for tonight:

Three Bucks:

  1. Bobby Simmons. Encouraging showing coming off injury.
  1. Michael Redd. Still the only star on this team.
  1. Charlie Bell. Provided a little spark and had top +/- on team at +4.

Three Numbers:

  1. Three-pointers the Magic made in the third quarter.  They scored 35 points in total and their 21 points off three-pointers alone bettered the 16 the Bucks scored.
  1. Mo Williams’ assists.  He didn’t turn the ball over in 33 minutes, but this performance certainly won’t quiet the critiques of his distribution skills.
  1. Simmons’ points.  Other than Redd, the only Buck to score in double figures, and he did it efficiently, on 11 shots in 24 minutes.

Three Good:

  1. Redd wasted no time showing why he is one of the most dynamic shooters and scorers in the basketball world.  Better yet, Simmons came off the bench and scored nine points quickly in the second quarter.  Some preferred that Simmons start over Desmond Mason but having a sharpshooter come off the bench while Redd rests might be a good formula.
  1. Yi, in the face of tremendous pressure, didn’t appear too fazed playing in his first meaningful NBA game.  Aside from struggling from the free-throw line (1-4) and picking up fouls (6), he looked just fine.  He played within himself offensively (4-5 from the field) and showed a lot of energy on the defensive side, even when overmatched.  
  1. The Bucks doubled up the Magic (18-9) on the offensive glass, and it’s a good thing because they missed 62 % of their shots.

Three Not-So-Good:

  1. A lot of optimistic offseason chatter focused on the help that Redd would get on the offensive end this year.  After relying on their single star too often last year, the Bucks projected to have a more balanced attack this year with a healthy team and more depth.  Redd opened the first quarter on fire, attacking newly promoted starting shooting guard Keith Bogans, and scoring 12 of the team’s first 16 points.  And the Bucks stayed competitive thanks to his hot hand.  Yet when he cooled off after the first quarter, no one player ever stepped up sufficiently, and worse yet, team play barely was attempted to make up the difference.  Instead they relied on predictable if not scattered offensive sets that netted them just 83 points.  Maybe Redd’s offensive worries were for good reason after all.  
  1. The pregame notes pointed out that Hedo Turkoglu was a Buck-killer last year, but apparently that information didn’t make it into the scouting report.  No matter who matched up against the versatile Turk there was a hesitancy to commit to guarding his outside shot or the drive to the basket.  What resulted was an awkward in-between defense that didn’t really guard either.  With Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis pretty good bets to combine for at least forty points (they got forty) the Bucks needed to limit the Magic’s number three option, but didn’t come close.  Let’s hope next time these teams match up the Bucks have a better plan.
  1. Thanks to inconsistent showings by both Yi and Charlie Villanueva throughout the preseason, it was difficult to tell whether the Bucks were entering the new season with two starting-caliber power forward or none.  By the looks of this game, the latter answer looks a lot more realistic.  It wasn’t for lack of effort, but neither power forward looked anything like starting material on a club with playoff aspirations.  Familiar problems plagued them too.  Villanueva had a terrible shooting night (1-8) and Yi fouled out in just 25 minutes.  The frontcourt overall left a lot to be desired with Andrew Bogut’s small offensive contribution (4 points).  No one really thought he would transform into a number one pick like Tim Duncan, but resembling a number one pick like Joe Smith isn't what Bucks fans had in mind either.