Check out Frank's game recap here.
I'm staying with my "three" theme for now:
- Andrew Bogut. Calmed worries that arose from the Magic game.
- Charlie Villanueva. Making a case to start or showing he’s best suited coming off the bench?
- Charlie Bell. Heart looks as into the game as anyone else’s, and might even be having fun again after fourth quarter bank three-pointer.
- Free-throws attempted by the Bucks. The Bucks made five more field goals than the Bobcats (42-37) but barely got any points the easy (granted, not for the Bobcats) way.
- Number of minutes Bobby Simmons played. They weren’t terribly effective minutes either, but after his strong performance in the team’s first game you would have thought he’d get more of an opportunity.
- As in +9, which was Bell’s +/- score, leading the Bucks in that department for the second game in a row.
- The much-maligned frontcourt showed liveliness on both the offensive and defensive glass aside from a few short stretches of play. Andrew Bogut went up against rebounding machine Emeka Okafor and won the battle 17-14. He used excellent positioning and added strength to bring down more than a couple of them. One of Bogut’s shortcomings as a center has been his low block totals but he managed five in this game. If he can step up as a shot-blocker, combined with his penchant for drawing charges, he has the potential to produce quite a few additional offensive possessions during each game. Villanueva brought energy off the bench too, coming up just a fingertip short of pulling down the most important rebound of the game with a little more than seven seconds remaining in regulation. Dan Gadzuric also worked to protect the glass off the bench and Yi Jianlian continued to show resolve in the face of some physical play.
- Michael Redd again started hot. His aggressiveness early in both of the first two games has set the script for the rest of the team to pool together and close out the games. He might not be able to consistently carry a team on his back to a win throughout an entire game the way LeBron James or Kobe Bryant can. But he showed again why he is in the next level of stardom, giving his teammates a chance to play a couple good quarters of team basketball and come out on top. Unfortunately, the rest of the team has yet to play their part.
- The bench played pretty well. Villanueva played a strong enough game to stir up the starting power forward debate again. Contrasting Mo Williams’ six turnovers, backup point guards Bell and Ivey combined for just one turnover in more total minutes. Gadzuric did just fine too, even connecting on both of his shots from the field.
- Facing a similarly young, unproven, athletic team that likes to push the ball, you’d think the Bucks had found an even if not favorable matchup in the Bobcats. Yet they still managed to start lethargically. Their paltry 18 first quarter point didn’t come easily. The Bucks only got to the line twice and were outscored in the paint 18-10 in the period. Coach Larry Krystkowiak must devise a plan for quick starts because while the Bucks might have some firepower, no team succeeds in playing from behind. Does this mean the starting lineup should be tweaked? Krystkowiak has insisted that it doesn’t matter who starts, but Simmons made a good case to start against the Magic and Villanueva easily outplayed Yi against the Bobcats. Most would agree that Simmons and Villanueva are the better players, so it makes sense that at least one, if not both should start.
- Sure, Williams found his scoring touch with 20 points. But following his one-assist game with a four assist/six turnover performance is far from inspiring as the team’s starting point guard. Plus, his decision to drive to the basket for a layup down by three with mere seconds remaining was positively head-scratching.
- Last year the Bucks were a miserable 10-31 on the road. Losing to the upgraded and energized Magic in their home opener probably should have been expected, but the thorough manner in which they lost was disconcerting. And while the Bobcats are an improved club, they are the type of team that the Bucks must handle if they want to reach the playoffs. The Bobcats tried hard to give the game away too, making just 22-43 free-throws. The Bucks will need to take on a road warrior mentality to make the home games meaningful.