Back in November, Bucks' play-by-play man (and fellow blogger) Jim Paschke was kind enough to answer some of Brew Hoop's questions, and this week he again took time out of his busy schedule to share his perspective on the Bucks so far this season. Check it out below, and for additional reading we recommend Jim's interview with Hornets.com last week and a feature Jim wrote about his broadcasting experiences for NBA.com. Thanks Jim!
BH: Since the 45-point loss in Detroit and the blowout at home to Washington, the Bucks responded with arguably their best basketball of the season (after many were ready to write them off). How did the team manage to bounce back? What do they need to do to make a run at a playoff spot?
JP: This team is still going through some ups and downs as it tries to find consistency. They have played well at times, fallen off in third quarters, and put together some solid runs. I think the move to go to Andrew Bogut in the post in Michael Redd’s absence has added an obvious offensive weapon. Now, the Bucks have to figure out how to move and create a second option when Andrew is double-teamed. They’ll figure it out.
As for the playoffs, Larry Krystkowiak has challenged the Bucks to win a road game for every home game they lose the rest of the way. If they can pull that off, they will finish near 40 victories and may have a shot at a playoff spot.
BH: The coaching staff has made Bogut's involvement a point of emphasis lately, and he's responding with the best basketball of his career. Are we seeing Andrew develop into the team's de facto leader, or is this still Michael Redd's team? Something in between?
JP: I look at it more as adding offensive weapons and balance. It is taking some adjustment to move from a Michael Redd dominant offense to an inside-outside offense. I believe it will come. I don’t think it’s about being someone’s team, as much as it about presenting the defense with more decisions to make. If Michael Redd, as great as he is, is your second or even third option at any given time, the defense will struggle to react to that. Now we often see Michael waiting in the corner for an open shot. That can only be a good thing as opposed to him being the double-team focus of a defense.
BH: In that same vein, Bogut's recent play and the team's performance in Redd's absence have prompted many fans to speculate about the ability of Mo, Redd and Bogut to co-exist in the long term. How do the Bucks get the best out of all three?
JP: I happen to think that they are very complementary players in that regard. I just think the entire team has to settle into the inside-outside approach. Even as the NBA has moved to a more international style of play, Pat Riley has built his teams around a strong inside presence to set up the shooters. It still seems like a sound approach to me. I just think few teams have that option so most players haven’t learned that style. You have to play that way long enough to trust that it works. It takes some time.
BH: Charlie Bell and Bobby Simmons have also been major factors in the Bucks' improved play of late. Are they doing anything differently, or was it just a matter of time before they broke out of their slumps?
JP: Recent injuries to Michael Redd and Mo Williams have created opportunity and perhaps more importantly a need for offense. Bobby and Charlie have gotten more touches and have taken advantage of the chance. I still think, at full strength, it’s difficult for everyone to get equal opportunity on this team. I felt in August that the strength of this team was its depth, assuming that everyone could handle reduced roles at times.
BH: There's been speculation that Larry Harris' contract uncertainty might indicate the Bucks' hesitancy about making major moves before the trade deadline. Do you see the Bucks looking to deal, or will they most likely wait until the off-season to re-evaluate the roster?
JP: I think Larry Harris continues to do his due diligence on possible trades regardless of his situation. I think the process for evaluating potential deals, and needs of the team is still in place. If a deal makes sense, I’m sure it will get the same scrutiny now as it would at any other time. Other teams try to "steal" players from teams that appear to be struggling. It is better to deal from a position of strength rather than one of perceived weakness.
BH: Defensive issues have dogged the Bucks for years, and this year has been no different. What's your take on the Bucks' never-ending quest to become a better defensive team?
JP: That’s a tough one for me to answer. Coaches try to make poor defenders average defenders and average defenders better defenders etc. I do believe the rule changes have made defense much more difficult to play well, and perhaps players just get frustrated by that and they become leery of drawing fouls all night. Those rule changes have opened up the game, and increased scoring, but if minutes are a coach’s only "hammer" they also determine a player’s livelihood to a great degree.
BH: Truman Reed recently wrote on Bucks.com about the team going bowling and playing pool together after the Charlotte game. How would you compare the social dynamic of this team to past Bucks teams? Has the social side of NBA teams changed drastically since you first started covering the Bucks 20 years ago?
JP: I think this team has always gotten along very well. They enjoy each other, and occasionally get together outside the office. I haven’t seen a great deal of change in team events over the years. George Karl tried to have "group" activities, even if it were simply practicing at an historical gym, just something everyone could "get into" and talk about. There really isn’t a lot of time for social events, but teams have had dinners and other group outings over the years.
BH: What determines whether FSN broadcasts a game in HD or not?
JP: FSN is committed to increasing the number of HD telecasts as we move closer to 2009 when all broadcasts will be required to be high definition. FSN has increased the number of HD games to 25 this season, which is a significant increase. The cost associated with HD telecasts requires a ramping up process as we approach total compliance.
BH: How would you rate Scott Williams' recent performance as color commentator? Does it take much of an adjustment to work with a new broadcast partner when you've worked with Jon for so long?
JP: I think Scott has done a very good job. Every person does the job a little differently and from a slightly different perspective. I think Scott has added a great deal to our telecasts. Game analysis seems as effortless for him as it is for Jon. Both guys really enjoy themselves and that makes it easy for me. I have had no trouble at all adjusting to Scott. I try to make it as easy for my partner as I can, so it’s just a matter of reacting to them. This has never been rocket science. We just have fun, enjoy the game, and approach it as professionally as possible. You can’t live on a steady diet of fastballs. Changeups keep things interesting.