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Bucks/Pacers: Behind the 8-ball

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2010/2011 NBA Season

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vs.
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30-44 (11-25 road) 34-42 (21-16 home)
April 1, 2011
Conseco Fieldhouse
6:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FS Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG
Darren Collison
John Salmons
SG Paul George
Carlos Delfino SF Danny Granger
Luc Mbah a Moute
PF Tyler Hansbrough
Andrew Bogut
C Roy Hibbert

(29th) 101.6 - OFFENSE -  104.6 (23rd)
(4th) 102.8 - DEFENSE - 105.9 (12th)
(26th) 89.7  - PACE -  94.6 (6th)

On the Pacers: Indy CornrowsEight Points Nine Seconds / Indy Star

Update: Andrew Bogut will start despite flu-like symptoms that sent him to the hospital earlier in the day.

If you circled this game on your calendar five months ago, that was the best April Fool's Day joke.

As it turns out though, this is it, for the postseason. If the Bucks lose, they are in essence out (they would be four back with seven to play). If the Bucks win, they still have a very rough road to the playoffs (they would still trail both Indiana and Charlotte), but you would be hard-pressed to turn all the way away.

Season series. The Bucks moved to 2-4 when they beat the Pacers 94-90 in Indianapolis on Nov. 5. John Salmons stepped up, Andrew Bogut didn't play, and it was the team's first road win of the season. That game was not televised locally. A little more than a month later, Andrew Bogut tipped the Pacers at the buzzer. That game was also not televised locally, but it did occur. I was there, the last-second play happened all of a sudden, and it was not an easy thing to believe really happened then or now: The Bucks executed a play out of a timeout, against a team they should beat, in the clutch. Say that one time slowly. Then the Bucks were back in classic form by the next time they played the Pacers. They did not score for the final for a span of 5:55 in the fourth quarter and lost 103-97 at the BC. That game, of course, was on television.

Seventeen. The Pacers have won the exact same number of games under Frank Vogel (17) as they won under Jim O'Brien (17) this season... but in 12 fewer games. After axing O'Brien following a 17-27 start, Indiana has gone 17-15 under Vogel.

Indiana has won four of six. They most recently beat the Pistons 111-101 at home on Wednesday. Prior to that, they beat Boston at home 107-100. The Pacers did fall to the East-wrecking Kings at home 110-93 a week ago. But before that game they beat down the Bobcats 111-88 in Charlotte.

Tyler the Creator. In the first time he averaged 30+ minutes in a month, Tyler Hansbrough just averaged 16.8 points and 7.1 rebounds on 49.8 % shooting in March.

Similar difference. The Pacers have been outscored by 104 points overall this season (7565-7659). The Bucks have been outscored by 81 points overall this season (6780-6861). Fortunately, one team is required to score more points than the other tonight. In any event, point differential is a pretty telling stat, so the fact that the Bucks have a better differential than the Pacers yet remain three games back is yet another reason to think luck has not been on Milwaukee's side this year. But in light of a couple more soul-crushing losses over the past week, the Bucks have walked a fine line between late-game unluckiness and late-game ridiculousness. Little of both. Lot of both?

0ffense. Although they do not have the distinction/excuse of having just lost the best basketball player in the world this past offseason (apologies, Charlie Bell), the Bucks are presently ahead of the Cavaliers (and no one else) in offensive efficiency. Probably not the stuff banner-hanging is made of, but if you are looking for a reason to celebrate on a Friday night...

On Maggette. Charles Gardner writes about Corey Maggette's recent playing time, or lack thereof.

"From going from a starter-caliber guy and averaging 20 points for the last nine or 10 years, and having DNPs, that's the hardest part."

"From going from a starter-caliber guy and averaging 20 points for the last nine or 10 years, and having DNPs, that's the hardest part."

"But also, I thank Scott. He's just adding more years on my career and giving me more rest time. I just want to be in position to help the guys, Michael Redd and Drew Gooden and the other guys as well."

"When you look at this whole team, Scott still may have uncertainties about the new guys and trying to figure out the system. I give him the benefit of the doubt on those issues."

That an historically bad NBA offense would voluntarily opt not to play someone with such a long, consistent history of success as an offensive player is counterintuitive on the surface, and maybe just counterintuitive. In a season with such a rotating cast of players, the only constant has been disappointment. It's almost as if you are always looking forward to the players who are not playing... but just because they are not playing. Often, once someone has gotten back on the floor, we remember how much we don't want that player on the floor (although Drew Gooden is off to a nice little re-start). This conundrum was the essence of Jeremy Schmidt's article on Chris Douglas-Roberts earlier this month, and the same thing might be happening with Maggette. The obvious difference is that Maggette has an extended, demonstrated history of individual (though, not team) success on this level.

In any event, between Brockman's trick-shot video and now Maggette's response that he is grateful to Skiles for prolonging his career by benching him, at least the Bucks are making a late-season push at proving they possess a flare for comedy if not basketball.