UPDATE: Jason Kidd (for some reason) has reinserted Michael Carter-Williams into the starting five and moved Giannis Antetokounmpo to the bench. I don't get it either, but that's how bad things have gotten for the Bucks. Similarly, Miles Plumlee will start in place of John Henson.
What a wonderful 24 hours in the land of Milwaukee Bucks basketball.
Surgery for Greivis Vasquez, a sore knee for Greg Monroe, a blowout loss to the toothless Lakers and -- just to put a nice bow on it -- reports today that players were partying on Monday night ahead of the Laker game. The details of the latter seem rather uneventful by NBA standards, but the optics flat-out stink for a team that's gone from Warrior-slaying peak to trough in roughly three days flat.
Either way, the Bucks don't have much time to reflect on their latest disappointments. They play at the Staples Center for the second time in 24 hours tonight, and this time it's against a Clipper team with five times as many wins as the Lakers had entering last night's game. Not that we need to remind the Bucks, who are exactly one week removed from losing to the Clips 109-95 in Milwaukee.
The Bucks' playoff ambitions were slim even before the current four-game Western trip began. After an ugly loss to one of the league's worst teams? They're almost not even worth discussing.
But life goes on for the young Bucks regardless, and with Vasquez out for the foreseeable future, Jerryd Bayless not on the current road trip and Monroe sidelined at least one more game, the Bucks have no choice but to rely heavily on their remaining young players to figure out a way to compete consistently. Missing Vasquez and Bayless is unfortunately nothing new at this point; we've been seeing the Bucks scrape by with O.J. Mayo starting at point guard and Michael Carter-Williams backing him up for the better part of two weeks, with the two frequently playing together late in games.
However, missing Monroe is a very different story. While much is made of Monroe's defensive shortcomings, the Bucks have been only marginally better defensively with John Henson on the court, with the latter also coming with a hugely negative impact on the offensive end. Missing Monroe's presence on the defensive boards also likely had something to do with the Lakers' 18 offensive rebounds last night (41% OReb%), marking the first time in 12 games that an opponent rebounded better than 30% of their own misses.
Clippers Scouting Report
The Clippers remain as loaded with stars as the city that they play in: Blake Griffin is enjoying a career year, Chris Paul is still an elite point guard, and DeAndre Jordan remains one of the game's most physically dominant big men. But the Clippers' supporting cast remains as problematic as ever, with J.J. Redick -- he of the 31 points in Milwaukee last Wednesday -- the only complementary player providing real contributions.
So what's up with the good team in L.A. not quite living up to expectations? Roscoe Whalan of ClipperBlog provided us some good insight last week:
If you look at a team like the Golden State Warriors, it's one with identity: they're long, athletic, defensive and shoot threes. Who and what are the Clippers? The individual parts are impressive but the sum of them has never coalesced beyond highlight plays, technical fouls and a perceived sense of entitlement around the league. Now, Doc the GM has apparently fired up the Trade Machine to see what he can fetch for Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith -- willing to sell assets he's accrued for 50 cents on the dollar. And herein lies the rub: is Doc Rivers a bad judge of talent or a bad integrator of it? Without fail over the past few seasons, GM Rivers has chased free agents that have had good seasons (or are past their prime) and almost without fail they haven't been able to recreate their form (Exhibits A, B and C: Antawn Jamison, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Spencer Hawes and now Stephenson and Smith, to name a few). Doc repeatedly says he doesn't worry about fit because talent will make it work but obviously, things haven't played out exactly as he suggests. Surely, one of Stephenson or Smith should be able to find a some consistency on this team? But I digress...
Beyond transgressions in personnel and how we got here, the roulette of starters at the small forward doesn't help anyone. LRMAM has got the start over the past four games (personally, I'd like to see Wes Johnson start) but in the process guys like Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson are getting their minutes and role meddled with on an almost nightly basis. When you have guys that are volatile from the beginning I'd think that giving them consistency and a clear understanding of their role on a nightly basis would go a long way in creating continuity. The trouble is there are a lot of guys that need the ball in their hands and not a great deal of quality catch-and-shoot options off the bench, which can make the court seem a lot smaller than it really is.
Tweets to Consider
Greg Monroe's MRI today revealed a Grade 1 left knee MCL sprain. He's out tonight and is not expected to be out that long.— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) December 16, 2015
Sitting in the corner + Going home at 2 am = these dudes party like a bunch of guys from Milwaukee. https://t.co/DWz8jJB4uf— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) December 16, 2015
|2015/16 NBA Season|
|December 16, 2015|
|Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA|
|Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Chris Paul|
|O.J. Mayo||SG||J.J. Redick|
|Khris Middleton||SF||Luc Mbah a Moute|
|Jabari Parker||PF||Blake Griffin|
|Miles Plumlee||C||DeAndre Jordan|
|2014/15 Advanced Stats|
|93.3 (29th)||Pace||96.7 (12th)|
|101.5 (25th)||ORtg||105.6 (9th)|
|108.1 (28th)||DRtg||103.8 (14th)|