Why must the Bucks bother me so? All I ask for is a period of sustained winning of no more than medium-length. Is that really too much to ask for?
Watch the Milwaukee Bucks long enough and you'll find out that yes, a six to seven game winning streak is too much to ask of this on-again, off-again franchise. After having climbed five games above .500, the Bucks struggled through three embarrassing losses to the New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls (hence the ugh), and the Houston Rockets last week. Each defeat was bothersome in their own regard, and collectively they featured many of the fatal deficiencies the team has been saddled with since the season kicked off.
The losing would be tolerable if it was the accepted norm, but we've seen glimpses of a potent basketball team emerge when they rattle off a string of wins. Things seemed set to finally turn the corner for Milwaukee last Monday; instead, the team fell back into a losing morass, and we're all stuck here wallowing in it with them.
Free From the Suns and the Salon, Eric Bledsoe Is Thriving (Sports Illustrated)
I've loved the Eric Bledsoe addition for a number of reasons. Not only was he relatively cheap to acquire, but he also strengthens the guard rotation by a notable margin, and most importantly, he adds much-needed variety to Milwaukee's offense.
He hasn't posted the most impressive counting stats since arriving, but his sheer existence appears to be enough to keep defenses on their heels and unable to simply stonewall Giannis Antetokounmpo. Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton can do a bit of creating on the ball, but they're undoubtedly more useful as catch-and-shoot tools. Bledsoe is of a different stripe, daring opponents to overload wherever Giannis is while Eric churns his way to the basket.
Over the past couple of weeks, the trio of Eric, Khris, and Giannis have begun to hit their stride. Having a reliable triumvirate takes the load off of each individual, and each should reap rewards because of it. Now they've just got to figure out how to stop that pesky losing.
The Milwaukee Bucks Are At A Crossroads (DIME Magazine)
When aren't they?
The more outside takes on the team I read, the more questions pile up without any readily available answers. Do they keep on keeping on, hoping the team figures things out in time for the playoffs? Is a minor trade needed? A major one? Can Jason Kidd be your coach if you plan on going places? Will Jabari Parker's return be enough to push them over the top? Is the defensive scheme truly beyond fixing?
The Milwaukee Bucks aren't just at a crossroads. They're staring at multiple franchise-changing decisions over the coming weeks and months.
Why are the Bucks so good in the clutch? (Bucks.com)
According to Bucks.com's Alex Boeder, the stats are there to back up Milwaukee's claim as one of the NBA's best teams in the “clutch” (defined as any situation where two teams are separated by just five points with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter).
They do it all: Defend well, force turnovers, keep from getting stuck in solely halfcourt offensive sets, and they've got a lethal trio in Giannis, Khris, and Eric to fall back on (if Kidd decides to play them together in crucial situations, a trait he hasn't displayed regularly). The trend could be just that: A trend. But, for a team who finds itself in tight situations often, having a bit of experience under pressure can only prove a boon in the future.
Bucks’ Brogdon thriving in new role off bench (Fox Sports)
Nothing Earth-shattering in this article, but it does make the point that Malcolm Brogdon may prove to be the key to whether the Bucks can at least survive when their bench units are in or if subbing the starters out will inevitably lead to disaster.
Brogdon has proven to be more than competent in facilitating an offense, but questions remain about his ability to thrive with less-talented players around him. If he can, it answers a lot of questions for the Bucks’ strategy heading forward, but if he struggles, Milwaukee will continue to dig itself out of self-inflicted holes with concerning regularity.
Bucks reveal logo, name for NBA 2K League e-sports team (Milwaukee Business Journal)
I've yet to fully grasp how the Bucks found themselves at a crossroads with e-sports. I don't buy into detracting arguments about whether e-sports is “here to stay”, but I am curious just how permanent Milwaukee's experiment with its own professional 2K team will be.
Best-case? The “Bucks Gaming” team wins the league's inaugural championship.
Worst-case? That's the highest peak of success ownership will bring to the franchise.
From the Social Media Realm
Someone get this man a metal folding chair from underneath the ring!
Does anyone know when is the next @WWE show in Milwaukee or Chicago?— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) December 13, 2017
Looks like NBA 2K may have leaked Milwaukee's “City” jersey a bit early. I don't know about you guys, but I'm a fan.
Fear the Animatronic Deer:
And lo, the Four Horsemen of the Buckspocolypse arrived, adorned in Bucks-themed ugly sweaters:
So blessed to be working for these guys!!! Happy Holidays!!! pic.twitter.com/9pQbxJ5mhB— Dave Dean (@bellalukasdad) December 16, 2017
Damn you, Frank. You and your wife (who is also a Rockets fan, if you didn't know) for your hubris which clearly was the sole reason the Bucks are a disappointment.
FYI: @fmaddenNBA will be in the building tonight in Houston. (His wife is a Rockets fan.) So, even though you can blame the defense, the 40+ threes shot by the Rockets, or the brilliance of Harden/Paul for any struggles tonight, I would suggest blaming him if the Bucks lose.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 16, 2017
I've finally reached a place where I won't get too hot or cold with what the Bucks do in terms of wins and losses. Whatever they do, I won't get suckered into “believing” again. Always keep an arms-length relationship, that's my new motto.
Who am I kidding? They rip off a three-game winning streak and I'll be all the way back in.
Their odds of doing just that this week, though, seem pretty slim. They start by hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday and then have a home-and-away series with the Charlotte Hornets starting in Milwaukee on Friday followed by a visit to Charlotte on Saturday.
Having been burned in the very recent past, I'll go conservative this week and peg the Bucks for a solitary win against the Hornets (preferably at home as an early Christmas gift). That will bring them to a 16-15 record and thus one step closer to sparking off another fanbase-wide meltdown. Lots to look forward to!