Ever since the Bucks started losing semi-challenging games with regularity post-All-Star Break, their projected record has become a veritable moving target. They've outplayed their expected W-L of 32-34 (per Basketball Reference), but will that continue?
This week, I was on the prowl trying to determine how the Bucks can reach 46 wins: an arbitrary value with no real significant value beyond being five games above another .500 season.
The good news? Milwaukee plays eight actively-tanking teams to end the season.
The bad news? They've got to get through a number of playoff teams to get to those cupcakes, including, but not limited to, the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, and others.
Is 46 wins unrealistic? No, I don't think so. But are the Bucks capable of doing what they have to do in toss-up games to get over the .500 hump? That remains to be seen.
Bucks Request Waivers on Mirza Teletovic (Bucks.com) & Brandon Jennings is Back with the Milwaukee Bucks on a 10-Day Contract (Dime Magazine)
The biggest piece of ICYMI news from the weekend undoubtedly is the release of forward Mirza Teletovic and the signing of Brandon Jennings. Lucky for us, our dear blog overlord Mitchell Maurer already has a bit of analysis on the situation for your digestion.
Part of the difficulty in assessing these moves is the uncertainty around what is to become of Mirza's contract impact on Milwaukee's cap situation. He'll be paid every cent of it regardless, but will the Bucks be able to get an exemption from the NBA allowing them to wipe the salary's impact on the team's cap next season? We'll have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, the Bucks now bring in an old flame in the form of Brandon Jennings. Jennings has been a no-doubt scoring machine during his time with the Wisconsin Herd, but he's also been prone to eye-popping (in the negative sense) turnover numbers. For now, a 10-day contract means he can help provide short-term help in the guard rotation while Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova continue to heal up.
An eventful weekend for the roster spot nerds!
I know, a podcast. But the Bucks get some valuable air-time on this edition of the Lowe Post podcast with guest Kevin Arnovitz!
It was cathartic hearing Arnovitz's frustration with the Bucks as it is a feeling most Bucks fans have grappled with for the past few seasons, if not ever since the franchise’s inception.
Unfortunately for us Lowe and Arnovitz weren't able to hash out a plan for a team-wide reclamation project in the ~10 minutes they discussed the team's ills. However, the biggest need in their eyes? Sheer NBA-level talent. Shocking: Even a talent like Giannis can't carry a mediocre team too far in today's league.
I'm not going to wave the white flag on the Eric Bledsoe-era just yet, but there is no question that his style of point guard play isn't a perfect fit with an archaic Bucks offensive scheme.
His shooting troubles are well known, though one must credit him with not being afraid of trying to get things going from three to help stretch the floor even a little bit. While he's not a great jump-shooter, he has the potential to drive to the rim and suck the defense in around him. Unfortunately, his sub-par passing hampers his ability to exploit opponents who gravitate towards him. An ill-advised pass between the legs of three defenders ends up in a turnover more often than it does a highlight reel assist.
The eventual returns of Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon should help ease the burden, but neither of those guys are true stop-gaps in a weak Milwaukee guard rotation.
Point Giannis, save us. You're our only hope.
Update: Brandon Jennings is back to save the day!
If you're anything like me, you saw this headline and immediately said, “what?” And your initial reaction wouldn't be half wrong!
The title doesn't do the article justice: Writer Josh Cornelissen isn't arguing that by falling into the eight seed the Milwaukee Bucks have the Eastern Conference right where they want them. Rather, he posits that almost every team in the East is theoretically beatable in a seven-game series, from the top-seeded Toronto Raptors on down.
Further, some of the Bucks' recent losses have been relatively close. For one of the league's best "clutch" teams earlier this season a painful reversion to the mean only makes sense. Does that make me feel any better that Milwaukee is falling inexorably back to a .500 record? No, but at least I can put up a facade of hope if I so choose.
Fox Point home once owned by former Bucks coach Jason Kidd sold (Milwaukee Business Journal)
Some might lament the sale of Jason Kidd's Fox Point home as the official end of an era. I like to believe that someone with a #FireKidd Twitter avatar somehow got the cash together to purchase it from him and now plans on demolishing it.
It is the only way the movement can find true closure.
From the Social Media Realm
I can't tell if this tweet puts to rest concerns that Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo don't get along, or if it will just act as another shovel-load of coal for the fires:
Luc Mbah a Moute was one of my favorite Bucks of my early fandom, and it has been a joy watching him carve out a spot on a number of NBA teams (and now contending with the Rockets):
Last night was my last time playing at the Bradley Center where it all started. A lot of good memories. My first year in the NBA, first moments, first years. It's a good thing for the city to have a new arena, but I had a lot of great memories there that I will cherish forever. pic.twitter.com/CtghArDbHn— Luc Mbah a Moute (@mbahamoute) March 8, 2018
Mess with beloved Bucks Twitter icons, and you're going to get messed with right back:
This doesn’t seem like the right way to do it pic.twitter.com/O9eOd1fJPH— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) March 8, 2018
Bucks fans are going to come for you. He is a treasure— (@tpcourier) March 8, 2018
Bucks fans. Including me. pic.twitter.com/DagHpoPpuZ— Qdoba Gooding Jr. (@qdobagoodingjr) March 8, 2018
Good morning to Dr. Dave and Dr. Dave alone— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) March 8, 2018
John Henson out here earning those contract bonus dollars:
John Henson has now met the 60 games criteria in his contract. The Milwaukee center will now earn a $250K bonus. Henson will earn an additional $500K if he plays in 15 of the 17 remaining games. The last time that Henson appeared in 60 games or more... https://t.co/AGQnW6gbYm— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 8, 2018
Your weekly Rashad Vaughn Update of Eternal Sadness:
The Magic have waived Rashad Vaughn, whose sore knee wasn't likely to be healed before the end of his second 10-day contract. Rodney Purvis of Lakeland in the G-League is the likely candidate to be signed to a 10-day to take Vaughn's place on the roster.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) March 7, 2018
And finally, read a gosh dang book:
Reading is an important skill to work on https://t.co/qp6uqXBOuv— Matthew Dellavedova (@matthewdelly) March 7, 2018
This upcoming week is one where the Bucks could easily do a rope-a-dope on fans. The level of competition is as low as it will be for nearly the rest of the season. If there's ever been a time for the Bucks to rip off three more wins, now is it.
Tonight the Bucks travel southwards to play the Memphis Grizzlies. Then, Wednesday, they continue their mini road trip in Orlando to face the Magic once more. Finally, the week wraps up with a Saturday romp with the Atlanta Hawks at home.
On the one hand, you have to imagine Milwaukee has more than enough to dispatch these three tanking teams, propelling them beyond the eight seed. On the other... #NeverTrustTheBucks.
Here's to anticipating the Bucks letting us all down at least one time this week.