If you had told me a week ago that the Bucks would escape from the West Coast road trip with a 2-2 record, I'd have been "okay". Unfortunately, they dispatched a Golden State Warriors team without a single star and barely escaped the Los Angeles Lakers, and the losses to the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers are ones we'll go on forgetting. Two wins are two wins, but the Bucks were just a few mistakes away from an 0-4 trip out west.
And, with the playoff positioning race so tight, every victory especially counts, doubly so if you're like me and hope for nothing more than a chance at taking advantage of a Boston Celtics team still reliant on excelling young players to carry them without the likes of Kyrie Irving. Sure, Brad Stevens would inevitably out-coach the Bucks into the eighth layer of hell, but at least we'd avoid watching an undesired rematch with the Toronto Raptors.
With the season ending, it is as good a time as any to look back on the year that was, set up the upcoming offseason of potentially unbelievable importance, and check in on some other side stories around the Bucks.
The Bucks Have Serious Soul-Searching To Do (Sports Illustrated)
With all the concerns floating around the Milwaukee Bucks, it can seem difficult to keep track of the problems ailing the team. Plugging holes can seem difficult if they're so numerous that you lose sight of some while looking at more egregious or direct dangers.
SI's Rob Mahoney does his best amidst the chaos to sum up the crossroads the team finds itself. Either a culture shift can be made in the offseason in the hopes that a top-to-bottom series of changes rights the ship, or another series of messy hirings will take place all but guaranteeing the probably departure of the team's biggest star since the 1970s.
This one is worth reading if only for the following passage:
“There’s a new arena being completed just to the north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Unless things change by its grand opening in the fall, though, it will feel like a fancy new theater screening a movie everyone’s already seen.”
* sizzle *
Making their mark: How the NBA is breaking Thon Maker down (The Pick and Roll)
A properly deep dive on a season of disappointment for Thon Maker.
After a promising rookie campaign closed on a high note in the playoffs against the Toronto Raptors, you couldn't be blamed for hoping that Maker might somehow put it all together to become a useful NBA center.
Unfortunately, opposing teams have figured out that his weaknesses in sheer power, coordination, and skill are so massive that they fear no consequence for spamming offensive sets targeted at Thon. After nearly 82 games this year, Maker appears no closer to figuring out a way to positively impact the team while he is on the floor, and he's seen his minutes plummet as a result.
I for one am crossing my fingers in the hopes that one more offseason is enough time for him to turn things around. Its all I can do at this point.
You'll have to scroll to down to the third point in Zach Lowe's weekly column to get a slice of a quick Tony Snell breakdown.
Overall, I find myself agreeing with Lowe that Snell has the potential to be a perfect fit in a starting lineup filled with ball-dominant teammates, and it is a shame that he's been pushed to the side as the playoff chase continues.
He's not a flashy player, and most nights he's as likely to post a 0/0/0/0 stat line as he is to hit six threes in a row, but he works nicely as an off-ball threat if used properly.
The Lowe Post with Howard Beck, Bleacher Report (ESPN - Podcast) & ‘If You Want to Be Great, You Have to Work’: Jason Kidd Counters His Critics (Bleacher Report)
A double gut-punch of Jason Kidd content from Howard Beck for all you masochists out there.
Kidd, who slunk off to Phoenix after being relieved of head coaching duties with the Bucks, remained relatively quiet since his firing a couple of months ago. (Besides the initial flurry of Twitter smear war after his dismissal) Now he's opened up to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck on his reflections of how his early coaching career has gone so far, what he regrets, and more importantly what he doesn't regret.
Warning: For those of you #FireKidd disciples, you may find your blood pressure skyrocketing at the mere mention of He Who Shall No Longer Be Named In This Article. If you think these pieces may ruin your Monday, just skip them.
Young Prospects Season in Review: MIL (Dunc'd On Basketball - Podcast)
Another podcast for your morning listening needs. This time around, hosts Nate Duncan and Danny LeRoux break down the progress (or lack thereof) of each NBA teams’ prospects, and they being their exercise with none other than the Milwaukee Bucks!
They evaluate Giannis Antetokounmpo, of course, but also discuss DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, Thon Maker, and others. That's right, that was no typo: Someone was talking about DJ Wilson! Rejoice!
Jason Terry still making an impact in Milwaukee (Fan Rag Sports)
Some emergency Jason Terry content to close out the article section of this week's piece.
Something tells me we might be seeing the final ride of Terry's career, but hey, the head coaching search will probably range far and wide. Maybe Jason will get a sit-down with ownership, if only for kicks?
From the Social Media Realm
For the Kobestans among us:
They literally couldn't have picked a better picture to use for this not-at-all-forced tweet:
The BJ3 Experience is set to at least last until the summer:
Sources: Brandon Jennings is signing a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks for the rest of the season. His second 10-day contract expired on Friday night.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 31, 2018
Not to set anyone into a panic, but, uh, Rick Pitino is going to try and barrel his way into the head coaching spot in Milwaukee this offseason:
No confirmed NBA interest in Pitino has yet emerged. The only known contact to date he’s had with an NBA team, league sources say, was initiated by Pitino’s side — not the team (Milwaukee)— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 30, 2018
The Wisconsin Herd's inaugural season didn't end in a playoff bout, but you'd be hard-pressed to argue it wasn't a pretty successful go-around!
It’s the pros or bust for Kostas Antetokounmpo, even if that doesn't end up being in the NBA:
That Giannis guy might have a shot at a footballing career if this whole basketball thing doesn't work out for him:
Steve Nash and Giannis really went for 94 headers pic.twitter.com/qWZJQmuQ1b— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 28, 2018
Finally, with March Madness winding down, here's the definitive Bucks bracket for your debating pleasure:
Amazingly, we've reached the final two weeks of the 2018-19 regular season, and the Bucks get a bit of a reprieve this week on their way to finishing the year out. Things begin Tuesday with a visit from a hobbled Boston Celtics squad, followed by the Brooklyn Nets Thursday before closing the week on Saturday in New York to play the Knicks.
The Boston game will be a good preview of an increasingly likely first-round match-up, especially with the Celtics down multiple men (namely, Kyrie Irving). In addition, both New York-based teams will be doing their best to get those last critical losses for lottery positioning. A 3-0 week is definitely in the offing, and every win will count in the race for seventh with the Miami Heat.
End-of-season-sort-of-meaningful basketball, everyone!
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that today is my Mom's birthday. Happy birthday, Mom! And to all of you fine folks: