For the -8 of you who noticed, I was unable to run a MMMR last week. The reason? I was out of town with my fiancee looking at wedding venues, and nothing screams “seriously planning the rest of our lives together” like sitting at the hotel bar type type typing away at a glorified newsletter.
But I’m back and it doesn’t look like I missed a whole besides a ton of winning.
Which is good, because the heat is starting to build outside of the organization. There’s ever more discussion on which other Eastern Conference team is the true playoff favorite. There’s plenty of talk about whether Giannis is skilled or simply tall. There’s surprisingly little mention of the fact that the Bucks are on pace for one of the greatest seasons in the history of all basketball.
That’s fine by me and should be fine by you as well. Let them overlook, let them disregard, let them believe in whatever false narratives they’d like to build as the onslaught approaches over the hill.
Few Teams Have Ever Defended Like These Milwaukee Bucks (FiveThirtyEight)
You may recall a similar piece from a few weeks ago over on FiveThirtyEight placing the Bucks within the context of NBA history regarding their net rating. Well, unsurprisingly it turns out you can do much the same for their defense which, if it holds, will have been the eighth-best unit in league history when accounting for team rating compared to the league average.
The only shocking part of all that is that last year’s defense wasn’t able to crack the top-15 given its dominance in similar circumstances. Beyond the numbers, it is shocking that nobody has come up with a counter stronger than “make threes”.
On a related note, if teams are going to be smothered whenever they generally have the ball, their best chance is to keep pace by bunching Milwaukee up offensively. Normally, the best way to do just that is The Wall — put everybody and their sister in the paint and ask Giannis to head into the human forest.
But what if Giannis doesn’t need to do that? No, not his three point attempts, I’m talking about that turnaround mid-ranger he’s been going to time and again. It was famously the shot he elected to take when he sunk the Knicks at the buzzer years ago, and he’s taking it with more regularity against walling defenders. Will it fall reliably in the playoffs? It’s looking good now against top competition and certainly won’t hurt as another option.
And tying both of those together we have this piece by Kevin Arnovitz trying to figure out why there is so much doubt about this Bucks team outside of Milwaukee. Simply said, it boils down to last season’s conclusion and no more than that. In the era of “rings or nothing” we reside in it all comes down What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately-Itis. The shade that was Toronto continues to shadow the Bucks to this day.
Why Marvin Williams believes he left Hornets in better shape than when he arrived (Charlotte Observer)
I didn’t know that this mid-season move from Charlotte to Milwaukee was Marvin Williams’s first as a professional, and that makes the speed with which he’s made his impact felt in multiple games since arriving to the Bucks even more impressive.
That transition still has a chance to go poorly from time to time; learning how your teammates play and re-learning new strategic emphases of a coaching staff takes time. It’s a simple role Marvin is asked to fill, but all good things take time.
Bucks’ Sterling Brown carries on legacy of late activist Fred Hampton: ‘It’s in his DNA’ (The Undefeated)
A good profile of Sterling Brown as he continues to reshape his understanding of the changing role he holds as his lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee continues. That he hails from the same school/neighborhood/community as previous African American activists has served as a touch point for Brown while he navigates new responsibilities he’s taken upon himself due to the profile of his circumstances. Worth a read at a minimum.
Khris Middleton has been very good. There’s not much more to be said about there, and it’s that excellence that has calmed a lot of regular season nerves about whether he can #BringIt in the playoffs. The guy is shooting a career-high 43.8% from three. What the hell?
On the one hand, I’m giving you guys a LOT of mothership content. On the other hand, can you blame me when it’s the mothership and the mothership alone that is consistently putting a spotlight on the Bucks?
Anyways, with 51 wins in hand and 23 games to go, it’s going to be a tight race to see if Milwaukee can break the 70-win mark to join the Warriors and Bulls as the only teams who have thoroughly dominated the regular season. Seven of those games will come against the East’s 2-5 seeds and another three are on back-to-backs. They’re clearly capable of beating the brakes off literally any opponent, so the only thing likely standing in the way of history is internal intransigence.
Know Your Enemy
Heat - Hot Hot Hoops - Miami Heat have one recurring problem late in games
The Heat have been one of the strongest surprises this season, though anytime you can team up Erik Spoelstra with the likes of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adabayo, and a slew of undrafted rookies you have to assume a deep playoff run is around the corner. Yet! They’ve struggled more over their past 10 (4-6) and are prone to having to grind games to death in the fourth quarter and OT. Is their AST:TO ratio to blame?
Pacers - Indy Cornrows - The Pacers are putting innovation before tradition with zone defense
Nate McMillan hasn’t normally been lauded for his willingness to throw caution to the wind and get weird which makes their late experiments with 3-2 zone defenses interesting. Pro teams are able to figure zones out eventually — it’s what makes them dangerous to rely on for anything more than occasional possessions — but if you’re not reading correctly you can gum up. Also intriguing is the idea that the Pacers have been forced to this by a poor-moving Malcolm Brogdon who is struggling even more than usual to keep the perimeter secure.
Lakers - Silver Screen & Roll - 5 things I’d like to see in the Lakers’ last 25 Games
Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and small ball are the ingredients the Lakers should try adding before the regular season is out. At least, that’s what SSR’s Darius Soriano would prefer they experiment with as we race down the final third of the year. One change that didn’t make the cut? Promoting Jason Kidd to head coach. Soon, Jason. Soon.
Suns - Bright Side of the Sun - Report: Oubre has meniscus tear, could miss rest of Suns season
That just sort of really sucks, especially with how decent Oubre had been playing. Given his reliance on energetic motion as a way to impact the game, it’s a double shame. It’ll be a tough slog for Phoenix to try to sneak into a playoff spot at the end of the season.
Reader Content of the Week
The Bucks need even more All-NBA recognition, and Lohaus Fan did us all a huge favor and broke down the trends that could lie behind Khris Middleton’s path to a third-team nod once the season closes.
Vulture Talk — Giannis Antetokounmpo & The Bucks Are In For A Free Agency Debacle (Hot New Hip Hop)
This is in here for no reason other than I needed to find a way to give Hot New Hip Hop its inaugural debut on Brew Hoop. Welcome to the MMMR family, HNHH.
The Social Media Section
...why isn’t she wearing a Bucks dress? Is this a sign he’s going to Toronto?
Max player money gets you the ability to have a professional camera guy record your exploits
Lake Michigan looking good given the time of year
Credit the Herd for throwing EVERYTHING at the uniform wall to see if it sticks
Larry Sanders lives on forever
It looks like this was the start of the Harden x Giannis beef in 2014 pic.twitter.com/Y3gDEl40Td— Hoops Provider (@HoopsProvider) February 28, 2020
And so will Brandon Jennings
"THAT'S WHAT YOU DO!!"— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 26, 2020
- Brandon Jennings pic.twitter.com/XjYKXStk9P
And Jason Smith, I guess
Guess what this guy is doing tonight? Bucks vs Wizards tonight 7 pm tip time catch the pre and post game live with me and @cmillsnbcs. Watch these two prime time players by clicking on this link. https://t.co/5OTdUGLUhV pic.twitter.com/ve02nIQRLN— Jason Smith (@JasonSmith014) February 24, 2020
Antoine Walker compares himself to Draymond Green, Giannis Antetokounmpo.https://t.co/hFeqw82xEO— Bucks Nation (@BucksNationCP) February 25, 2020
MMMR 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 40-20
retired janitor’s 2019-2020 Prediction Record: 52-8
Surely, and I mean SURELY, I would have pegged the Bucks to be a perfect 3-0 in the past week. Having taken on rj’s sound advice, I do my best to present the idea that I 100% buy in to every game being a win.
We’ve got a full week to give that thought process another try with four games in seven nights against the Heat, Pacers, Lakers, and Suns. Three out of the four are road games, tonight’s game is the second in a back-to-back, and a western road trip to close the week out. Another four wins will be there, but it has the potential to be a grind.