New year, same old Bucks? Not so fast, says the 3-3 team who have somehow simultaneously set the NBA all-time record for made threes in a game and lost in hilarious fashion to the lowly New York Knicks in less than a week’s time.
More than the same old team, we are an extremely weird team.
It’s a welcome departure in many ways from the staid juggernaut we had become over the past two seasons if only because it holds out the possibility of a different storybook ending than previously experienced. However, the weirdness results in two things: First, extreme variance in night-to-night results and, secondly, a lot of Bobby Portis minutes. Bobby Portis is a Buck! What! We haven’t dove into the inexplicability of this version of reality we find ourselves in. If you had told me I’d have to note that this tweet happened...
Facts man in a great space in life right now. Blessed. https://t.co/OfbgeVqz3N— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) January 2, 2021
...I’d have told you you were insane! Instead, we’ve got this dude, DJ Augustin, and a broken-nosed Torrey Craig coming off the bench for us. That the Bucks have struggled to find their groove with that kind of roster turnover in personnel and abilities should be the least surprising thing about the 2020-2021 season. DJ Wilson is getting legitimate rotation minutes because there are literally no other warm bodies who can fill a big man slot. Of course there were going to be some good old fashioned thumpings in our future.
The upside, as I said, is the virtual roll of the dice we’re engaged in. Whether the odds have increased in our favor remains to be seen, but there’s something enticing about the mystery box this Milwaukee Bucks team has become. When they’re on, they’ll absolutely bury opponents beneath a barrage of threes we’ve literally never seen before. When they’re off, they’re way way way way off. The key is finding out which end of those two extremes becomes our average. For our sake let’s hope it’s the former more than the latter.
TNT cuts away from Bucks game, Milwaukee sets NBA record for 3-pointers, everyone gets pissed (Milwaukee Record)
What a strange evening for those of us watching the TNT broadcast of the butt-whooping handed to the Heat on Tuesday night. I was literally dumbfounded the entire time it was happening. At first, I figured it would be a one to two minutes (tops) check on whatever the uncompelling hell the Washington Wizards were up to, but then it kept going. And kept going. All the way until the very end of the game. Looking back, I’m impressed by the audacity more than offended by the disrespect. But make no mistake, it was deeply disrespectful.
There is something funny about Giannis worrying that if he isn’t going all-out at all times, the team would be in danger of missing the playoffs. This in a league where over half the teams qualify for the post-season, making it by far the least prestigious playoff structure in American professional sports.
Yet that same mentality lends an interesting light on Giannis’s early struggles: if he is going 110% and hasn’t found his rhythm it speaks to a different approach to dictating the flow of the game on offense. A optimistic reading gives Giannis credit for refraining from his hard-charging days of old in lieu of getting others involved after his gravity opens space on the floor. If so, of course the team is going to struggle as he and they find a balance with one another. And if it ends up working the way we all hope it could, things could be deadly for opponents.
Early Observations on All 30 Teams (The Ringer)
The earliest observation from Kevin O’Connor is that Pat Connaughton plays too much when it matters most, to which we must respond that the guard rotation is relatively shallow and that Connaughton was paid $15 million for a reason. To think he won’t get burn, and a lot of it, in this strange is misunderstanding the nature of coach Mike Budenholzer. Annoying as it may be to some, comfort with a system is the way Budenholzer optimizes his lineups.
If I’m reading this story from the Athletic correctly, the Bucks ownership group have opted to note pay the $400,000-$500,000 necessary to fly Wisconsin Herd players to Orlando to take part in an extremely truncated G-League Bubble season.
It is, without a doubt, a cheapo move, though how helpful a small sample size like that would be for player evaluation is an open question. Those inclined to think there isn’t much to be learned from a short G-League season may shrug and not worry about money saved. Perhaps the Bucks feel confident that they can forgo a year of internal scouting given roster and cap constraints.
Williams relishes defensive assignment on Antetokounmpo (NBC Chicago)
Fanpost of the Week
retired janitor’s “The Conflict of Contradiction, Hegel, and Tragedy”
It’s got everything I could want in a Fanpost: A dedication to me (and compatriot Kyle Carr), some life lessons, Jedis, and 2PT differentials. Oh, and Hegel. Always Hegel.
However, just for throwing a mess at the wall, our honorable mention for this week’s FPOTW is dgroll1’s aptly titled, “Will bucks owners get desperate if jrue ain’t the answer???” A fair question for these unfair times.
Know Your Enemy
- Detroit Pistons - Detroit Bad Boys - Detroit Pistons are perfect in first week of season … lottery odds-wise
Don’t let the somber title fool you: there’s a lot of good footage breakdown here of what is (and isn’t) working in Detroit early this season. They were genuinely psychotic with the cash they were handing out in free agency, but their group of young guys are a very intriguing kernel to build around heading forward.
A positive reading of a very good start for Mike Conley leads this SLC Dunk writer to conclude that the rotating door of point guards in Utah has finally halted. Its a bit bold for my tastes just a season and a few games in to the experiment, but as a fellow team swapping out one lead guard for another, I understand the desire to see the gamble succeed.
- Cleveland Cavaliers - Fear the Sword - An on-going call for Cleveland Cavaliers mailbag questions
Since Fear the Sword’s feed is mostly game previews and game threads, you can head over and get a sense for the in-the-moment reaction of their fans to the state of the team. Or you can hop into this months-long question thread to see what’s been gnawing at our Central brethren for a chunk of 2020.
The Social Media Section
One of, if not the, greatest Bucks players of the past 20 years
Another year, another Khrismas in the books
I assume protective facemask Craig is going to be on the court soon
Face of a $15 million man
I do deeply respect Bobby’s sneaker game
First of all, RUDE
"It looked like they had been thinking about this game for 80 days."— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 30, 2020
- Erik Spoelstra on the Bucks pic.twitter.com/edf16Oe2FC
In Wisconsin, we feast
Wisconsin holiday gluttony checklist:— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) December 29, 2020
✅ Kopps pic.twitter.com/BAQW6l2IJq
Riley’s 2020-2021 Prediction Record: 2-4
retired janitor’s 2020-2021 Prediction Record: 3-3
We’ve got another slate of intriguing games on deck with four home games this week, starting tonight against the Pistons, continuing on Wednesday with more Pistons action, and a back-to-back against Utah and Cleveland Friday and Saturday. The .500 nature of our play thus far adds a layer of exploration to every minute we see this team together which has rekindled my interest in these regular season games.
That’s a long way of saying a 2-2 week awaits, with wins over the Pistons and losses to the Jazz and Cavs. Why? Because there is no rhyme or reason to our wins or losses so far. The Bucks Way.