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Extended Forecast: Okay, It’s Time to Make Up Some Ground

An Extended Look at the Bucks’ Schedule Every Two Weeks

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers
The LeBron-less(?) Lakers Come to Town
Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the latest addition of Brew Hoop’s Extended Forecast, where the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves with some significant ground to make up. This is going to be a season-long series, covering all 82 games and giving an extended forecast of what the schedule looks like for the Bucks. Obviously, the first and second games will be the two most easy to predict, since we have more information on injuries, trades, etc, but in general we still should have an idea of what is coming. Or not?

As for how the last forecast went, Detroit was easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Even at full strength for them, and without everybody (except Giannis) for us, the Pistons were an easy win. The first Knicks game was pretty bad, and the Washington game was not good either. As for the Philadelphia game, I lucked out. The Bucks did too, but I would say that Philadelphia didn’t as much. We still had Giannis and Jrue, and The Shooting Guard From Duke I think is now a starter (I am too loyal of a Badger fan to mention his name, but as long as he’s good, I won’t insult him). Philadelphia meanwhile started Paul Reed, played Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey for over 40 minutes, and on top of it they almost won. As I said, in my opinion, the Bucks lucked out. But, I did guarantee at least one victory over the Knicks, and they did so in the Garden on a back-to-back, which is not easy! Then, we had no Giannis for the game in Boston and that went to overtime at least, but we came up short. Giannis returned for the Bucks last road game in Atlanta, but Milwaukee’s defense was flat-out ineffective as the Hawks blew them out.

Upcoming, the schedule should be much easier for the Bucks. Remember, this is still a good basketball team, who has had injury trouble and a tough road trip to start the season. Remember the saying, “games don’t count until Christmas?” Anyways, you may think I’m full of it when the first game of this forecast is against the Lakers at home. But the other three games of the four-game homestand are against some of the current worst teams in basketball. We also have Indiana on the road, as well as a trip to the Mile High City. With how bad the Pacers have been to start the season, the injuries that the Lakers and Nuggets are dealing with, I think it’s a guarantee that they do no worse than .500 on this forecast. It’s been a rough start, but a lot of the NBA (like the freaking Timberwolves!) are starting to come back to reality. Now it’s time for the Bucks to do the same.

Injuries have been a real issue for the Bucks, but Khris Middleton is coming back from the league’s COVID-19 protocols. We’ll see how long it takes him to get back up to speed. As for Giannis and George Hill, they were “game time decisions” against Atlanta, so I’d expect them back pretty early. We’re still waiting on Brook Lopez, and until Donte DiVincenzo actually plays a game, I assume he won’t be playing. The rest of the team is back and healthy, but we still are without 3 or 4 starters for a little while (depending on what they do with Donte) so that affects things somewhat.

Jon’s 2021-22 Projected Record: 9-5

Bucks’ 2021-22 Actual Record: 6-8

The Forecast

Los Angeles Lakers: November 17th

Many players on the Lakers have been in and out of the lineup, including LeBron James. Thus, they have been limited for most of the season so far, but maybe this team just isn’t as good as people thought? Without LeBron, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook lead the charge, with Carmelo Anthony having a resurgent season off the bench. The rest of the team contains a random hodgepodge of players, and 5-10 years ago this roster would have been amazing, even with players like Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn at high school age. But so far, age really has been a factor.

Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook are leading the way in most categories, partially because LeBron does not qualify due to injury. Where injuries are concerned, Trevor Ariza is out for at least a month after the Bucks’ play this game, so he will definitely not be available. LeBron James will either just be returning or not back yet, and Anthony Davis is also questionable. Austin Reaves is also for sure going to miss this game, and Kendrick Nunn, Rajon Rondo and Talen-Horton Tucker are all “iffy”.

Oklahoma City Thunder: November 19th

Oklahoma City is bad, probably with worse talent than Detroit has. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a good player, and whether he is a point guard or shooting guard it makes little difference, he’s All-Star capable if he played for a different team. The Thunder have no players making $10 million this season, and only three make over $5 million. That shows how young and unproven this team is. Gabriel Deck, who I’ve never heard of before (and that says something, since I know 99% of the players and where they came from), is fourth on this team in salary at $4 million. The Thunder, therefore, shouldn’t match the Bucks. Money isn’t everything, but sometimes it is! When I said Jordan Nwora might be the second best Timberwolf, that was a joke, but in this case, it might actually be true. Would you take Josh Giddey over Nwora, for sure? Darius Bazley? Alexsei Pokusevski? Maybe, but it’s not a stretch to say that with regular significant minutes, he might be better than all of them.

At this point, the Thunder have no injuries, so they should be at full strength. Shai is their best all-around player, and then its’ a hodgepodge of randomness. If we don’t win this game, be prepared for another “Am I Overreacting?”

Orlando Magic: November 20th

Orlando is starting to, well, at least look like they won’t continue to be bad for more than 5 years. It doesn’t help that Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac have missed the entire season to this point, but does it really matter that much here? Cole Anthony has been really having a great sophomore season, and the twin towers up front in Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. seem to have found themselves. Add in two interesting rookies in Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner, and you might actually see the Magic that might happen with this team in the future. Yeah, that’s a bad joke, but unlike the Thunder this team actually seems to have foundational pieces, maybe at least more than one. With that said, they are not a good team right now and this should be a win.

Isaac and Fultz will miss this game, and seemingly the rest of the roster has missed some time here and there, including Gary Harris, E’Twaun Moore, Michael Carter-Williams, and Chuma Okeke. In fact, I thought at the beginning of the season they started Mo Bamba out of emergency, but here they are still starting him. Cole Anthony is having a great season so far, and really looks like he might be the face of the franchise for the moment.

Detroit Pistons: November 24th

If we didn’t get the fortunate break of being able to play Detroit twice in the same month, November could be a lot worse. Without Middleton, Holiday, Lopez and DiVincenzo, the Bucks still went into Detroit and blew out the Pistons. Cade Cunningham is slowly starting to get up to speed, but overall this team is really bad. This is the worst of the three teams on this homestand, record-wise, and while they may have the best (arguably) player of these three teams in Jerami Grant, it is not enough. Looking at it, it’s pretty funny that you can group three whole NBA teams together and say Jerami Grant is the best player. And I thought the league was “overflowing” with talent!

Now, I’m not saying that Grant is a bad player, or SGA is, or whomever on Orlando is, and I have no chance playing in the NBA myself, but it just shows that there really is a talent gap between teams like the Bucks and teams like Detroit. There will be a point where Detroit eventually does find a way to beat us, but I don’t see it being this game.

Grant has taken the reigns from Saddiq Bey as the best player on this team, and Cade Cunningham is starting to score. However, he has a pretty low PER compared to seven of the other eight most used players on this roster. Kelly Olynyk now has a knee injury, and will be out until around Christmas, and since this is before Thanksgiving still, don’t expect him to play. Also, Isaiah Livers is out until “at least November 15th”, and he probably wouldn’t have a big impact anyways.

@ Denver Nuggets: November 26th

This is the game that is by far the most dangerous for the Bucks. No, I’m not talking about Nikola Jokic, as a man who will tackle you after getting fouled like he did to Markieff Morris, I’m talking about danger of losing. The Lakers are the only other formidable team (at this point) on the forecast, and they might not have LeBron in Milwaukee. The altitude of Denver always makes it a tough place to play, then add in that they have a quality roster and a good record. Nikola Jokic is the defending MVP, and while he’s not quite at that level this season, he’s still doing very well. Will Barton is currently their second best player, with struggles and/or injuries to Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, but he’s actually having a great season for him. Also, Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland is a really intimidating name, and a good choice for him. However, he’s only playing 15 minutes or so and scoring less than seven points, so it’s all bark and no bite at this point. Get it, “bones,” like what dogs chew on? (Okay, I’m done with dad jokes until the next forecast, I promise, and it’s all in good fun anyways.)

Jamal Murray will be out, and there is a good chance Michael Porter Jr. will miss this game as well. Vlatko Cancar is also on the injury list at this point, but he’s not very impactful to the game. Jokic is the leader in all of the major categories aside from blocks, and that includes tackles. Maybe the Broncos will give him a call for next season?

@ Indiana Pacers: November 28th

Seeing that we have already won in Indiana makes me a bit nervous about this game, but we should have a healthy Middleton by now, as well as Lopez and possibly even DiVincenzo will be available. Regardless, the Bucks with two of those players are definitely the better team, and are probably better with just one of them. The Pacers have been battling injuries, but at this point it seems like they are starting to figure things out a bit. Rookie of the Year darkhorse Chris Duarte has been outstanding so far, and he has been an important piece with players like Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb missing time. The Pacers do have talent here, but the Bucks seem to just have their number. I’m not really sure what to make of this game, especially because I don’t think we sweep the Pacers this season and we have already won In-the-Annapolis (Charles Barkley reference, and no, it’s not a dad joke it’s a reference so I didn’t break my promise). I guess it depends on if we gain momentum during that homestand.

TJ Warren will be out, and the Pacers usually have someone else on the injury report, but at this point it’s pretty clear. Isaiah Jackson and Caris LeVert have been consistently listed as questionable, so maybe one of them misses this game? Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis are the two best players on this team, but the rest of the roster has some intriguing pieces as well.

Jon’s Prediction: 4-2

I think it’s shameful if we don’t sweep the OKC-Orlando-Detroit segment; honestly, like how much more could the schedule help get us back to where we need? (There is a New Orleans, Houston, Cleveland stretch though, in December.) With that said, losing one of them is always a possibility, not a high possibility, but I’ll accept that 2-1 is possible. 1-2 is panic time. 0-3 means trade Giannis while we can. (I’m kidding!) This is a great chance to make up ground on some of the better records in the East (I say “records” on purpose, the Bucks are a better team than most of the teams higher in the standings).

As for the other three games, they are all winnable. The Lakers without full strength LeBron and possibly no LeBron (and more), the Nuggets without Murray and Porter Jr, and Indiana being Indiana. Is 6-0 a possibility? Sure, but knowing the Bucks so far this season, I wouldn’t count on it. If my 21-22 record prediction was accurate or they were even better than 9-5 right now, I would say 5-1 through this stretch, with the most likeliest loss being Denver, then LA, then Indiana. However, they haven’t been as good as expected, so I’m going to 4-2. 3-3 is not an encouraging sign, and if they go 2-4 or worse then it is time to wonder if we are even playoff-capable. It seems very “2008 Bucks” to do something like that, and hopefully we won’t see those times again. I’m going with 4-2, but if they do 5-1 that’s them making up for the Timberwolves game.

Poll

What Will the Bucks’ Record Be Over the Next Two Weeks?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    5-1 or 6-0 (The Champs are Back!!!!!)
    (99 votes)
  • 32%
    4-2 (Jon’s Prediction)
    (68 votes)
  • 15%
    3-3 (Uh-oh)
    (33 votes)
  • 5%
    2-4 or worse (PANIC!!!!)
    (12 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now