Welcome to the latest addition of Brew Hoop’s Extended Forecast, where the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves back around contention in time for the holidays. 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 upcoming 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?
Starting with the last forecast for the Bucks, the updated roster additions of DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews proved to be solid pieces, especially now that Brook Lopez is projected to miss months. Donte DiVincenzo will debut on Wednesday, and Semi Ojeleye may or may not return during this next forecast. So, the depth helps.
With the games from last forecast, we beat Charlotte and it was not a pushover game by any stretch. Then, without Giannis and more, we lost the home-road back-to-back in Toronto, which I stated would be difficult even with Giannis. My guarantee of at least one win over the Heat happened, and don’t give me “not at full strength” because Giannis missed this game as well. He then returned for his birthday to defeat the surprisingly good Cleveland Cavaliers. And at about as full strength for the Bucks, we had Miami again on the road to start a four-game trip and, lost. Not only lost, but lost without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and a bad game from Tyler Herro. They started Dewayne Dedmon, PJ Tucker and a Martin twin (I don’t care, they both are “meh”), so how the blankity-blank did we lose? I know PJ Tucker is solid, but he can’t score 10 points to save his life, so seriously, what happened? At least they managed to beat Houston, and finished off in New York with a win. This was my first perfect prediction based on record, so that makes me a bit excited! And, thanks to the Timberwolves, I remain one game ahead of the Bucks on my record prediction (which would have them tied for first in the East). Here is where I stand vs. where the Bucks actually are.
Jon’s Projected 2021-22 Record: 19-9
Bucks’ Actual 2021-22 Record: 18-10
The upcoming schedule seems to be pretty easy to me, so we can call this the Christmas Gift portion of the schedule. We start off by finishing our four-game road trip in Boston, who is hovering right around where you would expect them to (worse than the Bucks, but in the playoff picture). We then have a home game with the Pacers, where DiVincenzo will debut, and who knows what to expect of them. I still believe they are a solid basketball team. We then go to New Orleans, who still won’t have Zion Williamson by then. I don’t think he’s as great as they say, but injuries have hurt his career to this point. We then have another home game with Cleveland, and then a few days off before playing Houston at home and wrapping up that series. Following that, the toughest game in my opinion occurs in Dallas for another home-road back-to-back. Dallas also happens to be the best team here. We finish the Christmas gift schedule with another one against Boston, but at Fiserv Forum. Now, let’s take a game-by-game breakdown.
@Boston December 13th & December 25th
Boston has been having an interesting season. For one, Al Horford’s resurgence has been nothing short of surprising, starting in every game he has played, blocking 1.8 shots per game, averaging over 12 points and 8 rebounds, etc. They are currently right around where we expect them to be, not quite as good as the Bucks, but a solid team nonetheless. We of course lost game one in Boston, although that was without Giannis and went to OT, in the midst of that five-game road trip. The first game is on a back-to-back and finishing off a four-game road trip, so it might be a tough one to pull off. The last game of this forecast is also against Boston on Christmas Day, and I think the Bucks have a much better shot at pulling off a victory in that matchup.
Jaylen Brown has been in and out of the lineup all season, along with Robert Williams and Al Horford, but at this point there is nothing significant. Jayson Tatum now leads the team in scoring by a clear margin, with Brown as the “Middleton” of this team. Oh, and did anyone else see that Enes Kanter is now Enes Freedom? Just an interesting tidbit with all he’s went through in his life.
Indiana December 15th
Indiana is one of those teams who has frequented our forecasts this season, and this is our first home game with the Pacers. I still believe they are a better team than the record shows, but right now they are quite a bit under .500. Rick Carlisle is a very good coach, Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis are borderline All-Stars, and they have quality pieces on the roster. Myles Turner is among NBA leaders in blocked shots, and they have quality wings surrounding that big three. I’m honestly very confused as to why they are as bad as they are at the moment, if anyone has suggestions besides Turner and Sabonis not fitting well up front, please let me know (and look at how big the Cavs’ lineup is, so that isn’t a great answer either).
Where injuries go, there will be no TJ’s for the Pacers (Warren & McConnell), so that cuts on the depth a bit. Justin Holiday is also battling Covid-19 and is questionable. Chris Duarte has also started to level off after a blazing start for him, and has even moved to the bench sometimes. Brogdon and Sabonis lead in most categories aside from shot-blocking.
@New Orleans December 17th
The Pelicans aren’t as God awful as they were earlier in the season, which I still am a bit surprised by how bad they are. With that said, this is not a good team, and the Pelicans really need to figure out what they want to do. A lot of things that are unusual are happening here, such as Brandon Ingram leading in assists, and rookie Herbert Jones leading in steals. The rotation has also been relatively inconsistent between random veterans as well as other young players, and who is getting the playing time. For instance, 13 players are averaging over 11 minutes per game, and all of them have played in at least 18 games. They clearly just don’t know what they are doing down in New Orleans, and it is showing on the court. Frankly, the Bucks shouldn’t have trouble with this game.
Zion Williamson will likely be out for this game as well, and that’s really the only major injury they have dealt with. Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas have been the two best players here all season, and lead in most major categories. I also bet you can’t guess the highest PER on the team, can you? It’s Willy Hernangomez, so that should explain why I’m all but guaranteeing a win here.
Cleveland December 18th
Cleveland continues to hover around the .500 mark, but at least what is going on in Cleveland is starting to make more sense. Ricky Rubio is no longer second on the team in scoring, which now belongs to Jarrett Allen, and the starting lineup is starting to work better. The trio of power forwards and/or centers are going to stay, with Kevin Love likely spelling all of them off the bench. How much longer they will be able to do this, especially without last season’s leading scorer Collin Sexton, is uncertain. But, the fact that they have made it a third of the way through the season in contention is progress, and likely the best they have been aside from LeBron James-led Cavaliers teams.
Sexton is the only guarantee to miss this game. Meanwhile, Darius Garland and Allen are leading the team in most categories, aside from blocks which is led by Evan Mobley.
Houston December 22nd
The Rockets just are not a good team. Do I really need to talk about this game? Really? Okay, fine, especially in light of Milwaukee’s recent narrow victory there. So, Houston is actually a better team than New Orleans, but looking at the best players and comparing things that way, I am not so sure. Houston is entirely a youthful basketball team and washed up veterans combined, and that usually becomes a recipe for disaster. They have been doing better lately, and I’m not sure why, but this team just has a long way to go.
Christian Wood leads in points, rebounds, and blocks while Kevin Porter Jr. leads in steals and assists (and turnovers). Jalen Green has been hurt for a while and might miss this game, and John Wall is guaranteed to not be around. Others who might miss include Eric Gordon, Kevin Porter, Danuel House and Usman Garuba. Am I done now? Good, we don’t have to talk about Houston again.
@Dallas December 23rd
This is the toughest game on the books, because it is on the road after a home game and also is the best team on this list. I know they don’t have the best record and Dallas does not have many good wins, but they have the best player on any of these teams in Luka Doncic. The size Dallas has might also be problematic, as well as all of the connections they have to the Bucks of years past. For example, Sterling Brown is in Dallas’ rotation, or at least partially in it. Jason Kidd is also the head coach, and you would bet that he is not happy that we won a ring without him. This spells a forced schedule loss by the NBA if any game does.
Dallas has no major injuries at this point, so who knows. Luka is averaging 25-8-8, which is on the same stratosphere at least as Giannis. Also, for what it’s worth, Kristaps Porzingis is actually having a really good season.
Jon’s Prediction: 5-2
I know, more of the same, maybe I’ll let you know if I actually change my prediction. The games I am most concerned about are the road game in Boston to close out the trip, and the Dallas game on the 23rd. Houston, Cleveland, New Orleans and Boston on Christmas should be wins, especially with some of the injuries and inactives going on here. That leaves the home game with Indiana, which should be easy, but at the same time, Indiana is the only team to have been threatening in the division in the past. They are rumored to be looking at trading stars, so who knows 100% what the roster will be in a few days. So, I’m going to go with 5-2, especially because I believe those four games are guaranteed to be wins, and the Bucks are likely going to be able to win one of the other three. What do you think? Comment and vote in the poll below.
What Will the Bucks’ Record Be In This Forecast?
This poll is closed
6-1 or 7-0 (What a Nice Gift)
5-2 (Jon’s Prediction)
4-3 (That Gift You’ll Take But Didn’t Ask For)
3-4 or worse (Worse, how could it get any worse? Take a look around you Ellen, we’re at the threshold of Hell!)