This week, my introduction to the column is inspired as most of the best ones are: By one of OR’s tweets.
here is a poll for you guys. bucks current (last 2-3 games) main pnr defense is:— oldresorter (@oldresorter) December 12, 2021
As of posting, over half the votes swung towards “blitz”, and I think we’re seeing something like the wisdom of crowds at work here. For much of the early part of the season with Brook Lopez away, the Bucks have used some combination of a switching defense and zone defense in their main defensive sets (or so it seems to me). These past few weeks still have those elements, but there does feel to be a purposeful direction to have the defensive big men blitz pick and rolls no matter the circumstance.
Its most egregious when DeMarcus Cousins — no spring chicken — gets caught out above the break trying to envelope a ball-handler only to have the ball passed two to three times to an open guy in the paint. Bobby Portis is more mobile than Cousins, but recovering fast enough so that the rest of the defense doesn’t suddenly become a scramble to keep the ship from sinking is nigh impossible. The question is, then, why?
For now, I tend to believe this is a strategic choice by the coaching staff to have new looks in their back pockets for later in the season. It’s a somewhat simple defensive instruction for Boogie to follow while he acclimates to the team, and the play difference between Bobby and Cousins means Budenholzer can evaluate the merits of the system through different prisms. Frustrating though some of the possessions can be, the Bucks are still winning, so tinkering if just fine for now.
Plus, DeMarcus Cousins has a +19.8 net rating. Can’t be all that bad if he has that kind of shiny small-sample number, right?
Milwaukee Bucks dedicate interview room to former broadcaster Jim Paschke (Journal Sentinel)
A very cool and deserved honor for Jim. 35 years with one team will always be remarkable, and I’m glad the team looks to be keeping him involved with the goings on as much as he’d like. Congrats once again!
The Bucks are now 12-2 in their last 14 games, with losses to the Heat (a road game) and the Toronto Raptors (also on the road on the back half of a quick back-to-back) in that span. Giannis has been his excellent self, and Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are starting to round into form. It’s not the full bill of health that we’d like, but we’re a far cry from the very shaky start to the year, all for the better.
The NBA’s 3s-and-Layups Cheat Code Is No More (The Ringer)
It was a slow week for Bucks-specific news, so we’ll toss in a couple NBA-wide bits for your reading pleasure, like this piece from Zach Kram. An interesting dive into the analytics of eFG%, shot selection quality, and just how homogeneity across the league in shot profiles means we’re all sort of starting back at square one. If most offenses in the NBA have adopted the same base offensive philosophy, the next question is who will be the first team to find the way to break things next? Can the Bucks, with their particular defense and smashing star big man be the team that threads the needle?
The Pacers are going to blow it up — hooray for trying to get off the NBA treadmill! Problem is, the return they may expect for some of their key pieces may disappoint. Not only are they working behind the eight ball having signaled the intention to send players out, but their particular pair of starting big men are hard to affix value towards. Both good players in their own rights, but not full-on stars, and in a world where big men of the second-tier have ever less value, what’s a good return? Guess the Pacers are going to try and find out.
Which, speaking of, it’s like Knox5 was reading my mind this week with the FPOTW winner, “Myles Turner”. I think the Lopez/Donte/Nwora(/picks?) for Turner configuration is about the best we could throw at Indiana, and I’m just not sure it’d make much sense for the Pacers. Never hurts to task just in case, but if Turner is on the move I’d expect it to be somewhere other than Milwaukee.
Know Your Enemy
I’m not sure where exactly one should expect the Celtics to be sitting at this point in the season, but 10th in the East feels about right. Maybe Tatum and Brown are a good enough one-two punch if Boston can add a decent third piece, but... maybe they aren’t?
- Indiana Pacers - Indy Cornrows - Ranking the news and noise surrounding the Pacers
For all the struggle I’ve had filling the MMMR this week, the folks over at Indy Cornrows have been dealing with a fire-hose like amount of news, rumors, and speculation around the near- and long-term future of the Pacers. Rebuilding does that to you.
- New Orleans Pelicans - The Bird Writes - New expectations on Zion Williamson’s return and rest of Pelicans 2021-22 season
At this rate, the Zion trade demand will be in by early next season. Has a fanbase gone from low (AD demanding out in all-time petulant fashion), to high (landing the top pick in the Zion sweepstakes), to low (Zion having multiple lower body injuries at age 21) in such quick succession as the Pelicans’?
- Cleveland Cavaliers - Fear the Sword - Cleveland Cavaliers rally in second half, but lose 112-104 to the Milwaukee Bucks
A tried and true MMMR strategy: If you’re playing a team two weeks in a row, just go dig up the latest post-game piece from the last time you played them to get a sense of how their fans reacted to that particular matchup.
The Social Media Section
Nothing but the most sincere best wishes to the Stoltz family
Hello friends. Today was my dad’s last day of chemo and radiation. Words can’t express how proud I am of him! pic.twitter.com/vX8ygCzwya— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) December 10, 2021
Zach Lowe going to elevate “Bucks Twitter” into a main character in NBA discourse
Zach Lowe had some thoughts on the latest Lowe Post about the folks on Bucks Twitter who don't think they need Myles Turner because of Brook Lopez— Bradshaw (@omgbradshaw) December 10, 2021
(proposed deal was Lopez/DiVincenzo/2nds) pic.twitter.com/3q1wLf6KY6
Myles, you’ll be a glorified role player here too, but you might get a shiny ring for the trouble
Myles Turner has morphed into one of the league’s best defenders.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 9, 2021
But his struggles to find a consistent role in the Pacers’ offense have made him increasingly frustrated with his situation in Indiana.
Exclusive with @JaredWeissNBA: https://t.co/UtpybfOqfl pic.twitter.com/z7GVe9jki2
Cool art in the city!
New mural in the City of Champions— Dan Shafer (@DanRShafer) December 8, 2021
(28th & Vliet) pic.twitter.com/EHVhfv0UUn
We’re going to start a conversation
Can they take Anthony Davis out of the NBA top 75?— Robin Lundberg (@robinlundberg) December 10, 2021
Wes held the fate of the entire city of Milwaukee on his shoulders here
After last night's game, Giannis showed us this video and told us about this.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 7, 2021
Essentially, Giannis told Wesley that he looked at least 42 years old. Then, Wesley gave Giannis a hard time about never responding to his texts and then Wesley showed Giannis how much he could lift. https://t.co/2cXSJhnlpF
Suit him up, he can be our fifth big man
The largest child in the world
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 18-10
Riley’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 15-13
If you count yesterday’s noon tip-off as part of this week, the Bucks will play something like five games in seven days. Once we get past this jam-packed week we’ll fall into a more regular three(ish) game a week rhythm.
Things begin tonight in Boston against the Celtics, move back to Milwaukee on Wednesday to host the Pacers (with Donte’s hopeful season debut), hit the road Friday to play in New Orleans against the Pelicans, and finish up again at home on Saturday against the Cavs. Plenty of games, yes, but we’re starting to really hum from the starting lineup down; put me in for a perfect week of play, retired janitor-style.