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Extended Forecast: Escaping the Threshold into the New Year

That was a scary past few weeks...

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo Finally Returned
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Welcome to the latest addition of Brew Hoop’s Extended Forecast, where the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves back around contention. 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?

Okay, so, about the last forecast. I’m not even getting into what went wrong or right, and I think nobody would have been able to predict that happening to the Milwaukee Bucks. That was about as close as we can get to the threshold of Hell, without actually getting there. I thought we might actually be going there after that first half of the Christmas Day game against Boston, but luckily for the Bucks we were able to get out of that scott-free. And now we should be at full strength, heading into this forecast.

As far as Covid-19 goes concerning the Bucks, I’m not exactly sure what the rules are for when you can re-enter protocols, but all of the most important Bucks have been in them within the past 12 months (aside from Brook Lopez, who’s out anyway). That includes Giannis, Middleton, Holiday, Portis, Allen, Cousins, Connaughton and DiVincenzo. I am hopeful that Giannis, Middleton, Portis, Matthews, and Donte will not be impacted for quite some time, and the other four were in protocol last season. Either way, it’s good news that four starting-caliber players are (theoretically) not likely to re-enter the protocols for at least a few months. Fingers crossed.

Here is the record vs. my prediction after suggesting a 5-2 record last time:

Bucks’ 2021-22 Record: 22-13

Jon’s 2021-22 Prediction: 24-11

Heading into this forecast and all future forecasts, I will not be analyzing and speculating who will and will not be in protocol. Essentially, I will pretend that nobody is in protocol, and assume teams will be at full strength aside from normal injuries. That’s simplest.

Now, with regard to this forecast, this is a really good stretch for getting us back on track. We start off with two games in Orlando with a day off in between, which is very nice timing with the holidays and the illness going around. Following that is a three game homestand, against some pretty “easy” competition. We have the New Orleans Pelicans, who took advantage of our disaster of a week. Following that, we have Toronto who is much better than expected but still not great, and then Detroit who is the worst team in basketball and without their best player. After that, we have a three game road trip, starting in Brooklyn and then having another double header in Charlotte (it goes beyond two weeks, but to simplify I will extend the forecast by one extra day). Let’s dive in deeper to this.

@Orlando December 28th & 30th

I didn’t miss it this time, we have a back-to-back in Orlando. Orlando has been a complete disaster this season, like I predicted they would be, and frankly it wasn’t a hard prediction. Even if Markelle Fultz and/or Jonathan Isaac played the whole season, they would still be bad. This team has battled injuries like no other, including the Bucks, and only three players have played in every game to this point. Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba have been the consistent three in the lineup this season, for most games at least, and that is why this team is where it is. I’ve seen trade rumors about the Bucks getting Bamba and Terrence Ross, which might not be an awful deal depending on who they give up. Regardless, this team is just awful, and around 20 games under .500 already. It’s too bad we don’t have more games with them.

When Cole Anthony plays, he has been a rare bright spot for this team, with about 20 points and 6 assists per game. Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Michael Carter-Williams, E’Twaun Moore and Jalen Suggs are guaranteed to miss both of these games.

New Orleans January 1st

I know I don’t mention Covid-19, but it appears New Orleans’ is starting to have an outbreak. So, keep that in mind. They got us without Middleton, Giannis, Portis, DiVincenzo and more, and we still almost went down to New Orleans to beat them. The Pelicans aren’t a great team, but the big three of Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Ingram and Devonte Graham are a solid trio with a varying skill set. They are still the third worst team in the West, and Willy Hernangomez still leads the team in PER. Depth is also present, I wouldn’t call it a strength because the team is not good, but they have depth and play a lot of players. I’m not worried about them this time around.

Zion Williamson will be out for this game, as well as Kira Lewis Jr. Not much has changed as far as leaderboards and stats since the last forecast.

Toronto January 3rd

I don’t understand how the Raptors are doing this well. They are still under .500, but just one game as of Christmas Day. Everything is basically going as good as expected for this team, aside from a recent outbreak, so I guess this makes some sense in that regard. They have five players scoring between 15 points and 20 points, so they are formidable offensively. It’s a very weird team, with a lot of players that aren’t nationally recognizable, and that’s probably why they flew under the radar. I give Masai Ujiri a ton of credit for keeping them relevant to this point.

Fred VanVleet leads currently in points and assists, rookie Scottie Barnes in rebounds and blocks, and Gary Trent Jr. leads in steals. Goran Dragic likely won’t play due to not wanting to be in Toronto.

Detroit January 5th

Detroit is awful. It’s really too bad they aren’t always on the schedule. Star Jerami Grant, if you want to call him a star, will be out. Kelly Olynyk is also battling injuries, but he should be available by this time. Even with them, this should be an easy one for the Bucks, and I am not concerned at all. I’m not wasting more time with this game.

@Brooklyn January 7th

Even with the massive outbreak in Brooklyn, the Nets are still the best team by record in the East. They also have been without Kyrie Irving all season. I believe this has been the first game we have played against them since the opener, and they are enjoying a renaissance season from LaMarcus Aldridge off the bench. Patty Mills has also been outstanding, and James Harden has been doing well in other aspects aside from scoring. Kevin Durant is still Kevin Durant, and the depth on this team is very strong. Overall, this looks like the best team in basketball, even without the best record.

Since this game is in New York City, Kyrie Irving won’t be able to play without the vaccine. Durant is battling an injury, and Joe Harris is going to be out until at least January 1st, so he might miss this game. Regardless, it’s still going to be a tough one.

@ Charlotte January 8th and 10th

Charlotte has been continuing to hover around .500, and has been fortunate with injuries to this point. Miles Bridges is starting to drop down in the scoring column and coming back down to reality, but is still having a nice season. LaMelo Ball is the engine that gets this team going, and the two veterans from Boston in Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier give them a formidable four starters. Since this is a back-to-back and Charlotte hasn’t had a huge outbreak (yet), it’s really tough to predict what will be going on for these games, but I like the Bucks’ chances.

Jon’s Prediction: 6-2

I think that the Bucks are going to use this soft schedule to get back on track. After the way that game went against Boston, that is just the momentum we need. Now, back at full strength, and with two games against Orlando to start the forecast, I see that helping. Then we add in New Orleans and Detroit in that mix with Toronto sandwiched in between, it’s not unreasonable to assume an eight-game winning streak. I think losing to Brooklyn should be penciled in, as well as one of the two in Charlotte. So, I’m going with 6-2, what do you think? Are we going to get back on track? Comment and vote below.

Poll

What Will the Bucks’ Record Be This Forecast?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    7-1 or 8-0 (The Champs Are Back)
    (128 votes)
  • 29%
    6-2 (Jon’s Prediction)
    (60 votes)
  • 5%
    4-4 or 5-3 (What Team(s) Screwed This Up)
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    3-5 (Back in the Threshold)
    (3 votes)
202 votes total Vote Now