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, covid-19 cases, etc, but in general we still should have an idea of what is coming. Or not?
Is the beauty of basketball the unpredictability? That on any given night, a team can rise up and defeat any team. Or is it just the most frustrating thing in the world? If you are a Pistons’ fan and you actually watched that game, it’s the former. If you are a Bucks’ fan, and likely most of you are, (if not all) it is incredibly frustrating. I’m done whining about that Timberwolves’ game, this is the game now that I’m stuck on. I don’t care if we beat Brooklyn. I don’t care that we had a six game winning streak prior to that game. We should be able to beat them with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jordan Nwora and the UW-Milwaukee Panthers. That is the worst loss of the season and since we swept Orlando, nothing will come close! It honestly made me almost vomit, DETROIT? *sigh*
As for the rest of the forecast, I was correct that the start of it would get us on a roll. Going through banged up Orlando and New Orleans was nice to pad the record, since we had a couple of challenging games to follow with Detroit and Toronto. Sarcasm for sure there, just to be clear. We then beat a relatively full strength Nets’ team to take us to 4-2 in the forecast, heading into Charlotte for another doubleheader. The first game didn’t go well, in spite of a 40-point effort from Giannis. The second game I watched on an elliptical while training to be the next COVID call-up, and when LaMelo Ball banks in threes, you know it’s not your night. So, they lost four out of five after the six-game winning streak to go 4-4 in the forecast. I guess, as I said last time, we in fact DID NOT escape the threshold of Hell when Giannis, Middleton, et. al went down.
Jon’s Projected 2021-22 Record: 30-13
Bucks’ Actual 2021-22 Record: 26-17
Upcoming, this is a shorter portion of the schedule due to the Charlotte series extending into Monday, but besides that I’m not quite sure how to think of these upcoming games that take us through six games in nine days. We have Golden State at home to start, followed by another home game against our apparent nemesis, the Toronto Raptors. We then have a road game with a relatively bad Hawks’ team that has been decimated by injuries as bad as anyone. After the short road trip, we have a home game with Memphis, whose record is better than that of the Bucks, so they should not be thought of as the pre-Ja Morant/post-Zach Randolph Grizzlies. We then have the (still) first place Chicago Bulls, and finish off the homestand with the, in my opinion, underachieving Sacramento Kings. I just really don’t know what to make of this portion of the schedule, especially after the Detroit loss. Players entering the COVID health and safety protocols should be done for a while, since we added Thanasis, Nwora, Duke Boy, Connaughton, Holiday and Hill to the group of Giannis, Portis, Middleton, Matthews, Ojeleye and DiVincenzo. So, they shouldn’t be having another outbreak for a while, right? That’s 12 guys. Rodney Hood, Mamu, Javonte Smart, and Luke Kornet left over? Okay, panic time if that happens. Also, Brook Lopez will still be out. So, let’s dive into the forecast for the middle of January.
Golden State January 13th
Golden State is one of the best teams in the NBA once again, and this time they are showing they do not need Kevin Durant to be a championship contender. All-time three-point leader Stephen Curry is playing like an MVP again, and they have done most/all of this without fellow All-Star guard Klay Thompson and their only true center in James Wiseman. They haven’t needed him, with players like Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole (relatively surprisingly) averaging over 18 points per game. Draymond Green is of course, still doing Draymond Green things (although he might miss the game), and Milwaukee native Kevon Looney is actually the only player to play in and start every game this season to this point. Depth is a strength here, with no regular roster player (due to all the 10-day signings) that I would consider to be a “bad player.”
Curry is among NBA leaders in scoring, and leads the team in steals by a small margin. He leads over Draymond Green, who is the team leader in rebounds, assists, and shot blocking. The rotational balance they have around Curry is what has been helping them do well on both offense and defense. As for injuries, James Wiseman is for sure out, but Klay Thompson has returned. With that said, I would not expect much from him if he doesn’t get a scheduled off day. In theory, they could be without Draymond, Klay and Wiseman.
Toronto January 16th
Okay, okay, okay. I was wrong about the Raptors, possibly. They were 19-17 after our game with Brooklyn, and are third in the division ahead of counterparts like Boston and New York. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are the most underrated trio in the NBA. Everything is going well for the Raptors, which makes them a fringe playoff team and a possible upset maker. Nick Nurse is still there, and the defense against Giannis that they famously employed in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals is still happening. They have a good rotation, and all five of their starters are averaging at least 15 points per game. This team is legit, and I am done slighting them (watch them suck from here out…).
VanVleet leads in points and assists, and Siakam also scores over 20. Rookie Scottie Barnes is the rebounding leader, and Gary Trent Jr. is still among steals leaders in the NBA. Shot blocking could be better, and Chris Boucher leads them there. Trent Jr. and Barnes are on the injury report, but just as questionable for the game prior to our matchup with them.
@Atlanta January 17th
Atlanta has had a massive battle with COVID-19, and the Bucks are not getting the good fortune of playing them for a rematch in Atlanta when they are down. That’s okay, because this team is still banged up somewhat, even without the virus, so we still may not get the Hawks at full strength. They have fallen considerably under .500, but this is still a very good basketball team, and I do believe they are more of a threat than the Heat and the Bulls at this point. That could change in a month or so, but for now, they are still in it and have proven they can be threatening.
Trae Young is Trae Young, and currently he is averaging more than Curry in scoring. John Collins has also re-established himself this season as Young’s running mate, and Clint Capela has done a great job of dunking, rebounding, and blocking. As far as injuries go, Solomon Hill and DeAndre Hunter are out, while Capela, Cam Reddish and Gorgui Dieng are on the report as of 1/10/2022 as “questionable.”
Memphis January 19th
Memphis is having a great season, and the fact that they are where they are (as one of the four good teams in the West) with Desmond Bane as their qualifying scoring leader is remarkable. The Steven Adams for Jonas Valanciunas switch was not a total disaster like I thought it would be, and they also don’t miss the player they traded to us for Sam Merrill (a reminder that I don’t bring him up due to his role with Duke and the Badgers). In other words, this team is more than just Ja Morant, but man, he has been showing the world that he might really be the best player in his class and not Zion. Memphis is also a relatively deep team, and they have a young roster so you can expect good things from Memphis in the future.
Ja Morant is the true scoring leader at over 25 per game when playing, and maybe he qualifies now, but Desmond Bane “technically” leads at this point. He’s also behind Dillon Brooks, who is out again with an ankle injury. Ja also would be the assist leader, but that goes to Tyus Jones officially. Jaren Jackson Jr. leads in blocks, Adams in rebounds, and De’Anthony Melton in steals. Like I said, depth and a lot of solid players. Memphis also might be starting a COVID situation, but I won’t speculate. If you want to know, the players at this point in protocols are just Steven Adams and Yves Pons.
Chicago January 21st
I’ll admit that if the Bucks lose this game to the Bulls that the Bulls are for real. They are in first place, and that is a very impressive thing and they are proving me wrong at this point. Lonzo Ball is actually playing good basketball, DeMar DeRozan might be having his best season ever, and even the lack of depth I thought they had is proving not to be an issue. Patrick Williams was lost early in the season too, and they still are in first. They were the first team to have a major COVID-19 outbreak, and that only helped them find contributors like Alfonzo McKinnie. Also, where the heck did Javonte Green come from?
DeRozan and Zach LaVine form a very strong duo, and they both average over 26 points per game or so for the Bulls. Nikola Vucevic is a very good number three option, and due to being the only big here I think he is crucial for their success. I actually think LaVine might be their best player, but he doesn’t lead in any categories. DeRozan has points, Vucevic has rebounds and blocks, Ball has assists and Alex Caruso has steals. Patrick Williams will be out for most of the season, and Alex Caruso is battling an injury, along with Tyler Cook and Javonte Green.
Sacramento January 22nd
I really did believe in the Kings this time. This is the best team they have had since DeMarcus Cousins was here (why did we dump him for Luke Kornet by the way???), and they are squandering yet again. They are not the best worst team in the division, the Atlantic holds that title, but they are playing somewhat solid basketball for a “postseason push”. They have a good eight man rotation, but as head coach Alvin Gentry said, they need to live up to their potential to play better. I think that’s obvious, but I also saw that they probably should just try and tank again instead of breaking (unofficially in my opinion) their playoff drought unless they actually can hit the eight seed.
De’Aaron Fox, who is a hidden gem in the NBA, leads in scoring. Richaun Holmes leads in rebounds and blocks, and Tyrese Haliburton, yes the one from Oshkosh, leads in steals and assists. Holmes, Damian Jones and Tristan Thompson are all on the injury report, but they don’t have anything listed beyond a week before this game is scheduled to be played.
Jon’s Prediction: 3-3
So the Bucks had more losses than I projected, and a big reason why is the Detroit loss. Many of you voted 7-1 or 8-0, and while I love the optimism, I don’t think that’s realistic of an expectation to have in any portion of the schedule. There are three teams here that are on better than us with their record, Golden State, Chicago and Memphis, and then when you throw in our nemesis, the Toronto Raptors, as well as the Hawks, I would be grateful with .500. I do believe the Bucks can do better than that, but the Detroit loss has me shook, and if they do better than what I project that helps me get back to .500 on the season. So, part of it is selfish (I have them four games better than they are), but now I also realistically think getting .500 in this stretch is not that bad, even with all the home games. What do you guys think? Vote and comment below.
What Do You Think The Bucks’ Record Will Be Over The Next Six Games?
This poll is closed
5-1 or 6-0 (Jon Makes Up Ground)
4-2 (Realistic But Challenging)
3-3 (Jon’s Prediction)
2-4 (Not THAT Bad, Considering the Detroit Loss)
0-6 or 1-5 (Umm...What?)