If there has been a unifying theme during Milwaukee’s latest 2-5 slide over their last 7 games, it is how quiet the bench staff has been in our losses. Raw PPG is not a true measure of anything, but you do ideally need someone not named Giannis, Khris, Jrue, or Bobby scoring to help tide over the minutes when they’re resting. Consider the bench scoring from those losses:
Loss v. Detroit: 19 bench points (9 of which were from Boogie)
Loss v. Toronto: 34 bench points (15 from Boogie, 10 from Sandro)
Loss @ Charlotte: 5 bench points (Sandro)
Loss @ Charlotte: 10 bench points
Loss v. Toronto: 16 bench points
I’m not even saying this is indicative of some long-term trend as the substitute group has been as in flux as the starting unit. But it does drive home just how much is falling on the shoulders of those starters who are available. Khris has upped his shooting splits to .461/.477/.917 over that stretch of 7 games, but is still only getting ~15 shots up on average. Bobby Portis has started to really come on offensively, yet some of the rebounding technique leaves a lot to be desired on both ends thus sullying the shine of his play.
What I’m trying to say is so long as the rotation remains as fluid as it currently is, the first-order and second-order effects are bound to handicap how high we can climb in the standings. Winning in the regular season is more of a total team effort, and as of the past two weeks the effort is AWOL. Thankfully, that’s the case for a lot of other teams around the league, too.
That parable of the unstoppable force meeting an immovable object finds maybe its clearest personification as Mike Budenholzer and Taylor Jenkins duel each other’s coachspeak.
The Bucks are reinventing themselves on defense again (Basketballnews)
A combination of film, statistics, and explanations behind that “blitzing/hedging” defense Milwaukee has been trotting out this year. I appreciate the philosophy behind the set, though do wonder if better-staffed teams with time to consider a solution will figure it out over the course of a series. That’s when you hit them with the zone, I guess.
How Giannis Antetokounmpo serves as another potential problem for the Warriors down the line (Golden State of Mind)
I’m always so-so on these discussions about taking results from the regular season and extrapolating them into some future scenario where you then meet that team in the Finals. But what is true for the Warriors — that they lack the kind of depth at interior defender to halt Giannis — is true for a lot of teams, playoff contender or no. Rare are the Torontos of the world with eight interchangeable guys of similar size and length with the coaching discipline to keep a lid on Giannis.
Power Rankings Notebook: Giannis thriving at center & MVP Ladder: Giannis Antetokounmpo stands tall in crucial victory (NBA.com)
The Bucks may have gone 1-2 this week, but they got the 1 in the most meaningful of the trio of games. Plus, when Giannis is having a good week, aren’t the Bucks by extension also having a good week? With Steph Curry on a long slump, if Milwaukee can get its act together and make a real run for the one seed in the East, maybe a third MVP award isn’t that far out of reach.
Passion is one thing, but erudition? Turns out we have that in gobs around these parts. We thank stoneAge for highlighting how well-read the commentariat is with “January 2022 Book Review: The Way of Energy”. I especially love how quickly the likes of G may, OR, and Dawg’s were able to take stoneAge’s review and connect it to basketball team-building philosophy. That’s what it is all about.
Funnily enough, I’m finding myself connecting Mike Budenholzer’s relations with referees in particular juxtaposed to Charles de Gaulle’s style of bluster and concession in the early days of the Free French. According to the biography I’m reading, “A Certain Idea of France”, de Gaulle was fond of melodramatically blowing his top when faced with an impasse, and then returning to the situation 2-3 days later with a more amiable demeanor to cash in on the tension he’d ratcheted up. Not that I’m suggesting Budenhozler enact a Gaullist relationship with the league’s refs, but a little gamesmanship can be useful in a number of different fields.
Know Your Enemy
- Atlanta Hawks - Peachtree Hoops - Hawks trade Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill to Knicks for Kevin Knox, protected first-round pick
The Hawks are in a weird spot. They haven’t won a home game since November, but they’ve also probably led the league in games lost to Covid. An ECF success story last year (with Cam Reddish playing an unexpectedly significant part in), they’re now shuffling the deckchairs as they sit 4.5 games out of a play-in spot. Knowing us, we’ll help them break their home loss streak tonight.
On the other end of the spectrum we’ve got the Grizzlies. A young team who seem to be putting it all together for the first time at a sustained stretch, and one who provides plenty of fireworks along the way. Riding out of the peak of a rebuilding cycle is always the best part of these journeys.
It is my eternal shame that I seem to have a weekly segment that shares elements with something the Bulls bloggers are doing. Mea culpa, and please for God’s sake let’s win this one for bragging rights purposes.
- Sacramento Kings - Sactown Royalty - De’Aaron Fox says Kings still have ‘something to play for’
That’s right, the Kings players do have something to play for: The right to be recognized as a player worth trading for so you can get off Sacramento’s perpetually sinking ship. Its actually amazing that the rebuild continues apace in California’s capital.
The Social Media Section
I’ll be honest... if the play in 2022 is any suggestion, we may need new supplements
Small reminder how disturbing the Giannis-to-Warriors yearning was prior to the Superman
Warriors fans watching Giannis and the Bucks make another postseason exit: pic.twitter.com/GcZitTXIDm— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 9, 2020
The most humble guy in basketball will retire the most prolific winner in the sport’s history, then give a shoutout to Thanasis as the better player
This gone be giannis at the end talking bout, "I'm barely top 30" pic.twitter.com/xjuVSMyUgR— Dom2K (@Dom_2k) January 14, 2022
The perpetually in-flux Bucks are doing well in spite of lost game time
Never fun losing to Raptors…but here’s good context for how successful this season has been despite all the absences https://t.co/hJViA9wmlm— Adam Robert Paris (@adamrparis) January 16, 2022
Would love to see RB Bobby Portis one day
Giannis on Bud's absence: "I enjoyed it," he joked with a smile.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 14, 2022
Antetokounmpo, after saying that:— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) January 14, 2022
"He's going to be mad." https://t.co/7KBlgN1dSt
We wish Javonte the nicest of days
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 27-18
Riley’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 24-21
Rileystradamus? I present evidence from last week’s MMMR: “Give me another topsy-turvy 1-2 week with the win coming against the Warriors. Giannis will do well again on the biggest stage staking another claim to another MVP trophy, if things go according to plan.”
I rest my case.
Unfortunately for my predictive capabilities, I’m not sure we have that marquee game the Bucks will assuredly win while losing any other gimmes. We’ve got four outings on the docket, starting tonight on the road against the Hawks before coming back to Milwaukee for a mini-home stand Wednesday against the Grizzlies, Friday against the Bulls, and Saturday against the Kings. I actually think we might get our stuff together for the first time in a bit and go perfect this week, especially if Jrue Holiday makes his way back from an ankle injury. Even without him, Giannis/Khris just need some life from the supporting cast to get us over the top a few times.