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Extended Forecast: Be Wary of Being Reactionary

A Closer Look at the Upcoming Two Weeks (or so) of the Season

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers
PJ Tucker Being Reactionary for His 76ers’ Squad
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Hi Milwaukee Bucks fans! Welcome back to of the Extended Forecast, where I will be taking a closer dive into the next two weeks of the Bucks’ season. What a great start to the season, am I right? Especially the start Giannis has had. I heard Mark Jones say he doesn’t know if we have seen the best Giannis version yet, and I think this is close, if not it. Wow.

Anyways, we started off with a statement win in Philadelphia to open our season, and followed it up with a blowout of lowly Houston. That proceeded into a nice win over a still-figuring-it-out Brooklyn team, but a game where everybody for them played. We then had three more home games, going through all of the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Detroit Pistons.

Here is how I did in this round of guessing how well the Bucks would do.

Julie’s Prediction: 4-2

Bucks’ Actual Record: 6-0

So, I was off by a few games already, but this time it was in a good way. The Bucks went undefeated for the first time since I have done this forecast, and already have a longer winning streak than at any point last season. I’m happy to be wrong if they do better than me! Moving into this forecast and the next few months of the season, as we saw what happened in the Detroit game, I want to caution fans that November will be the weirdest month of the basketball season, and December will be second. Do any of you remember the saying that the “season doesn’t begin until Christmas?” It’s true, and let’s take a look at last year’s Christmas Day standings.

If you don’t want to click the link, here are the standings without records:

EAST

Brooklyn, Chicago, Milwaukee, Miami, Cleveland, Washington, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto, Atlanta, New York, Indiana, Orlando, Detroit

WEST

Golden State, Phoenix, Utah, Memphis, LA Clippers, Denver, LA Lakers, Minnesota, Dallas, San Antonio, Portland, Sacramento, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Houston


Why am I doing this exercise? Because I want to make sure that you all remember as we go through a very competitive NBA season that the Bucks may not always look like themselves, may go through bumps, picking up bruises and injuries. And while they have started strong, by the time we get to Thanksgiving or even Christmas, they may not be looking as good. Boston and Dallas both made the Conference Finals last year, but each were in 9th place in December.

Looking at those standings, the West looked pretty much the same as it did in the playoffs, but look closer at the East. Aside from us and the bottom four, who else stayed near where they were by the end of the season? All of them moved at least three seeds away. So don’t fret this month if they hit a lull. If. Unfortunately, that also applies (but not quite as much) to how well they may do. The number one seed in the East hasn’t made the Finals since the 2015-16 season, including the two Bucks’ seasons before they won the Finals.

Before we get into the game-by-game breakdown, here is a quick summary of what’s ahead. The Bucks start off with game two of the back-to-back with the Pistons at home to conclude a six game homestand. They then take a quick trip to Minnesota for the toughest game of this forecast, followed by a quick stop back home against Oklahoma City. They then pack their bags for their first lengthy road trip, a three-gamer down south with Atlanta, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.

As for Bucks’ injuries, Joe Ingles will remain out until the New Year. Pat Connaughton is out until at least November 7th, And finally, Khris Middleton is working his way back, but he will for sure miss the first few of this forecast. Grayson Allen also got nicked up (knee contusion) in the first Detroit game, so he may miss a game or two for precautionary reasons.

As for the other team’s injuries (as of October 31st), Detroit will be without Marvin Bagley III as they have been all season and maybe rookie Jalen Duren will be out too. Minnesota has a few banged up players, but nothing more serious than “game time decisions” at this point. Oklahoma City is missing rookie second overall pick Chet Holmgren for the season, and have Josh Giddey on the report as questionable, so he could miss the game. Atlanta likely will have Bogdan Bogdanovic back by then, and San Antonio’s injury report at this point has a few “illness” designations, as well as rookie Blake Wesley will be out. Overall, no big absences are guaranteed aside from Holmgren.


Detroit Pistons

Wednesday, November 2nd
7:00 PM on Bally Sports WI

This is game two of a doubleheader with the Pistons, so I’m not sure how much game plan differences, as well as scheduled rest, might be put into this doubleheader. Detroit possibly is a team that may be watchable this season, since it has a very young back court in Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, both being top 5 selections in 2021 and 2022. The Pistons aren’t just excited about the back court, because they have some decent prospects everywhere starting with two-way wing Saddiq Bey, and big men Isaiah Stewart and rookie Jalen Duren (who might still be hurt). The Bojan Bogdanovic trade also weirdly shows that they think they are ready to come back to contention, but I think we all know that is not the case.

This team doesn’t scare me yet, but they might be able stay competitive against the Bucks sometime (relatively) soon. If Cade and Ivey can work out, and the rest of the team falls in line behind them, then the ceiling is starting to rise. But this should be penciled in as a win at the moment.

At Minnesota Timberwolves

Friday, November 4th
9:00 PM on ESPN & Bally Sports WI

Minnesota should be a good basketball team this season. Since we are still pretty new into the early season, I’m not going to read much into records in general and will go more based on what I feel like they will be. As posted above, the Christmas Day record of 2021 didn’t show much accuracy aside from the Bucks, and that included MInnesota. So, we should expect unstable yet talented organizations like Minnesota to continue to have some level of unpredictability.

With that said, they are very good on paper, at least at the top of the lineup. The twin towers of Karl-Anthony Towns and newcomer Rudy Gobert is a daunting duo that could cause problems for the Bucks. Could. They also have a young wing in Anthony Edwards who is looking to build on his stellar season in 2021-22 and possibly become the go-to option here if he isn’t already. D’Angelo Russell is among the better “fourth best players” in basketball. After that, the Timberwolves are a bit shaky, but this is a star-driven league and the Wolves have done a good job of accumulating stars.

I’m not scared of this team in general, but this could easily be a loss for the Bucks. With Pat and Khris still finding their way back, the pressure these first few weeks has been up front on Giannis, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis for the offensive output. This will be their biggest challenge to date when it comes to size and front court talent, and it is also their first “regular road game” since the other one was a season opener. I think we can assume the Bucks can beat anyone, but don’t be surprised here.

Oklahoma City Thunder

(Home) Saturday, November 5th
7:00 PM on Bally Sports WI
AND
(Road) Wednesday, November 9th
7:00 PM on Bally Sports, WI

What I think is unfortunate is that the Bucks are getting the season series with the Thunder out of the way when they are just trying to get their sea legs. This will be the first and last time I write about the Thunder in a preview setting, but in that sense I think getting the Thunder over with will be good. This is not a good basketball team, and are in a very similar spot to the Pistons (but with way more draft picks).

They have a young duo in the back court led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA) and Josh Giddey, and in my opinion this will be the better back court out of the Thunder/Pistons (I know, major hot take here). Chet Holmgren would have been a good compliment here, but he will be out for the season after getting hurt playing off-season basketball. The Thunder also have two rookie Williams’ with the first name “Jalen” and “Jaylin”, so that’s confusing, and they have a third Williams (Kenrich) as well.

Look, this team is among the youngest in basketball, and frankly could have some spunk to them by the time February or so rolls around. So maybe it is a blessing after all that we get them out of the way before they start to gain confidence on the court, because the young guns in their back court, as well as players like Alexsei Pokusevski, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley and all the Williams’ could start to heat up. This is still a growing pains time, however, for the Thunder.

At Atlanta Hawks

Monday, November 7th
7:15 PM on Bally Sports, WI

This is the start of the first true road trip of the season (meaning more than one game) with Atlanta leading off a trip that includes game two against Oklahoma City and then ends in San Antonio. After the game against the Hawks, I think you can understand why I stated last time that it would be the biggest test of the first forecast and why I was more nervous about them than the Heat in the preseason. Partially due to the schedule this time, the Hawks will be the biggest test here as well, but also because it’s a good way to see how they adjust to a team they have already played.

Based on that game, if we don’t have Khris for it, I would guess this one might be a possible loss on the schedule. Aside from the Timberwolves game, the Bucks are the clear, clear, CLEAR, favorite in every other game besides this one. The Hawks have a good team, and they are easy to forget with Boston, Philadelphia, Miami? and Brooklyn (LMAO) in the same conference, but this may be one that we may see a lot more of in April or May if you know what I mean.

At San Antonio Spurs

Friday, November 11th
7:00 PM on Bally Sports, WI

If you thought the Pistons and Thunder look like bad teams on paper, wait until you see what San Antonio has in store. Are you ready for Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl and Devin Vassell to take on the Bucks? Are any of those guys realistic third options on a contending team at this point? Maybe Johnson is, but man this team is bad looking.

Look, the Spurs are clearly trying to find diamonds in the rough and trade away veterans like Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson and even Jakob Poeltl for the most possible, but right now, this team just doesn’t have the guns to be competitive. I’m not saying they are as bad as the 76ers in the tank era they had, but I just don’t see anything here that is exciting. If the Bucks lose this game, this is one to circle back to and think that it cost us seeding. There is no reason we shouldn’t win, assuming we get 10 minutes of Giannis. I don’t care that the Spurs went on the road to beat Philadelphia, at this point that is a massive fluke and shouldn’t be taken seriously this early in the season.


Julie’s Prediction: 5-1

I think we lose to the Hawks or the Timberwolves, or maybe one of these teams sneaks their way to get a win and that’s how we get the loss. It’s just hard to go undefeated during a stretch, so I rarely will ever pick it. I will say that looking ahead, this appears to be our “easiest” stretch of two weeks, with the other being in early December. That one has New York, the Lakers, Charlotte, Orlando, Houston, Sacramento and the challenging one in there is Dallas. That seems like there are more traps though than this one. So the Bucks need to gather up a cushion while they can, because the schedule won’t always be this easy on paper. Because once we get through the 2022 portion of the schedule, then we may see what this team is really made of.

Poll

What Will the Buck’s Record Be During This Stretch?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    6-0 (Undefeated Baby!!!!!!!!)
    (62 votes)
  • 29%
    5-1 (Julie’s Correct Prediction)
    (65 votes)
  • 41%
    4-2 (San Antonio, Detroit or OKC are better than anticipated)
    (92 votes)
  • 1%
    3-3 or worse (Are you really voting here? This is Brew Hoop, not Acme Packing Company)
    (3 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now