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Extended Forecast: Thank Goodness for the All-Star Break

That Was a Rough End to the First Three Quarters (not half)

Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Being Guarded by Tobias Harris
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Welcome to the latest addition of Brew Hoop’s Extended Forecast, where the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves back in the contention conversation. This is 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 easiest 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?

Hi Bucks’ Fans! Before checking out the forecast, don’t forget to head on over and look at my grades for my preseason predictions at the halfway 34 mark of the season. I’m not sure why the NBA keeps thinking it is the halfway point, but with only four more forecasts in the season, it’s that time of year to really check in on the playoff watch. With the amount of time left in the season, I would say the Bucks are within range from the one to eight seed, which is kind of crazy to me. The nine seed is seven games away, which seems a bit far even with our remaining schedule difficulty. But first, let’s review the semi-disastrous end to the first, much larger part of the season.

Starting off the forecast was a nice win over the Lakers, who were at full strength at the time (now they will be without Anthony Davis again, and it seems over for that team). We then got blown out by Phoenix ending the road trip, and somehow we all missed that the All-Star break was not after the Phoenix game. We then lost to Portland, which should not have happened at all, at home. Speaking of, how is Portland winning with basically Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons? We then got a 50-point game from the Greek Freak against the Pacers, and that smudged us by for a win. The forecast ended with a nail-biting loss to Philadelphia, to put us at 2-3 when I said 3-2. Here’s my prediction vs. the Bucks’ record.

Julie’s Prediction: 40-20 (which would be enough for first)

The Bucks’ Record: 36-24

Before I say that my prediction was 3-2 and off by one game, the vast majority of you were even higher. 48% of you said 4-1, and 14% thought we would go undefeated with Phoenix and Philadelphia on the schedule. I won’t blame you for being optimistic, but only 5% of the readers were correct in guessing 2-3. However, I bet amongst those voters, none of them thought we would lose at home to Portland, which is what I blame this on. So, if we had beaten Minnesota, Detroit and Portland at home, I would be one game off and the Bucks would be in first. I’m bringing that up for those who say a loss to a bad team is no big deal.

So what’s coming up for the Bucks? Since the All-Star break is giving everyone a few more days off, this forecast is going to be shorter again. We start off finishing the six-game homestand with a game against Brooklyn, and who knows who will be playing for them this time around. We finish the homestand wrapping up the season series with Charlotte and the first-place Miami Heat, which is a good ground-making-up-game. We then have a quick road trip down to the Windy City with only our second game against the Bulls, and then have a rematch with none other than the Phoenix Suns. During the first part of the forecast, we will be without George Hill, Duke Boy, and newcomer DeAndre Bembry. Pat Connaughton and Brook Lopez will miss the entire forecast. Now, it’s time for a closer look.

Brooklyn on February 26th

Brooklyn made that trade with Philadelphia that we all know about, and it will be tough to know for sure who is playing. After that long losing streak, Brooklyn got a couple of wins before losing again, so they are out of their slump. But, they are also a bit indecisive as to who is going to play, and that I think is the biggest factor here. Kevin Durant will be out for this game, and Ben Simmons is also listed as “out” at this point. I guess switching teams doesn’t stop him from being whatever he was being. Kyrie Irving should play since we don’t have vaccine mandates here. Brooklyn also will be without Joe Harris, and probably James Johnson as well. They still have some big names on this team, but it’s not the same with just Kyrie.

Patty Mills is the qualifying scoring leader at 13 points per game, but Durant, Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge are all ahead of him. If you look at ESPN’s stats, it says that James Harden is the leader in all five major categories, which is kind of funny. According to qualifying leaders, Mills also leads in assists, Blake Griffin in rebounds, and Bruce Brown in blocks and steals. Irving, Aldridge and Seth Curry are leaders in those categories if you exclude KD. Basically, this is a mess to navigate.

Charlotte on February 28th

The Hornets are the nine seed right now, and are one of those teams that is likely just going to hang around for a while. They have not been as messy as the Nets as far as who has played and stuff, but they are two games under .500. I like the trade deadline pickup of Montrezl Harrell for the bench, and think that is a really underrated move that nobody is talking about. He is part of a six-headed group of players that average over 15 points per game, and all have played in more games than Patty Mills (except Harrell). This team is no slouch anymore.

LaMelo Ball leads in points, assists and steals, and PJ Washington leads in blocks, which is an area of concern in Charlotte. Mason Plumlee leads in rebounding, but four people average within one rebound of the leaderboard. Gordon Hayward, Jalen McDaniels and Cody Martin are all out until “at least February 25th”, and that could impact the forward depth here.

Miami March 2nd

When you look at the calendar in the beginning of the season and see a back-to-back with the best teams in the East, you don’t think it will be Miami and Chicago. Likely, you would have been concerned with the Philadelphia-Brooklyn back-to-back we technically just had (from here, not currently). Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry form a “big four” and part of why I was so down on this team early in the year is because I thought that was basically all they had. Sure, Duncan Robinson and PJ Tucker are fine role players, but nobody thought Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and two-way player Caleb Martin would be this good. Miami is for real, in a sense that they lived up to expectations.

Victor Oladipo should still be out for this one, but as for the rest of the injuries it is TBD. Markieff Morris has consistently been out, and they usually tend to have somebody sitting. If they were qualifiers, Butler and Adebayo would lead in scoring, blocks and rebounding. But, scoring goes to Herro, and blocks and rebounds goes to Dewayne Dedmon. Lowry leads in assists and steals.

@Chicago March 4th

I’m still not taking them seriously, and I don’t care how good their record is. I gave them a chance to beat the Bucks and I’ll take them serious in the Duke-Caruso game, but they blew it. They have injuries that are to their (arguably) three best players outside of their big three in Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams, so that could cause a bit of a downslide. Could. Meanwhile, they still are playing well and getting some decent contributions from deeper bench players on the roster. Coby White is playing well enough after his injury to push Ball and Caruso for minutes. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are both averaging over 25 points per game, which is pretty rare. And Nikola Vucevic is averaging about 18 and 12 as the lone big man. Actually, not anymore, since the Pacers let Tristan Thompson go and now they finally have a backup for Vucevic.

I’ve already mentioned the injuries, and they all should be out for sure for this one. DeRozan leads in scoring at 28 per game, and also leads in assists. Vucevic is also the leader in blocks and rebounds, and technically in steals (but Ball and Caruso would be).

Phoenix March 6th

The Bucks looked fine during the first part of the game, but after a while Phoenix just ran away with it. They tend to do that to everyone, not just the Bucks, and it’s kind of looking like we might need to go through them to be NBA Champions once again. Will they be tougher? Technically, I don’t know. I feel like it though. Phoenix seems to have our number in the regular season, they were the only team we didn’t beat in Budenholzer’s first season, and they were one of the worst teams in basketball that year. What a quick turnaround.

Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric will be out for sure. s for everyone else, it’s up for debate. They have the same leaders as last time, with Devin Booker leading in scoring, Chris Paul in assists and steals, and JaVale McGee technically leading in rebounds and blocks, although it really belongs to DeAndre Ayton. No surprises here, just really good basketball.

Julie’s Prediction: 3-2

I would probably have gone with 2-3, but with having four home games plus the rough end to that last forecast, I am doubling down on my 3-2 prediction. I think the clear win of this group is, well, no one, and the clear loss is, well, no one. The Bucks can win any of these games and lose any of these games, but with the depth shot again and Jordan Nwora playing 35 minutes in a game when Giannis is available, it’s troubling. Somehow, I think they will get through it on top though, and I think I’m actually being too optimistic here. But, thank goodness they got a break, because like many teams, they were limping into it. What do you think? Vote and comment below!

Poll

What Do You Think the Bucks’ Record Will Be Over the Next 5 Games?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    4-1 or 5-0 (We Have 4 Home Games, So I’m Being Extra Optimistic)
    (65 votes)
  • 35%
    3-2 (Julie’s *Correct* Prediction, with Cautious Optimism)
    (71 votes)
  • 26%
    2-3 (With the Way They Have Played, This Should Happen)
    (52 votes)
  • 6%
    0-5 or 1-4 (Nwora Is Now Playing 35 Minutes Every Game...)
    (12 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now