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, and Wisconsin fans in general! So, looking ahead to the final three forecasts of the regular season, this is the “easiest” one on the schedule. Unlike the last forecast where we had four home games out of five games, this one has five road games out of six games. BUT, we have Oklahoma City and Sacramento as two of them. Technically, all of these road games are in the “Western” Conference, but I mean, would anybody consider Oklahoma and Minnesota in the West? And on that topic, isn’t Memphis and New Orleans east of us? Whatever. Back to basketball...we also have our last game with the Hawks, who are hanging around the playoff mix, but haven’t cemented themselves in or out yet. Plus, we have a revenge opportunity with Minnesota. So, we have a very good chance at guaranteeing at least a .500 record during this time. The reason why the guarantees stop there is due to a pair of games, one day apart, that includes time zone shifting. Both of these teams also have a better record than the Bucks: the Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors. So with five road games out west, this perceivably easy stretch becomes that much more challenging.
As for how the last forecast went, the Bucks lost at home to Brooklyn. Brooklyn did not play Kevin Durant, and I don’t care if they played their new acquisition or not. Also, I can’t believe they let Jevon Carter and DeAndre Bembry go for him to be honest, but we lost regardless. We then blew out the Hornets at home. Following that, we had a game with the Heat that I believe really put a lot of confidence into the fan base with how they played down the stretch. And, this helped the Bucks, I think anyway, get past the Bulls in another close finish and win. We finished off at home with a rematch against the Suns, who were without Chris Paul, and with Devin Booker battling COVID-19.
Let’s see how I did vs. the Bucks record before we get into the game-by-game breakdowns. I suggested the Bucks would go 3-2, and they went 4-1. I will credit the Suns for not having Chris Paul, Devin Booker and others available, since that was wayyy closer than it should be. But, it caused the Bucks to gain one game back on the overall predictions (and you think I’m not optimistic).
Julie’s 2021-22 Record Prediction: 43-22
The Bucks’ Actual Record: 40-25
@Oklahoma City March 8th
The Thunder are one of those teams who are, well, looking to 2023. Not just because of the pandemic, but because they are going to be able to go on the biggest shopping spree in NBA history, should they so choose. Even with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander adding a massive extension to the books, the Thunder still have plenty of wiggle room for the future. I’m talking about this because the Thunder are just no match for the Bucks, and really shouldn’t be in contention in this one. I don’t care to talk about stats or injuries here, because they don’t matter unless the Bucks just give up.
An interesting fact though, remember all of those players like Moose who came back from the dead to play this season? The Thunder are still paying three notable former players (next season too) who didn’t even get to come back. Raymond Felton, Norris Cole and Nick Collison. Just for those of you who are mad about Larry Sanders getting two million per season.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Mike Muscala are for sure out as of today. Kenrich Williams, Aaron Wiggins, Ty Jerome, Luguentz Dort and Josh Giddey are all fighting through injuries. Either way, it’s the Thunder.
Vs. Atlanta March 10th
The one home game is against the Hawks, who are hanging around the playoff mix and with 21 games remaining (as of this writing), they need all of them to get to 50 wins. They still are hanging around for the eight, nine and ten seeds, so the postseason is likely, but I just don’t think they are going to flip the switch anymore. This is our final meeting with the Hawks, and I don’t expect to see them in the playoffs unless we are a one or two seed, and they won the first two in Atlanta. But, with this team having just never found its footing, I expect that they aren’t going to get a sweep this series either way.
24 players have played in a game for the Hawks, which shows how bad things have been here, and Trae Young is the leader among them in scoring and assists, and actually is almost averaging a 30-point double-double (2 points and 1 assist away). Clint Capela is leading in rebounds and blocks, and newcomer Delon Wright is the steals leader. As for injuries, they are battling some with Young, John Collins, Lou Williams and Onyeka Ogonkwu. All or none might be out for this game.
@Golden State March 12th
We begin the four game trip with the Warriors. Golden State has been struggling a bit lately, and the Memphis Grizzlies are neck-and-neck for the two seed with them. Whatever seed they are, the Warriors are a significantly better team when it comes to their record than the Bucks, and this should be a tough test. Remember that Draymond Green is the engine that makes them go, or at least he’s more important than you would think, but now he doesn’t qualify for team leaderboards due to missed games. However, Klay Thompson has returned in full force in that time, so it’s why they are still vastly above .500 and should get a top-three seed.
The Bucks managed to blow them out in Fiserv Forum, which is part of why we have been frustrated by the Bucks this season. They do things like blow out the Warriors, then lose to the Pistons. Stephen Curry is the points and assists leader, and Kevon Looney leads in blocks and rebounds. Gary Payton II, a former Buck, leads in steals. Green would lead in assists, steals and blocks, which shows his versatility. Also, keep an eye on rookie Jonathan Kuminga, who is starting to have a good season with more minutes. Finally, James Wiseman, along with Green, will miss this game for sure.
@Utah March 14th
This is the second of a difficult back-to-back game, and the Jazz have started to rediscover themselves. They brought in Nickeil Alexander-Walker via Portland from New Orleans in exchange for Joe Ingles essentially, who is out for the season anyway. That trade will shore up guard depth, and all-around the Jazz are pretty well stacked. I still would not be surprised if this team makes the Finals, and if they do catch Golden State and Memphis, Donovan Mitchell really should be thought of for MVP. My current vote is for Giannis, then Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies who nobody (on Bleacher Report) is putting in their MVP rankings. The last time we played the Jazz was way back in October, and we lost at home 107-95. I think I said something like “it was a scary early season test” due to Halloween. Cringe.
Donovan Mitchell leads with points and steals, and is one of five players averaging at least 14 PPG. Rudy Gobert is the NBA leader in rebounds with nearly 15 per game, and also has around 2.5 blocks per game. Mike Conley has the narrow edge over Mitchell in assists. As for injuries, the Jazz have relatively been lucky (aside from Ingles) and don’t have anything major at the moment.
@Sacramento March 16th
Hey, Big Ragu. Still don’t get the nickname, but it will be nice to see you. Unfortunately for you, the Kings really love you, enough that they traded for you twice. But, there is a chance that if you play poorly enough and risk taking a minimal salary for one year next year, you can escape their clutches.
Okay, now that we remember Donte DiVincenzo is here, we can talk about the other trade they made for Domantas Sabonis. So far, it hasn’t gotten them into the weak play-in in the Western Conference, so it has to be about next season. Honestly, if he and De’Aaron Fox are not enough to get the Kings into the playoffs, I’m not sure they ever will get there. Pairing him with Richaun Holmes up front would have been similar to doing so with Myles Turner, but they don’t even play them together for the most part, which is really odd since they are among their four best players. I don’t get the trade, I really don’t. They are the Kings of confusion honestly.
Tyrese Haliburton, now in Indiana, is the “technical” leader in assists, steals and blocks, and I don’t get why ESPN just can’t remove these players after they get traded or cut. Fox is the qualifying leader in assists, but Sabonis is the active leader. Steals and points also go to Fox, and blocks go to Holmes. Harrison Barnes is the qualifying leader in rebounding, but like with assists, Sabonis also has that lead actively. Quality role player Terence Davis will miss this game, and the rest is too far away to determine for sure.
For how much I whined about that Timberwolves’ loss before the Pistons and Trailblazers losses, the Timberwolves actually turned into a good team. Don’t think so? They are only four games or so behind the Bucks. It kind of reminds me of 2008 or whatever year you hit from the past. In this case, since we think the Bucks are good/great we have to at least believe the Timberwolves are good. So, why are they good? Well, for starters, they have three players averaging over 19 points per game, and D’Angelo Russell is almost resembling “All-Star D’Angelo Russell” (by the way, imagine if the Lakers kept all their recent draft picks instead of Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook). Injuries also have not derailed this team either, and I don’t really think they had a COVID nightmare like many teams did. So, everything essentially has gone right for Minnesota, and yet they are still just the seven seed. I don’t know, but I think this is a game we actually take, because we can’t lose to the Wolves twice, right?
They don’t have any major injuries at this point, and Karl-Anthony Towns leads in points, rebounds and shot blocking. Anthony Edwards leads in steals, and D’Angelo Russell leads in assists. Those are the three players averaging 19+ points per game, and the main reason why the Wolves are where they are.
Julie’s Prediction: 4-2
I’m back to a 4-2 prediction, surprise, right? I think if we lose to the Thunder that would just be entirely awful, so I’ve written that win in stone. Sacramento should be a win as well, and I’m also not believing we will lose the home game and get swept by this season’s version of the Hawks. That leaves beating one of Utah, Golden State and Minnesota, and I think that is definitely doable. I would trust the Minnesota game, then Golden State without Draymond and then Utah from most likely to least likely. But, the Bucks did very well on their last Western road trip, so we will see if these five games out “west” do us any favors. What do you think? Vote and comment below.
What Will the Bucks’ Record Be This Forecast
This poll is closed
5-1 or 6-0 (Golden State and/or Utah suck, even though they would be first in the East)
4-2 (Julie’s *Correct* Prediction)
3-3 (Don’t Keep Underestimating the Hawks and Timberwolves)
2-4 or worse (Julie shouldn’t have backed off her prediction of OKC in the Finals.....)