What I’m about to tell you is not novel: Until at least 2/3rds of Milwaukee’s big three are regularly playing, you are not going to be missing much if you don’t watch the games that closely. Even then, as the four game losing streak showed, if the available 2/3rds are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday your mileage may vary.
It doesn’t have to be that way — see: the 9-0 start the team had — but the Bucks are too sloppy, too inconsistent, too incapable of having any non-star player hit shots consistently to be successful. For whatever reason they’ve hit a real rough patch as almost an entire team, and the experience watching from home (or, God forbid, paying money to actually go see them in person) right now is akin to that of watching a child struggle to fit a square peg into a round hole.
One counterpoint is to say that glazing over games is to miss the magic of Giannis Antetokounmpo. This is a fair point, and his mere existence does indeed offer the potential of must-see TV — he’s scored 40+ points in four of Milwaukee’s last six. But this is Giannis at some of his stylistic worst feeling like he is the team’s only chance at winning (he’s right) and forcing things in painful and physically exhausting ways. I can’t blame the guy because look at how everyone around him is playing, but the whole ends up turning into a sort of entertainment vicious cycle with the added kicker that it results in more wear and tear alongside losing.
Eventually, things will get better assuming Khris Middleton isn’t stealthily done for most of the season a la Brook Lopez last year. Until then, or until Giannis and Jrue show they’re both readily capable of consistently leading the team to plus performances, the Bucks have largely returned to the neutral state of a playoff-bound team going through the regular season motions. Whoopee.
Basketball is Beautiful Chapter 1 — The Dunk (Teutonia World)
If you’ve been around Bucks spaces long enough, you’ve undoubtedly seen some Teutonia World content (I share it here regularly). Just debuted is the first part in a multi-chapter series celebrating basketball, what it means, how it gets our hearts racing, and how it is a stronger sport because we can celebrate its many phases and continuities throughout history. Highly recommended.
Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes first player with consecutive 40-20-5 games since Wilt Chamberlain (CBS Sports)
If he does it in two wins we get to talk about how he’s re-inserted himself at the top of the MVP campaign like Luka Doncic got to do after dramatically scoring 60 points against the... Knicks? Lol.
Big gaudy numbers are all the rage across the NBA right now, so besides it being something of a statistical quirk, Giannis won’t get a lot of wider shine unless the historic performances are accompanied by a lot of memorable winning.
Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes, please say yes...
*reads the article*
...I just wanted to feel special this Monday morning.
Winners and Losers From the NBA’s Christmas Games (The Ringer)
Unsurprisingly, Milwaukee’s offense gets the spotlight in this one, although we do get the happy qualifier that maybe we’d be better if Khris was around. Just the usual conclusions that the only guarantee of the Bucks being able to score at all rests in Middleton’s corporeality. Apparently there is no other short-term fix the players or coaching staff can or finds compelling to alight upon.
Top 22 stat lines from 2022 (NBA.com)
Giannis makes the cut here right at the very end of the article with his 44 point, 20 rebound performance dragging the corpse of the Bucks to the cusp of advancement in G6 of last year’s ECSF. Except we lost that game and so it might as well not have happened. Interesting that he had the first 40-20 game in the NBA’s playoff history since Shaq.
Examining potential trade destinations for Kyle Kuzma (Basketball News)
The “Kick Rocks for Kuzma” trade campaign continues apace in the comments and in wider media as well. He was good for an inefficient triple-double last night against a group of local yokels Mike Budenholzer picked up from an area YMCA gym, and will get another chance to showcase his talents for Jon Horst on Tuesday. Nekias Duncan presents a solid case for why a competitive team would have their eyes on Kuzma — scoring, decent passing, decent defense, and he’s 27 and on the verge of a new long contract — while also pointing out that the Bucks 1) Don't have a lot of capital to use to get him and 2) He may not view Milwaukee as a “premier” destination worth sticking around in. Money talks, though.
Posting not because there’s anything really worth reading in here, but because the headline is just that good. Adam Amin and Stacey King of the Bulls broadcast are notoriously two of the most godawful presenters in global organized basketball, so it’s no surprise that they provide the bevy of money quotes in this piece. However, I must honor the fact that we are currently a lesser team than the Bulls in direct competition and keep my insults humble and mild.
Crafty Cow is starting 2023 with some awesome Milwaukee Bucks promotions (Milwaukee Record)
Selling pints of beer for $.50 for 30 minutes before a Bucks game starts would normally make me question whether that is even a morally upstanding thing to do in a state that leads the nation in destructive binge drinking. Then I read that it’s just Michelob Ultra and salute Crafty Cow for going out of their way to ensure Bucks fans stay hydrated with colored water at a reasonable cost!
G may had been lurking around the awards table for a long time, waiting for their triumphant moment to surge forth and capture gold. “Hot take for hot takes sake” accomplishes two tasks at once: Stirring up the pot by suggesting we can our constantly bewildered head coach AND earning G may FPOTW immortality. The Fire Bud campaign is back and better than ever!
Know Your Enemy
- They literally just kicked our asses and there isn’t much else to say on this point. Here’s hoping Giannis plays on Tuesday to make it mildly interesting.
- As a connoisseur of Raptors Hating, I disagree with the thrust of Josh Kern’s argument here. But I do have to respect his bringing to my attention “Vision 6’9”” which is a hilarious shorthand for GM Masai Ujiri’s roster-building and for following the 2000s Bucks maxim that it is better to trade future draft picks so you can be the seventh seed now rather than decisively make a break towards building for a brighter tomorrow.
The Social Media Section
Instagram continues to be obstinate with their previewing on other sites, so we’re missing those this week. Literally the only thing of note was Thanasis posting a “new year, new us” screed that looked like a Notes app screenshot. Elsewhere:
Kyle Carr and I appeared on the Teutonia World podcast last week to take part in a Bond Song draft. It was a ton of fun and I suggest you listen if you want some non-Bucks content.
Giannis taking game prep to new levels trying to work on free throws while his young children waddle around and scream in his general vicinity
DeMarre will make MarJon an honest-to-God basketball player even if it kills him
Be humble enough to be coachable: but be confident enough to dominate your position…. EVERYDAY pic.twitter.com/UaiO4CWiUT— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) December 27, 2022
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 15-21
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 23-13
“At the risk of being back here in seven days Charlie Murphy’ing myself yet again, I think we can pull off a 3-0 week to right the ship.”
We host the Wizards again tomorrow, hit the road to face the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday, and are back in Milwaukee to play the Hornets on Friday. To avoid another bout of Charlie Murphy gif, I will be pessimistic and guess at 1-2 this week with a win over the Hornets to console us.