From glee at the marvel of Dame Time to despondency at the reality of a horrific defense that shows no sign of improvement, these first few weeks of the season have been something of a roller coaster for the Milwaukee Bucks and us, the fans.
I think what might be hardest about this mediocre start to the season is the fact that I simply cannot envision how it is the Bucks would win a game by 15 or more points. Against literally any professional opposition, the defense is simply that bad. We certainly aren’t strong enough as a unit offensively to cruise to a 20+ point lead and hang on to it via a barrage of shooting — not yet, at least.
If regular season play is meant to be a time of exploration and self-discovery, it is also the period in which you find the style of play that enables you to beat down an opponent. In the past Milwaukee had stifling interior defense and a bombs-away shooting mentality that won them a ton of games. Right now, we have... Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo getting to the free throw line? I’m happy to have others name strengths I’m overlooking.
Whether Adrian Griffin can carve out recognizable niches with the roster he has will go a long way to determining how long he stays gainfully employed by the Bucks. His team’s play looks too much like guesswork and not like basketball with intention, and it isn’t even really trending in the right direction game-over-game. Is the gap between his theory and the reality of the tools available too wide to ever bridge? For all our sakes, I hope not.
Milwaukee Bucks Links
Breaking down the Bucks: What do we make of the early returns of the Giannis Antetokounmpo-Damian Lillard partnership? (Yahoo)
The first of a couple season-so-far recaps from around the web, courtesy of Dan Devine. Is it encouraging that analysis from on-high seems to be matching up with what we humble basketbloggers and basketblog commenters are noting? Inasmuch as it confirms that I, too, know ball, it is a comfort. Unfortunately, like all of us, Devine & Co. have far more questions than answers right now.
This clip comes from an episode of JJ Redick’s podcast last week, but is obviously still relevant even after the Bucks nabbed a few more wins. I’m resigned to the fact that analysis of the season will boil down to two branching analysis paths:
- All the right strategies are in place, it is just a matter of guys “gelling” over the course of 82 games
- The entire system is broken from the base up and has no chance of working with this personnel
That’s reductive, but also not that far off the mark of the two main take categories, right?
The Bucks Are A Reckless, Glorious Drama In Giannis’ Image (RealGM Analysis)
Very fun read that perfectly encapsulates what I would describe as the, “vibe,” around the team so far. We’re not even 10 games into the regular season and we’ve got more talking points than we know what to do with! This is messy. This is entertainment. This is drama. This is basketball!
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s bogus ejection: NBA should be giving fans reasons to watch games, not turn them off (CBS Sports)
I’m fully aware that the league is deathly allergic to giving players any room for emotion that could lead to scrapping (even though we live in the Golden Age of “hold me back”). The appeal for referees to be extremely mindful of handing out second technicals — especially to superstars — resonates, although I don’t think you need to even have the extra star qualifier. Any guy who goes out there and executes that kind of play should be given his laurels. A chance to stand in the spotlight for a half-second. Celebration of the awe-inspiring is a significant reason to watch sports in the first place.
Fan Post/Comment of the Week
The tumbleweeds have it again for FPOTW, but WiscoJoe will take home hardware for this comment on the rapid recap for the Magic game:
I don’t think we can definitively say that Griffin is a bad coach, but it’s really really hard for anyone to have an argument that he’s a good coach. Like seriously, what evidence does Griffin have to show he’s an above average coach?
Offense has been mediocre at best, defense has been terrible, and we went from one of the best rebounding and defensive transition teams to one of the worst. It’s hard not to put that regression on the coach when it’s that drastic and it’s not like Holiday or Allen had any substantial impact on those areas.
Even the “good” things Griffin has done have come with big asterisk next to them:
- He listens to his players by adjusting to putting Brook back to drop defense, but he never should have made that change in the first place or needed his players to tell him what he was doing is dumb.
- Our turnover rate on defense is much better, but now we’re a bottom 5 defense and can’t rebound...
That and many more good points made by Joe and other readers!
Know Your NBA Enemy
Chicago Bulls - Blog A Bull - If there is any internal pressure to win games, Billy Donovan sure isn’t coaching like it
- Begrudgingly, I long ago came to deeply respect the acerbic mixture of pessimism and wit our colleagues at Blog A Bull put out on a weekly basis. Reading their blog over the past five-plus years has been like stepping into a time machine to the early Bucks blogosphere where everyone felt outright disdain for the team. Poetry comes from the dark places.
- I’m not saying the Bucks are doomed, but I am glad they’ll get to face the Raptors again right away. Part of why I’ve liked the recent trend of mini-series against teams in the regular season is because you can try to compare/contrast tactical changes in a small vacuum. Let’s see how much of a step in the right direction the Bucks can make v. Toronto.
Charlotte Hornets - At The Hive - Hornets blown out by Knicks
- We’re actually frighteningly close to Charlotte in terms of offensive and defensive rating (average in the former, disastrous in the latter) and now the Hornets are starting to take on water via injury as well. Should be a good ugly-off later this week.
- Dudes will literally kick rocks with the Bulls for a season or two, get paid for substandard play, leave, and then look like diamonds in the rough wherever the end up afterwards. I love it.
The Social Media Section
Nah, let my man cook
The last 3 years of James Harden’s career summarized in 2 minutes— omo mustard (@yungmustard23) November 11, 2023
COOK HIM. pic.twitter.com/WiH2g0ZLDj
I must say: They look uglier than sin.
Massive respect to the guy wearing the one hat with a literal buck on it; got to high-five Bobby after a nice sequence and had that courtside selfie with Giannis post-ejection
MarJon is for the people
Eking out wins against the once-again-godawful Pistons and rocking new kicks
Riley’s 2023-2024 Regular Season Prediction Record: 3-6
Milwaukee Bucks 2023-2024 Actual Regular Season Record: 5-4
No rest for the weary as the Bucks line up another four game week:
- v. Chicago Bulls, Monday - 7:00 PM CT
- @ Toronto Raptors, Wednesday - 6:30 PM CT
- @ Charlotte Hornets, Friday - 6:00 PM CT (NBA In-Season Tourney)
- v. Dallas Mavericks, Saturday - 7:00 PM CT
The only game I feel any confidence in is tonight’s against the Bulls — I’ll pick the Bucks for a win and hit the panic button for real if they lose. Otherwise, put me down for another pantsing at the hands of the Raps, a win over the Hornets, and a loss to the Mavericks. The team’s point differential says their record is more positive than it should be, and I have no confidence that they can play above the gravity of our poor system in a meaningful way.