Hi Milwaukee Bucks fans! We are approaching the All-Star break, so I’m going to give out my awards for the break! That’s right, who is the MVP? Who is the DPOY? Coach of the Year? Surprise team? All of that, and more! Then, we’ll get into the shorter forecast that sees us going out West to Portland and (both) LA (teams), having a date with the Celtics on Valentine’s Day at home, and then finishing up in Chicago. Here are the awards, and the one rule I’ve made for myself is that I’m not picking any Bucks.
All-NBA 1st Team
Nikola Jokic (Denver), LeBron James (LA Lakers), Jayson Tatum (Boston), Luka Doncic (Dallas), Ja Morant (Memphis)
Without Giannis, this was actually pretty easy. Luka and Jokic were my only slam dunks here, and then it got pretty tricky. I went with Tatum because Boston has the best record, and he’s having a remarkable season as well. I chose James for the other forward spot (which will be Giannis). Embiid would be my choice if it were the All-Star format. It also came down to Ja or Donovan Mitchell, and I again went with team record.
Coach of the Year:
Joe Mazzulla (Boston)
Did anyone even know who this guy was before Boston hired him? The fact that he has the Celtics where they are as an out-of-nowhere coach after all of their offseason drama really shows that he has some great coaching abilities.
Rookie of the Year:
Paolo Banchero (Orlando)
Looking at the numbers of the rookies this season, nobody has really come close to Paolo Banchero since Benedict Mathurin kind of fell off to a bit more realistic expectations. His play has helped Orlando not be completely terrible this season.
Sixth Man of the Year:
Christian Wood (Dallas)
This award is a lot trickier and may belong to Bobby Portis averaging a double-double off of the bench, but since I can’t pick Bucks, I went with the scoring leader and third in rebounding among reserves in Christian Wood. However, he may very soon be removed from the race due to games started, so a safer pick may go to the rookie Benedict Mathurin or Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon.
Defensive Player of the Year
Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis)
Jackson averaging over 3 blocks per game is much more impressive than people realize. Just for reference, only three players in NBA history have averaged over 3 blocks in their careers. That would be Mark Eaton, Manute Bol, and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Better Team Than I Thought
The Pacers have gone 1-9 during a recent stretch, and that is because of Tyrese Haliburton’s injury, and my eventual prediction of their crash back down to reality, but this team being a few games over .500 more than halfway through the season is all they needed to prove me wrong.
Worse Team Than I Thought
Golden State Warriors
Yeah, it’s nice that this team has come back down to Earth, but what I mean by “worse” is them proving me wrong by playing terribly compared to where I had them. I had them as the clear challenger to the Bucks, but currently, they are only two games over .500
Okay, I didn’t want to pick anybody else. I tried to make it through the whole exercise. It’s probably Jokic otherwise. Let’s check out the previous forecast.
To start off, the Bucks blew out the Pistons in Michigan to pull to 1-0. We then got an extremely shorthanded version of the West’s best in the Denver Nuggets at home, and kind of won in a fashion a bit too close for comfort. Game three was over in the first half, or so it seemed, when the Bucks took a huge lead over Indiana. We still won by 12, but it became just a bit too close for me. Following that, we began our four-game homestand against New Orleans and they were also shorthanded, which led to a win and a 50-point Giannis game. We then played the other bottom-feeder in the East in Charlotte, and somewhat smoothly took care of them. We then had that epic game against the Clippers, with a 21-point comeback and 54 points from Giannis. Finally, against the Heat, they went undefeated this forecast for the second time this season.
Julie’s Prediction: 4-3 (36-17)
Bucks’ Record: 7-0 (36-17)
So, they did better than I predicted, but I went low again because of a few reasons. But they have also caught up to my projection of their record, and now I’m likely to be heading into the break within a game of my overall record prediction. First, I wasn’t sure about when/if Giannis/Middleton would return, and how much they would play. Second, I did that as a way to try and bring them closer to my overall record for the season. Still, they beat it by a few games, so I think it more has to do with the whole squad playing. Before we move on to the game-by-game breakdown, here are the injuries:
*Note, no trades are accounted for in this forecast
Portland will be without Jusuf Nurkic and Justise Winslow, and Gary Payton is also on the report with an illness. The Lakers likely will not have Austin Reaves, and the duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James is always questionable. The Clippers will once again be without John Wall. Boston continues to be without Danilo Gallinari, and may also not have Marcus Smart who is out until at least February 8th. Finally, Chicago will miss Lonzo Ball and Javonte Green. The Bucks likely will not have Bobby Portis play the whole time, and Serge Ibaka is away from the team.
At Portland Trail Blazers
Monday, February 6th
9 PM on NBA TV & Bally Sports WI
I think you are the only one if you believed that the Portland Trail Blazers would be sitting around the end of January at or near the bottom of their division. With the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz expected to tank, Portland wasn’t supposed to be here. Except they are right where we expected them to be regarding their record and place in the standings: within the hodgepodge fighting for the play-in amidst the trade deadline.
Portland has Damian Lillard, as well as two more semi-stars in Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons averaging over 20 points per game. Center Jusuf Nurkic is near a double-double. Josh Hart is a good three and D wing. After that though, the production really falls off, and it falls fast. Just glancing at the bench, the three players that stick out to me are Gary Payton II, rookie Shaedon Sharpe and journeyman Justise Winslow. Are we done complaining about our lack of depth, when looking at Portland? I’m not surprised that if Lillard misses time, that this team just doesn’t have enough to win games.
I hate when the Bucks do a Western road trip because I never really know what to think. I remember hearing Ted Davis or Jim Paschke talk about how the Bucks have lost 30 of 37 in San Antonio, or 25 in a row in Utah or whatever the streak may have been, but it just seemed like everywhere we went, the team in the West had our number. Hopefully, that’s not the case here, and if not for that pattern, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick the Bucks in this one. But don’t be surprised if we don’t win either, it just “happens” out West.
At LA Lakers
Thursday, February 9th
9 PM on TNT
Will Anthony Davis be back to full strength by this time? Has/will LeBron James break the scoring record here? Only time will tell, but the presence of Davis really made all the difference in the world as he demolished us the last time he took the court against the Bucks. Giannis didn’t look half bad himself, but that game had some of us at Brew Hoop putting him on our All-Star rosters despite only playing 25 games at the time. No slight to those who picked him, I’m just saying he was that impressive.
LeBron James has been doing all of the work himself in the meantime, and so far it has only really kept the Lakers around in the play-in conversation. They haven’t been eliminated, and with the addition of Rui Hachimura for next to nothing and the eventual return of Anthony Davis, you have to wonder if the Lakers will find their way into the postseason and present a real challenge for Denver or Memphis. If they can find a way to make more moves, this team could become sneaky.
As of now though, for this game at this time, the Bucks are better, with or without Anthony Davis. LeBron can’t win by himself, and I don’t see us losing to the Lakers twice this season. Giannis will show up for this one, and not having to worry about traveling accommodations that night should help with the team not having to rush out of the hotel or worry about flying after the game.
At LA Clippers
Friday, February 10th
9 PM on Bally Sports WI
The Clippers game last Thursday was unbelievable, not only with the comeback but with the 54 points from Giannis. Don’t take my word for it, though, check out our rapid and full-length recaps to see more details.
As for this game, I’m not sure what to think. We beat them, but barely and with a heroic effort from Giannis. This time, the game is away, a big game with the Lakers just happened and Boston is next up. This is my pick for our most likely loss in this group.
Tuesday, February 14th
6:30 PM on TNT
What a lovely matchup for this Valentine’s Day (see what I did there?). I don’t think we’re ever going to really know how well we will play against Boston until/if we meet them in the postseason. Boston has been dominant this season, and aside from the first month or so when the Bucks were undefeated (that feels like a long time ago), Boston has been outpacing the rest of the East. The addition of Malcolm Brogdon, plus a full season of Derrick White has helped create depth in the backcourt and thus helped allow players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to play forward more frequently, which is their more natural position.
The thing that confuses me most when it comes to Boston being good is how good Al Horford has been in spite of his age, and that he is playing so productively that he is relegating Robert Williams to the bench in more games than not. Also, who would have thought that former Marquette player Sam Hauser would have the impact he is having for the Celtics today? I didn’t think he was even draftable, let alone possibly a player.
Look, Boston’s great, and that first game we had on Christmas sucked, so I honestly don’t have a lot to say about this matchup until we get to the postseason. Let’s just hope that it will be better this time around, back in our home arena. Either way, don’t let this game make or break your Valentine’s Day.
Thursday, February 16th
6:30 PM on TNT
Nobody believes me when I say that the Bulls aren’t as bad as they may seem, and I think part of the proof is in the first two games they played against the Bucks. For obvious reasons, this team wakes up to play the Bucks, and they play hard enough to try and make their minds forget the embarrassment we gave them last postseason. But this squad has enough solid pieces to be a team that can make the playoffs, so don’t count them out. They have the most awkward big three in basketball, but that group is still good enough to be called a big three.
Especially since everyone besides Giannis and Jrue Holiday will be having a week off after this game, I think it is vital that we get a win here. Not only because we want to end the first two-thirds on a good note, but also because we haven’t beaten the Bulls yet, and if we don’t do it a third time that has me a bit concerned. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times? We may start considering that the Bulls have the upper hand in the matchup. I don’t want to cause panic here, but losing to this team three times in a row is concerning.
Julie’s Prediction: 3-2
Portland and the Lakers are not very good, and I think we get our revenge on Boston and Chicago as well. We also can’t rely on the Clippers being at full strength either. I am definitely willing to admit that any of those games are losable, especially with our history playing out West, but at this point, a winning record or even 4-1 is likely for the Bucks. They will be in a very good position heading into the break, that’s for certain.
Heading into the Break, What Will the Bucks Last 5 Games Look Like?
This poll is closed
4-1 or 5-0 (Hot Streak All the Way to the Break)
3-2 (Julie’s Correct Prediction)
2-3 (It Evens Out Affter the Win Streak)
1-4 or 0-5 (The Break Came Early This Year)
Lastly, I have also decided to declare what I’m projecting the Bucks’ final record to be. I’ve taken a much further extended forecast to see what the final 24 games of the season are, and I’m going with the Bucks to finish 18-11 overall to finish the season, putting them at 54-28. You heard it here first.
What do you think? Vote and comment below