Time to take the Milwaukee Bucks seriously


With their 113-105 overtime win Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to five games.  The Bucks are five games over .500 for the first time this year at 27-22, and have their first-five game win streak since March 9-20, 2012, where they won six straight.

Yes, it has been almost three long years since this franchise has mustered a five-game win streak.  While that is an accomplishment in and of itself, this win streak is different.  This win streak gives fans hope.

It has shown us how this team, unlike any other in the NBA (OK, maybe the Hawks) play like an actual team.  It has shown us why Jason Kidd deserves a key to the city.  And most importantly, it has shown us that it’s time to take this team seriously.

It’s different because fans see a future in this team.  They see these young players playing their heart out for each other and their coach and it has the city buzzing.  People are noticing the Bucks for the first time in years, and deservedly so.

Jan 31, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd talks with guard Jerryd Bayless (19) during the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

During their five-game streak, Milwaukee has done two things well that have stood out to me; they play defense, and they make shots.

Milwaukee has held opponents to 94.0 points per game, a 41.3 field goal percentage, and a 29.9 3-point percentage during this streak.  That has included holding the fifth-best scoring offense in Toronto to 75 points, and the eighth-best scoring offense in Portland to 88 points.

The Bucks, on the other hand, have averaged 102.8 points per game, a 48.6 field goal percentage, and a 45.7 3-point percentage during this streak.  Players like Khris Middleton, Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all contributed offensively in big ways during the streak.

Bayless has hit huge shots down the stretch of several games, including their wins against Toronto and Miami.

Mayo continues to hit big 3-pointers, including his overtime-forcing 3 against the Lakers.

Middleton continues to be the offensive catalyst for this team while Knight has struggled/been injured, as Khris dropped 25 in Brandon’s absence against Toronto.

And Giannis has been the lightning rod.  He has been expanding his offensive game so quickly; not just relying on driving to the basket anymore (he still does that though, don’t worry).  His offensive improvement showed as he dropped a career-high 25 points Wednesday night against the Lakers.

Feb 2, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless (19) celebrates with forward Jared Dudley (9) in the fourth quarter at Air Canada Centre. The Bucks won 82-75. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

While this streak is fun to watch, the question now is, can Milwaukee sustain this kind of success?  Can they turn the corner and make this a consistent basketball team?

And my answer is of course they can, as long as Jason Kidd is at the helm.  However, there are a few things Milwaukee needs to take care of if they want to continue taking this next step.

For one, they cannot continue getting dominated on the glass.  I understand that Milwaukee has been plagued with injuries, and I hope that a healthy team can solve this problem, but right now Milwaukee can’t compete with 90 percent of the league on the glass.

In fact, in each of their five wins, Milwaukee has lost in offensive rebounding.  We still wish for the day that Larry Sanders gets paid 11 million dollars a year to play basketball. *sigh*

Wednesday night against the Lakers Milwaukee were out rebounded 53-35, including 18-5 on the offensive glass.  They allowed Ed Davis to come off the bench and grab 20 rebounds.  Let that sink in.  Ed Davis came off the Lakers bench and grabbed 20 rebounds.

My other concern also deals with our lack of an interior game.  I worry that if Milwaukee misses too many perimeter shots down the stretch, they simply won’t score any points.  The perfect example of this came Monday night against Toronto.

Milwaukee was 3-of-19 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 1-of-4 from three.  If that wasn’t troubling enough, only four of those 19 shots came in the paint.  The Bucks shot 2-of-15 from the perimeter and only scored nine points in the fourth.  If Milwaukee can’t hit perimeter shots late in games, their chances of winning will solely be placed on their defensive capabilities.

The fact that they have no inside threat right now is worrisome, yet fixable.

These worries have been problems the Bucks have faced all season, but have just been amplified because of the injuries.  Once Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova come back, will these issues become more manageable? Probably.  Will these issues be taken care of?  No.  View their return like renting a car; it’s not your permanent solution, but it will get the job done for the time being.

But as of now, this team is giving us hope.  There have been talks of a bright future ever since Jabari Parker was drafted, and we are finally witnessing it.  We can get nit-picky about how Milwaukee is winning, but the bottom line is they ARE winning, and winning cannot be ignored.  So pay attention and go see these guys play!

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