Inside the Bulls-Eye: Milwaukee Bucks

For tonight’s game between the Bucks and Bulls, I had a chance to sit down with Milwaukee Bucks blogger K.L. Chouinard of Behind the Buck Pass to discuss the game. The Milwaukee Bucks may be 7-10 coming into the game but they have won three of their last five including wins against the Knicks and the Heat.

The Bucks hit a rough streak after starting 2-1 and are now 7-10, but they have won three of their last five including huge Eastern Conference wins over the Knicks and Heat. That sort of sends mixed messages about what kind of team Milwaukee has. So my question is: what kind of team is the Bucks? Are they a team that can compete for a playoff spot or is this going to be a mediocre season with highlight wins being the lipstick on the pig?

They are a scary 7th/8th place team in the Eastern Conference with Bogut and a lousy 8th/9th seed team without him.  They can contend for the playoffs, but only because their competitors (Boston, New York, Cleveland) are almost as vulnerable as they are.  Without Bogut, their problems are rooted in their roster.  They don’t have a natural shooting guard or center among their ranks.

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Andrew Bogut’s shut down for the next week. He was actually starting to heat up. What kind of blow is this to the Bucks? Is this going to, no pun intended, buck them off a potential hot streak?

He fractured his ankle and is out “indefinitely”, in the terms of the Bucks’ press release.  I can’t imagine that he’ll play more than a game or two in the regular season, and there is a really good chance he won’t be back at all.

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When people think Bucks, they thing Brandon Jennings. So far this season he’s been the leading Buck in a lot of categories. Can Jennings be a superstar point guard for the Bucks that is in the mold of a Derrick Rose? Can he lift the Bucks to a higher level of competition or is he still a year or two away if he will at all?

Brandon’s ceiling is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of “borderline All-Star” and he is not far from that goal.  He’s still not a natural passer and is best paired with teammates who aren’t ballstoppers, and GM John Hammond has made strides in that area, bringing in Mike Dunleavy and Stephen Jackson and shipping out Maggette and Salmons.

People look at Brandon’s low field-goal percentage and think he’s a bad shooter.  He’s not.  He has excellent form. The problem has always been more a product of bad decisions and worse teammates (on the offensive end, at least). But this year, his shot selection has improved vastly, and his numbers have risen accordingly.

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Speaking of Rose, he’s hurt but expected to play. How do you think Jennings will matchup against Rose knowing that he’s not 100 percent? Are there any other match ups tonight that intrigue you?

Jennings should do okay.  The one advantage of the Rose injury is that he won’t be able to run Jennings ragged, and a healthy Rose is one of the few people who can do that.  Coach Skiles has a bad habit of playing Jennings for the entire second half, and I hate that idea when Derrick is healthy.  It may just work tonight, though, if Rose leans toward a more passive style.

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The Bucks, like we said earlier, are three of their last five with huge wins over the Knicks and Heat. Can the Bucks weasel their way into the discussions of Sunday’s Bulls-Heat game by being one of the only teams in the entire NBA to have beaten them both and beaten them on the road no less?

This game is a total crapshoot.  After the Bogut injury, I’m expecting the Bucks to either come out and play inspired, otherworldly basketball or to come out flat, deflated, and soft in the middle.  This game feels like the most unpredictable game of the year.
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