OnBucksBasketball - Week 15
Heading into the all-star break next week, it would only be appropriate to do a state of the Bucks address. It has been a difficult year. But that doesn’t mean that this season has been void of positive moments. First and foremost, witnessing the young ability of rookie Giannis Adetokoumnpo has been the most fun thing to watch. The 19 year old will only age like a fine wine and will benefit from playing in the association at such a young age. Injuries have really hampered this team’s ability to learn how to play with one another. In many games this year, Milwaukee had competed right down to the last quarter. For reasons of chemistry mixed with injury, the Bucks are still figuring out how to play winning basketball yet. I look for the team to be better in the second half as they will find a way to win a few more of these close games.
Week fifteen began with a game that could easily be called the best victory of the season. In their first two matchups, the Bucks had come close to beating the Knicks but came up short in the last few minutes. This time, Milwaukee won by playing tough defense, getting loose balls and being very active on the offense even. Adetokoumnpo celebrated having his family in attendance from Greece for the first time in his NBA career. The rookie played an entertaining brand of basketball with several highlight reel dunks and layups and has been a joy to watch during a difficult season. With two seconds left, point guard Brandon Knight dribbled the ball above the top of the key and buried a three to take the lead.
The Bucks headed west a few nights later with a matchup in the Mile High City. The Nuggets seem to be in a stagnant mode as of late. They have a few talented role players in Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried, but injuries to the Denver bench have made it difficult in the loaded western conference. Milwaukee showed a few flashes of brilliance in this game as Larry Sanders had the best game of the season. The center was able to tally 25 points and 15 rebounds and played especially well off of Khris Middleton. If a couple more shots had fallen, the Bucks would have a very good chance of winning.
The Bradley Center welcomed in Houston on “beard night” and found that this game would be a close shave indeed. The Bucks trailed throughout most of the match, but found a way to cut the score to 98-95 with 20 seconds and the ball. Larry Drew devised a plan to score a quick basket, immediately foul a bad foul shooter in Dwight Howard and go for the winning basket. Unfortunately, Knight was unable to get a clean shot off and just missed a streaking layup attempt. Howard got the rebound, was fouled and hit the second free throw to push the lead to four with seconds remaining.
The Bucks had their strongest week in two months in week fifteen. They may have only won a single game, but in each contest they brought a physical and emotional intensity that has been lacking. With a rash of missed playing time by OJ Mayo and Luke Ridnour, players have stepped up to fill the void. Middleton had a great week averaging 21 points a game and rookie Nate Wolters had the game of his career against the Rockets with 19 points. Also, the recent availability of Zaza Pachulia has without a doubt had an impact protecting the rim and his sneaky passing ability has been an added bonus. One can only imagine Milwaukee is capable of keeping up the intensity this week. Let’s see if they do.
BUCK OF THE WEEK! – Brandon Knight 91 points, 7 rebounds, 20 assists, 1 win
9 wins/41 losses