Friday, November 11, 2005

Bucks' luck runs out 110-103

That's goaltending!

This Milwaukee team is becoming really easy to write about this year. So easy, in fact, that I didn't even have to watch tthe game they played against the Warriors, and I didn't; I only skimmed over the recap in the paper. But I know exactly what happened. It went a little like this:

-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to Troy Murphy for wide open 3.
-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to Jason Richardson for wide open 3.
-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to Mike Dunleavy for wide open 3.
-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to (fill in name here) for wide open 3.

This is exactly what happened to the Bucks against Miami and to a lesser extent New Jersey and Philadelphia. It followed the Bucks script to a tee. Bucks fall behind early, and through timely layups by T.J. Ford and 3's by Michael Redd/Bobby Simmons/Mo Williams the Bucks climb back in it and squeak one out. I said in my last Bucks recap that this style of play is not sustainable over a full season and I was right, even though it's only 1 game. Time and again the Bucks would fall down by 7 or 9, get a few key stops and crawl back to tie or come close, only to have another 3 hit in their faces by one of the aforementioned and be out of it again. This time they managed to get the lead down from seven to 96-94 with 2 minutes left, only to have Troy Murphy hit a wide-open three. The only difference between the Warriors and the Heat is that the Warriors can shoot, and Antoine Walker and Jason Williams can't.

On the bright side, Joe Smith made a fantastic return with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Mo Williams once again had a great game offensively off the bench. His defense is the only thing that prevents him from being a starter-quality player in this league, but the combo of T.J. at the 1 and Mo at the 2 works quite well in small bursts.

You are never going to win letting your opponent shoot 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3, even if you shoot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3 and take 16 more field goals because if your opponent shoots 12 more 3's and gets to the free-throw line 15 more times, they are going to outscore you. The Bucks with all their penetrators (i.e. T.J. and Mo) and all their quality big men (Bogut, Magloire, Smith, Gadzuric, Kukoc) shouldn't have a problem getting to the line but this has been a negative characteristic in all our wins in the first half, and against the Warriors for the entire game. It's pretty obvious that had the Bucks just gotten to the free-throw line as many times as the Warriors, they could have overcome all the open 3's they were giving up.

Now it's on to the Pacers on Saturday, and they play a pretty slow, physical style, so we shouldn't have a problem in the free-throw department. The real question is how Milwaukee responds to facing their first good defensive opponent all year. I still think Indiana was and is a little overrated heading into this year, but make no mistake, they are an elite team in the East, as they are very deep. The only team the Pacers lost to was the Sixers, a team we beat, so we'll definitely have a chance in this gae, but I'll go with the Pacers by at least 5.