Friday, November 18, 2005

Halfway Done

Sam Cassell NBA Rollerz
Life-size photo of Sam Cassell

Well the Bucks are halfway through their western road swing. Last year they had two close losses to Miami before the trip and that totally demoralized the team and they were promptly swept, on their way to getting swept on the road out west all season, going 0-15. This year the trip didn't start out any better, losing by 24 to the Clippers and our old buddy Sam Cassell. The Bucks played their usual fall behind early game, except this time they didn't come back, which usually isn't a good thing. I have no idea why Corey Magette is coming off the bench for these guys (something about his ankle probably), but he killed us all night, and has been very proficient off the bench in his previous games, so it doesn't make any sense not to start him anymore. Even though he's been crazy efficient off the bench (50% FG 93% FT) and won't keep that up as a starter, it's inarguable that he is more valuable playing 40 minutes a night rather than the 27 he's playing now. Sam Cassell was MVP though, with 23 and 9 and not even playing the fourth.

Most importantly was what happened to Terry Stotts. He's starting to sucumb to Terry Porter syndrome. Check out these numbers:

Jamaal Magloire: 22 min 0-5 FG 0-0 FT 0 PTS 8 REB 3 TO 3 PF
Dan Gadzuric:16 min 3-6 FG 1-2 FT 7 PTS 4 REB 1 TO 2 PF

Which one of those two would you say played better? Now which one would you say got more minutes? Another ominous sign was that Andrew Bogut got only 14 minutes of PT. If this game was just a warning sign, the GS game was the confirmation. More on that in a second. Perhaps the greatest crime Stotts committed was letting Ervin Johnson into the game. I honestly don't care if it was garbage time, he should never ever be allowed to touch a basketball anymore, let alone get into the game. At least Porter was playing Dan Santiago over Gadzuric.

Mo Williams had his first bad game since the season opener, shooting 4-11, and Joe Smith had his first bad game of the season, shooting 1-6 with 4 pts. and 4 PF. Bobby Simmons didn't do much in his return to LA, but pretty much the only player who did play well was Charlie Bell with 8 points on 4-6 shooting in just 9 minutes. He's shooting .462 for the season, not bad for a 6-3 shooting guard.

Just a poor effort all around, I would say. We were lifeless.
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I just like showing Mike Dunleavy pictures

The GS game was a welcome respite from the LAC game, in that it was the first time since the Miami game that we came out strong. But unlike the Miami game, we stayed pretty strong throughout, never falling behind by more than a few and taking a 15 point lead into the fourth. It was a nailbiter at the end, with Baron Davis and Jason Richardson both missing threes, letting the Bucks escape with a 90-87 win, and ending our 20 month Western road losing streak. Even though we did come out strong for once, there were some troubling aspects of the game that need to be addressed. Like I mentioned above, this was the first game where Terry Stotts finally sucumbed to Terry Porter syndrome. I think I've come up with a permanent name for this disease in the basketball world: Terryitis. You know when your coach has Terryitis when he plays obviously inferior players over much more talented players for reasons known only to him. Check out these stat lines:

GSW game:
Joe Smith: 32 min. 4-9 FG 9 pts. 13 reb. (4 offensive.) 5 PF
Andrew Bogut: 16 min. 4-12 FG 9 pts. 11 reb. (7 offensive.) 1 PF
Dan Gadzuric: DNP-CD

Now take a look at those numbers. They both scored the same amount of points, true, and Joe Smith shot better than Bogut, but I've highlighted two key numbers that will explain this. Joe Smith played twice as many minutes but only ended up with only two more rebounds, and Bogut in half the minutes grabbed almost twice as many offensive rebounds. This explains the poor shooting. Bogut was fighting for lots of offensive rebounds, and was therefore putting up more contested shots (i.e. a lower percentage than your normal low-post shot). Lets do the math. If bogut gets 32 minutes he scores 18 points and grabs 22 rebounds, 14 of which are offensive. He probably won't take as many contested inside shots because his coach will be telling him in timeouts to pass the ball out to run a new play when he gets those rebounds.

It's not as if Bogut did anything to deserve the reduction in minutes. He was playing far better than I expected particularly in the areas of defense and rebounding. Don't go thinking those 22 rebounds are unrealistic, he's already had a game of 17 rebs. He was also shooting .555 from the field before the western trip and averaging 8.8 reb. in 31.6 min. He never caught an attitude with Stotts, but far more imprtantly, he has vastly outplayed Jamaal Magloire, who has rebounded and defended reasonably well but has been absolutely wretched on offense, shooting .350 from the field. That's 200 points worse than Bogut. In addition, Magloire is averaging 3 TOs and over 4 fouls a game to Bogut's .88 TOs and 3 fouls a game, in almost identical minutes.

The only reason Magloire is starting is because he has the title of "former all-star." So is Latrell Sprewell. So what? Bogut has earned PT by being with the team throughout training camp and learing the system, and Magloire hasn't. So if Bogut is playing better, and is just as big a part of the Bucks future as Magloire isn't, why isn't he getting PT? Terryitis.

Golden State, despite theur record, has been a mild disappointment to me. They aren't scoring at nearly the rate they did last year, after getting Baron Davis. They are only averaging 93.4 points a game, but their defense is much improved, allowing opponents only 89.4 points per game. Their offensive woes fall mostly on Baron Davis, whose shjooting this year has been unspeakably awful: .324 FG .290 3P .667 FT. It's true that their $85 million duo, Mike Dunleavy and Adonal Foyle, only gave them 5 points and five fouls on 2-10 shooting, but they're only an $85 million duo because Chris Mullin made them one. It's Davis' team.

Next for the Bucks is Sacramento, a team that has struggled but is still dangerous. The second game is Utah, a game that we should win because of the injuries to Kirilenko and Boozer but which won't be a cakewalk by any means. It's very reasonable to expect a split. I'm willing to tolerate Terryitis for now as long as we win, but we won't be able to keep this up for the whole season.