My favorite cliche is one that is always quoted, but rarely accepted: History will repeat itself.
With an 8-3 start, including Brandon Jennings’ 55 point coming out party, the start to the 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks season was, at least from a won-loss record standpoint, a harbinger of things to come.
By Jake McCormick
Just like last year, the Milwaukee Bucks are trekking through the pre-season with a talented rookie getting by on his instincts while still learning the system (Tiny Gallon…just kidding, Larry Sanders), along with concerns about star center Andrew Bogut’s health.
The biggest difference and storyline is the mountain-sized jump in preseason expectations for a Milwaukee Bucks team that spent the 2010 offseason beefing up their free throw and offensive woes from a season ago, to set themselves up for a run at the Central Division title against the improved Chicago Bulls.
The question of chemistry has been asked ad nauseam with six new veteran players on the roster, and understandably so whenever you replace serviceable role players with players that are being asked to carry less weight and playing time than they are typically accustomed. It also doesn’t help that the projected starting five for the Milwaukee Bucks has yet to take the court together in the preseason.
All chemistry and playing time questions aside, the Milwaukee Bucks absolutely need to get out to a start similar to 2009, when they went 9-7 in the first month before spiraling to a 3-11 December. There are parts of history you want to see again, and parts you work to pro-actively prevent from encores, and that winter swoon should be alleviated by the Bucks’ quality offseason.
Thanks to a much more capable Milwaukee roster, the early season absence of Carlos Boozer in Chicago, and the Bulls’ annual six game road trip at the end of November, the Bucks are in position to repeat the good history, with or without a 100% healthy Andrew Bogut.
The Milwaukee Bucks got out to a hot start last year, but the Chicago Bulls went into December coming off a 6-9 first month that included a crippling 1-5 in six straight road games to end November.
That annual Circus Trip is even harder this year, as the Bulls have to travel to Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix, Denver, and Sacramento, all without the services of prized free agent power forward Carlos Boozer.
The Bucks play eight home and eight away games to start the season, while the Bulls are on the road for nine games versus six at the United Center. That may not seem like much of an advantage for Milwaukee, as both teams play very well at home, but the Bucks have a much softer schedule outside of the Bradley Center that should help the team iron out some of their wrinkles before hitting their toughest stretch in December and January.
Milwaukee’s eight road opponents had home winning percentages of 53.7%, while Chicago is going against combined home records with a 67.8% winning percentage in their nine road games. The Milwaukee Bucks’ also went a combined 27-19 in 2009-10 against their 2010 October and November opponents, while the Chicago Bulls stood three games above .500 (20-17) against teams on their first month of the NBA schedule.
After the 9-7 start last year, the Bucks spiraled into a 3-11 December tailspin, and while the current Milwaukee team has enough scoring options to avoid that type of a swoon, the Bucks need to take advantage of the Chicago Bulls’ tougher schedule because sooner or later, the Bulls will be playing the likes of the Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Hornets, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Things will even out as the season wears on, but if Milwaukee enters December with a losing record against a perceived easy portion of their schedule, the chances of hanging the 2010-11 Eastern Conference Central Division title banner in the Bradley Center rafters get smaller after every loss.