Milwaukee Bucks analysis: Health beats Toronto Raptors mediocrity

Brandon Jennings

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

Click here for a Bucks/Raptors game recap.

The Milwaukee Bucks 92-74 win over the Toronto Raptors wasn’t anything you would label a “signature” victory or “corner-turning” rout. But Milwaukee needs to take any win they can get, which is more than enough to justify feeling good about pounding the clawless Raptors.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Milwaukee Bucks beat offense/defense-less Toronto Raptors

Andrew Bogut

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

Click here for Bucks/Raptors analysis.

You know a team is starving for a victory and built around defense with scoring 92 points and still winning by 18 is called a blow out. Nevertheless, the Milwaukee Bucks 92-74 victory over the Toronto Raptors Tuesday night was the dominant win the Bucks have failed to capture over the past month.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

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By Jake McCormick

Two words: Total domination. [Read more…]

Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut returns to trumpets and fanfare

Bulls Bucks Basketball

By Jake McCormick

For the second time this season, the Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks matchup came down to a last second shot. Thankfully for the home court Bucks, that shot was taken by Brad Miller of the Bulls, who’s attempt off a Derrick Rose drive clanked off the right-front of the rim to give Milwaukee a 99-97 win.

Rose’s game mirrored that of Brandon Jennings’ during his early season hot streak, as the Chicago point guard scored the majority of his points in the second half to bring Chicago back from the dead. However, his unselfish pass to Miller was the first question on reporter’s minds, which is often the price to pay for a star player’s faith in his teammates at the end of a tight game.

“It’s part of being point guard, (Miller) was open; that’s why I did it,” Rose said. (Concerning his late scoring) “I usually get a feel for the game then step it up. I just have to step it up in the beginning.”

Of course, any victory after a rough four-game losing streak is going to be embraced with a sigh of relief and a clean slate. The biggest story of the night before the start of the game was the rematch of two of the Eastern Conference’s best young point guards in Brandon Jennings and Rose. After it was all said and done, the return of Andrew Bogut became the clearly favored talking point.

Bogut was announced as a starter so late that Dan Gadzuric received the opening introductions over the Bradley Center loudspeaker. His absence and return can be likened to the Crystal Pepsi fad of the early 1990s; people didn’t realize the little things they loved about Pepsi (like its color) until they were taken away. Now clear cola is celebrated as if it were a walk of shame, and Bogut’s presence on both sides of the ball should help the team understand just how long of a walk that can be.

Bulls Bucks Basketball“It really makes things easier for everybody as far as playing inside-out and not having to create shots for each other,” Charlie Bell said. “With him you throw inside, spot up, and being great passer he finds open guys and gets open looks.”

The Aussie’s 22 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and four blocks all led the Bucks, with 14 of his points coming in the second quarter. Two of his four blocks were made late in the fourth quarter, and all came on drives through the lane.

“Both times I was there early,” Bogut said. “I knew (Luol Deng) was going to try and dunk it with two hands and the Rose block was a big one too.”

But his true impact on the game can be summed up by his defensive awareness around the basket in the third quarter. Bogut met Bull forward John Salmons on the left side of the lane and forced a pass to Rose cutting toward the basket. Bogut shifted his feet fast enough to cut the point guard off and prevent an easy bucket. The fact that he fought for the rebound after a short tip drill was just icing on the cake.

“I was confident going into the game,” Bogut said. “The coaches emphasized (confidence) going into season. They want me to shoot the ball much more.”

Bulls Bucks BasketballWith virtually unknown Turkish forward Ersan Ilyasova coming on strong as of late (He contributed early and fouled out with 13 points and eight rebounds), Bogut’s return allows much more flexibility in the Bucks’ offense, which is just the way Brandon Jennings likes it.

“I actually like it when him and Ersan are in game,” Jennings said. “Both rebound and Ersan is a shooter, so if you trap Boges, you’re leaving Ersan open. We have so many weapons out there at one time it just makes everything easier.”

The Bucks will take their 9-7 record to Washington D.C. Wednesday before returning home for another key divisional matchup against the Central-leading Cleveland Cavaliers.

Brandon Jennings slices, then rains on the Golden State defense

Warriors Bucks Basketball

By Jake McCormick

If social media could crown NBA stardom, Milwaukee Buck Brandon Jennings is well on his way after Saturday night’s record-setting performance against the Warriors.

Typically on a Saturday night, the college community is out debaucherizing themselves away from the blue hue that is the computer screen. A quick check of Facebook statuses and Twitter search words revealed profile-wide praise of the 20-year-old rookie point guard that popped up almost as quickly as his crossover drives to the hoop. Notice I said almost.

“Considering (Jennings’) is a rookie, he’s not greedy. He was just open and knocking down shots,” head coach Scott Skiles said after the Milwaukee Bucks’ 129-125 win over the Golden State Warriors. “I know what it’s like to be in that zone. In any NBA game when a guy goes off like that, you’re foolish if you’re not going to ride that.”

In a defensively-challenged win against one of the league’s top scoring offenses, Jennings’ much needed 55 points was the most posted by an NBA rookie since 1968 and broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s previous mark of 51. All of his points were scored after the first quarter, including a Bucks’ record 29 points in the third.

After shooting a frustrating 4-13 in the first half, Jennings said his second made shot of the third quarter turned on the switch that made him knock down 12-13 third quarter shots, including 4-5 three point three pointers.

“Luckily I hit the first two and it seemed like the rim was getting bigger and bigger and I couldn’t miss,” Jennings said after the game.

Down 57-49 at halftime, the Bradley Center crowd was so lethargic that parachute T-shirts raining from the rafters like World War II paratroopers were cheered louder than any run the Bucks’ put together in the first two quarters. Jennings’ 16-2 run to start the second half increased the decibel level faster than a Michael Jackson surprise concert outside Neverland Ranch. The torrid start helped the Bucks’ to an 80-68 second half advantage and keeping Milwaukee undefeated when trailing at halftime this season.

Warriors Bucks BasketballCenter Andrew Bogut continued his high percentage inside game, going 9-12. However, his 1-6 at the line continued Milwaukee’s ventures into the entrepreneurial field of brick laying, but Bogut said he isn’t concerned about stats as long as the wins keep coming.

“It was a great game for Brandon; great for his confidence,” said Bogut, who’s solid 19 points and 11 rebounds were his fourth double-double of the young season.

Despite the win, Skiles wasn’t happy with Milwaukee’s uncharacteristically slow defense. The Bucks have been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season, but you wouldn’t know it from Saturday’s performance. With a 56.1% field goal percentage for the game, the Warriors became the first team to shoot above 50% against Milwaukee this year.

“I don’t want to sell their players, but we just didn’t come out with the necessary defensive intensity,” Skiles said. “At some point during game, you’re going to have to get stops, and we never really did. When you give guys three or four feet they take the distance.”

Despite the Bucks' win, this was a pretty common site all night. Too bad the Warriors treat the glass like a fourth grader would treat the "hot lava" sidewalk.

Despite the Bucks' win, this was a pretty common site all night. Too bad the Warriors treat the glass like a fourth grader would treat the "hot lava" sidewalk.

Heading into Monday’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, Jennings just hopes to follow up his record-setting performance with another win that would extend the Bucks’ streak to five. Growing into a star in only his seventh game has done wonders for Jennings’s confidence, but he’s more than willing to relent and spread the wealth as needed.

“My confidence level is like when I was at Oak Hill my senior year in high school, as far as being comfortable and playing out there,” Jennings said. “Every game we have to come out, feed Bogut the ball and see what happens after that.”

With Jennings taking a philosophically socialist approach to his job as a point guard, the rest of the team seems to be feeding off his energy and charisma. It’s too early, of course, to be talking about more than just the next game on tap, but the Jennings-Bogut co-op are certainly injecting some life and interest into a franchise that is definitely one of the big surprises of the young NBA season.

Oh, and Michael Redd is expected back during this week’s three game homestand. Just thought I’d throw that out there.