Analysis of the Milwaukee Bucks loss to the Portland Trail Blazers


Andrew Bogut

Editor’s note: With the “Optimist, Pessimist, Realist” feature, I focus on one aspect of the game that deserves some hope for future success (Optimist), one that ellicits feelings of dread and negativity (Pessimist), and one thing that falls in the middle ground that is hard to argue against either way (Realist).

There wasn’t much to be celebrating from the Milwaukee Bucks90-76 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, but that certainly doesn’t mean there weren’t some encouraging opportunities for the Bucks to break out of their early season funk.

Blocking out Corey Maggette‘s 4-12 night from the floor and Carlos Delfino‘s disappearing act in the second half, the Milwaukee Bucks small forward position combined for 30 points, 8 rebounds, and two steals. Starting shooting guard John Salmons has been a Mr. Freeze level of cold all season, and his 2-14 night was filled with bad shots all over the floor. You can probably connect the dots to where I’m going with this…

Given the teams current inability to build any momentum offensively, and their lack of a consistent outside threat other than Carlos Delfino, a short term solution could be to slide Delfino over to the two and play Corey Maggette at the three to allow their high productivity the chance to compliment each other.

We saw that late in the third quarter, but with very little results to sway arguments one way or another, but Maggette’s addiction to high percentage shots at the rim and Delfino’s current pension for sniping along the perimeter have to be running through coach Scott Skiles‘ mind as he and his coaching staff brainstorm ways to develop some sort of offensive rhythm.

Corey MaggettePessimist
Back in July, John Salmons and Drew Gooden say in the Milwaukee Bucks media room, laughing and talking with reporters about their desire to play in Milwaukee and for Scott Skiles and how their skills can compliment the pieces already in place for the Bucks.

Four games into the season, Salmons is still getting his game legs back after sitting out the whole preseason and Gooden looks dazed and confused at times in Skiles’ system. There’s no question that both players have above league average talent, and neither is expected to carry the weight of the whole offense or defense.

But if losses continue to pile up and the team keeps looking unsure of itself while that happens, the Bucks bandwagon may start losing some passengers and the fact that both under performing players are expected to be in Milwaukee for a half decade will start to take a hit on GM John Hammond‘s reputation.

An early season slump was expected by some because of pre-season injuries to a few of the new faces, but there will come a point that the slump could morph into the reality that this team isn’t what we envisioned after a very exciting offseason. I think Gooden and Salmons will find their way soon, but the worst case scenario is going to always be sitting at the back of my mind until they prove otherwise.

“We haven’t come together as quick as we’ve liked,” Keyon Dooling said. “It’s still a young season, and we can only get better. We can’t get much worse.”

I described Saturday’s home opener as a must win for the Milwaukee Bucks, and they came through. Tuesday night’s game was very similar because of the potentially tough stretch coming up, and instead of even a close loss that was something to build on, the Bucks turned in a cold as ice performance that only added more questions to the list.

“We just continued to drive it in there and sling shots up,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We had trouble finding the open man tonight, they pretty much did whatever they wanted offensively pretty much the whole game.”

There’s little doubt that the Bucks will gel as one and play up to their potential, but right now they are experiencing the same hesitancy with the ball and lukewarm approach to games that afflicted them in the pre-season. Things aren’t going to get easier schedule-wise as the season goes on, but this team is too talented, too well-coached, and too smart to fail.

We still have a lot of season left to play, and it’s far too early to be drawing any long term conclusions based off a week’s worth of NBA basketball. As a Zen master once said about many things, “We’ll see.”

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  1. 16 first half points for Wesley Matthews… at one point scored 10 straight points for Portland… BOOM

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