Bucks extend their Andrew Bogut-less winning streak, and other positive observations

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By Jake McCormick

I believe it was Monty Python who first said, “Always look on the bright side of life.” No more has that musical sentiment rang true for the Milwaukee Bucks than in the two games of the post-Andrew Bogut era.

Without their star big man, the Bucks have been forced to rely on their veterans more than ever on both ends of the court. It has paid off so far against the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets, as Milwaukee outrebounded both teams offensively and defensively and extended their winning streak to three games.

The Bucks will be really put to the test over their final four games, and it’s hard to place a lot of confidence in their ability to overachieve without the focal point of their offense. But even as Milwaukee’s chances for an extended playoff run have diminished faster than a slug covered in salt, a lot of positives can still be taken out of this season and whatever lies ahead in the postseason.

Dan Gadzuric/Kurt Thomas hilarity
If you’ve been to a Bucks game this year where Kurt Thomas hit a mid-range jumper, you know what I mean when I say that his stadium theme is audible chocolate. Regardless of what happens the rest of this year, Thomas’ video game song will keep you laughing until the clock strikes midnight on the 2009-10 season.

As for Danny Gadz, let’s just say that Skiles should require Velcro shoes if he ever wants to play more than 10 minutes a game again. The least Gadzuric could do is ensure his shoes will not hinder his ability to miss open layups, mistime rebounds, or trip over those dangerous cracks in the Bradley Center floor. Coincidentally, as I wrote this paragraph Gadz pulled in eight rebounds, fell once, and actually was a big part of keeping Brook Lopez at bay.

Future is still bright/window is just opening
Lost in the newfound bleak outlook is the fact that the Bucks have grown faster than Mark McGwire’s biceps between 1990 and 1991. Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut are franchise cornerstones. Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are already solid role players, and all four have yet to hit their potential ceilings.

Throw in the Bucks’ nine draft picks over the next three years with oodles of money to spend after the 2010-11 season, and Milwaukee will continue to improve under the guide of Skiles and GM John Hammond, who has become the King Midas of executives.

Experience is experience is experience
Even with Bogut, Milwaukee’s best case scenario would’ve probably been a second round exit or seven game first round series against the Celtics/Hawks. Now they’ll be lucky to win more than a game (I switch from optimist to pessimist pretty fast, but that’s what happens when spirits are crushed harder than Bogut’s hand during his fall).

Despite the team’s lightning fast transition from the team “nobody wants to play” to the team “everyone wants to play,” Milwaukee’s young bucks will benefit from the postseason atmosphere and pressure. When Bogut returns next year, and if the Bucks can make another run towards the playoffs, they’re experiences in a few weeks will go a long way in making them a popular sleeper pick again.

Final three games
The Bucks’ last three regular season games just got a whole lot more interesting. As Atlanta, Boston, and Milwaukee have already punched their tickets to the playoffs, the Bucks will most likely use the last three games of the season against these two teams to tune themselves up and gain some pre-postseason experience against their first round competition.

Bogut’s left handed shot
The fall seen ’round the NBA will go down in infamy as one of the most brutal on-court freak accidents ever. Bogut has six weeks before he can start rehabbing a right arm/hand that looked more mangled than Chris Elliot’s in Scary Movie 2. But once he gets back onto the court, it will be interesting to see if he takes a page out of Greg Oden’s rehab book and starts developing a shot with his left hand.

Bogut was already well on his way to becoming household name in discussions about classic centers, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t come back strong from this type of an injury. If he does start becoming ambidextrous, Bogut would enter that next level of stardom come the 2010-11 season.

As Milwaukee celebrates the bittersweet taste of its first playoff berth since 2005, the team’s expectations for 2011 and beyond have grown faster than Alice after she ate the magic mushroom. Considering where the Bucks were at the beginning of the season (read any preseason power ranking for more information), the 2009-10 season will always be remembered as a remarkable feat of overachievement.

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