Bucks Open Season With Back-to-Back Wins
Heading into the season, it's easy to see how badly the Milwaukee Bucks want to win. GM John Hammond is going with a uniquely dynamic, very undersized, highly energetic back-court and built a tall, lanky front-court around them. In short, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are going to need some help on offense and defense in order for this team to make the playoffs.
Tobias Harris and Mike Dunleavy are both tall shooting forwards. The center and power forward spots have been melded together with an interchangeable, turn-style of long big men. It will not be uncommon to see any combination of Samuel Dalembert, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and John Henson and Luc Mbah a Moute when they recover from injury.
Those two guards may be a liability on the defensive end every night, but if guards want to try and drive the lane on them, there is going to be a big wall of defenders blocking the hoop. Points in the paint for opposing guards may be hard to come by this year against the Bucks. Jennings and Ellis may have already been told to guard tight on their man and to defend closely on perimeter shots. Two very quick, tiny guards, eight big men and a necessity to find the open man could be a formula for success.
Two games into the season, fans are seeing this formula executed.
Friday, November 2nd, the Bucks completely destroyed the Boston Celtics in the Garden. The next night, at their home opener, Jennings hit a three-pointer as time expired to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The only thing in common between these first two games, is they ended in wins. Game 1: Milwaukee pretty much handled the Celtics for most of the game which was a blowout. Game 2: The Cavs kept nipping at Milwaukee's heals until the game was tied at 102 a piece before Jennings nailed the game winning basket.
Two glaring stats from those two wins: First, the Bucks had five or more players score in double figures in both games; a sign that the ball is being spread around to the open man. Which it is because Milwaukee had 26 assists in Boston and 32 against the Cavs. 32 assists!
Teams go an entire season without sharing the ball that many times in a single game, which the 2012-2013 New York Knicks might fail to do. The Bucks did it in their second game and I believe ball sharing for this club will be a recurring theme. I know coach Scott Skiles will be instilling unselfishness all season long.
Some may think Jennings is a score first PG, but I do not agree. He's a pass first PG that can score and wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. But I think he would rather dish out 10 APG and go to the playoffs than score 25 PPG and lose on a nightly basis.
This is Jennings' team and Hammonds definitely put some solid pieces around him. I don't think fans have to worry about whether Jennings and Ellis can play together to make a playoff run. I believe it's up to Skiles to maximize the hustle and efficiency out of the players he has, because this team could be a 6, 7 or 8 seed in the playoffs.
Don't expect 30 plus assists every night, however for this team to win, fans should expect an abundance of ball sharing and a different leading scorer from game-to-game. In two games thus far, this team has the proof that this is a recipe for winning.