Preview and Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

Kurt —  November 28, 2006

Thanks. Just want to say a quick thank you to Rob and Gatinho for holding down the fort here while I spent four days unplugged/with the family/overeating/mourning Notre Dame. Great job, as always, guys.

50 ways to beat the East. Looking for a good reason to bet the Lakers tonight? How about this: In the games so far between Eastern and Western conference teams, the West leads 51-18.

Another reason to like the Lakers tonight. The Bucks are banged up. Former Clipper and all around solid player Bobby Simmons has not stepped on the court yet. Then there was recently-acquired Charlie Villanueva, who through the first eight games of the season had been showing a consistency he lacked last season with a PER of 22.43, based largely on his good 55.7% True Shooting Percentage (like points per shot attempt) and that he was pulling down 16.1% of the available rebounds when he was on the floor. Then he tore a ligament in his elbow and is out for at least another month. The Bucks are not deep enough to absorb those losses, hence they are 2-8 in their last 10.

One more reason to like the Lakers. The Bucks have been horrible defensively, with a defensive ranking of 113.0 (points per 100 opponent possessions), next to last in the NBA. (The Lakers are 18th in the league at 107.4.) Good news for Smush (and Jordan Farmar, who found his three-point stroke against the Nets) is that point guards have been tearing up the Bucks. Bye-bye T.J. Ford, bye-bye defense, I guess. Opposing points are shooting 55.4% (eFG%), and over the course of a 48 minutes game are scoring 26 points and dishing out 11 assists.

The good news for the rest of the Lakers is the Bucks are not really defending any position well.

The Redd Rocker. The lone bright spot for the Bucks has been Michael Redd, who continues to prove he is one of the best pure shooters in the game. He carries about 26% of the team’s offense when he is on the floor — basically the same amount as Kobe does for the Lakers — and has a True Shooting Percentage of 59.7%, better than Kobe’s 59% (both are very good numbers, especially considering the offensive load).

And let me say on a personal note — Redd, your national team needs you.

Bringing up an old topic. I’m not sold that there are NBA referee conspiracies, for the same reason I don’t believe in government ones (no aliens at Area 51, no government plan to knock down the World Trade Center Towers) — to believe it ascribes a level of competence to the organization that I don’t think it has. I don’t think the US government is capable of killing JFK, covering up the evidence and keeping it quiet. They can’t do that with the little things for six months, but they can keep a presidential assasination quiet for decades?

The bigger problem for the NBA is that whether the refs are taking orders or not, a lot more people than John. R. think they are — check out this interesting post from Henry at True Hoop. Apparently some players and coaches think there is something to it. And, I think it’s safe to say that the NBA under Stern is more competant than the federal government ever has been, so….

Things to look for. The Lakers should dominate the Bucks on the boards; they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. The Bucks grab just 23.4% of their missed shots (next to last in the league, the Lakers are 12th at 28.5%), and they are also next to last in the league in giving up offensive rebounds (opposing teams grab 31.5% of their misses).

The guy who, if he gets hot, could be trouble for the Lakers is guard Maurice Williams. He takes the second most shots on the team but is shooting just 44.5% on the season. So long as he keeps up his season numbers the Lakers have little to worry about, but if he has a hot night the Bucks have a good backcourt.

This is the “easy” game before tough ones against the Clippers and Utah the rest of the week. This is the place good teams get a win. The Lakers need to keep winning these home games before the schedule toughens up.

to Preview and Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

  1. I guess the league conspiracy theory is a good explanation for why the Lakers won that series against Pheonix last season.

    Oh wait…


  2. One reason for NBA officiating controversy is the structure of basketball itself. Compared to baseball and football (American), basketball is just tougher to call. Baseball has relatively fewer controversies because the pace is measured and the action limited. Umpires generally do not need to make calls away from the ball. Football’s action is more complex to call, but the stop/start nature of the game gives officials time to reset. Instant replay helps as well. Basketball is the most fluid, non-stop of the three. The action is fast so mistakes are bound to happen.

    I imagine that hockey would be the closest to basketball to officiate, but I don’t know enough about the game to speak on it.


  3. Looks to me like there might be a “headband conspiracy” in Chicago.


  4. I’m not a big enough hockey fan to have an opinion, but I can tell you that what I hear from other hockey fans is that the officiating is equally dismal and there are just as many conspiracy theories floating around the NHL as there are in the NBA.

    Kurt, I have the East at 19-49 against the West. Either way, it’s bad. Eastern teams are losing almost 3 out of every 4 to the West.

    Tonight is one of those nervous games for me because I’m hoping the guys aren’t looking past the Bucks. Certainly, the game is theirs for the taking. I just hope they don’t take it for granted. As they say, that’s why they play the games. Teams always get up for the Lakers.


  5. Playoff teams win these games at home, especially before two tough ones. The Lakers have been winning, albeit ugly, agaisnt team like this at home, nothing should change tonite.

    One thing I’d love to see is Bynum have a good game against Andrew Bogut. Those two gys will both be solid centers for years to come, but Andrew should use his size to his advantage and re-establish some consistent play, or else we will be seeing Kwame starting soon


  6. By the way, I want to be the first to congratualte Clipper fans regarding the exciting news that Mike DUMBleavy is being extended. Cheers to 4 more years of not maximizing the talent on your roster


  7. In another lifetime (or at least it seems that way) I played and wrote (professionally) about hockey. The complaints about refs in that sport mirror basketball in that there is a feeling of inconsistency, from ref to ref, game to game, period to period. And the stars got some calls. That led to a lot of the theories, because there seems little other rhyme or reason to some calls.


  8. Whenever the consensus in a sport becomes one that the game is “rigged” or “fixed”, owners and commisioners know that their product becomes less desirable and thus less marketable. (Black Sox, Paul Hornung, Sonny Liston, Pete Rose, steroids, etc.)

    If a small market team’s fans feel that they are doomed by the refs from the start, then it becomes even tougher to fill seats. I think that history may show that the “large” market teams have won a majority of the championships, but dotted through NBA history are trophies for teams like Seattle, Portland, Washington, Miami, San Antonio, and Milwaukee. Not to mention the small market teams that made appearances in the Finals.

    I look at those who constantly play this card when things don’t go their team’s way, like those who complain about their beautiful girlfriend. The one they think is constantly cheating on them but aren’t sure.

    It doesn’t matter how beautiful she is, if you think she’s cheating on you, break up with her.


  9. Ironically, Jon at Dodger Thoughts in his discussion about Mark McGwire’s HOF candidacy wrote this about officiating:

    “I’ve long had a history of not allowing myself or encouraging others to use bad umpire calls as something to gripe over in a loss, even for the Dodgers. We go into every baseball game knowing that the umpires are human (oh, are they ever human), and you simply must be able to beat both the opponent and the umpires whenever necessary.

    If your victory depends on an umpire’s call, it’s not a convincing enough victory to be worth fighting over. That’s not to say that some bad calls aren’t particularly painful, but given that these things tend to even out over time, it’s just not worth losing your cool over. Don’t be bitter – be better.”


  10. The officiating in baseball is much, much better than basketball in my opinion. At the same time I would assume baseball is easier to officiate due to the slower pace.

    It seems like officials tend to keep games close. That would of course benifit the NBA, who would lose viewers if every playoff series was won by 25 points.

    Isn’t it possible that refs confer and say “hey, Phil’s been complaining about Bynum getting hacked, make sure to keep an eye out for that”?

    Regarding JFK – there are many entities that fall under the “US Government” label. It might be dangerous to laugh off things like Government involvement in stuff like this especially considering the conspiracies the government has admitted to being part of. That mentality increases the possibility of stuff like that happening in the future. In a matter only related by last name, see “Bobby”.

    By the way, does anyone here think Kobe gets the same calls as Wade? Call me a crazy Laker fan, but out of the pool of NBA superstars, I feel like Kobe doesn’t get the superstar treatment as often as others.


  11. Kobe gets some calls others don’t get driving to the hole, but compared to Lebron and Wade its not even close. Both of those guys are allowed to cross the ball over right to left without switching hands, always a carry that they get away with, and Wade doesnt not have any intention other than creating contact when he drives to the hole, and gets away with it. Coaches are noticing it and complaining.


  12. I have a problem with conspiracy theorists who can’t support their theories, or are too lazy to try.

    Specifically, what bothers me is when a person points to one call, or to one game, or even to a handful of games and asserts that on that basis there must be some sort of conspiracy. As if no further proof is necessary.

    That said, I’m not willing to totally dismiss the idea that conspiracies may exist. If they do exist, however, then the person making that accusation should, at the very least, offer up a testable hypothesis.

    Otherwise, the person making the accusation is just a nut job.


  13. If one looks at FTA averages per game, here’s the top ten: Wade, AI, Paul Pierce, LeBron, Carmelo, Yao, Zach Randolph, Michael Redd, Kobe, Chris Bosh.

    Kobe averages 9.3 per game. I think he gets treated all right by the refs on most nights. But he just makes the top ten. He might not get the “star treatment” that some fans feel he does.

    Also note the presence of Zach Randolph and Michael Redd. Do these names scream “NBA Conspiracy” to people? Randolph, for instance, has almost half as many FTA in 15 games this year as he did last season in 74. Why is this? The man has 5 years under his belt, none which saw him get to the line with this frequency. Oh, it must be that the NBA is cheating for Portland and giving Zach Randolph “star treatment”.

    Okay, I realize that my logic is unfair. Just because there are guys who legitimately get to the line a lot, it does not mean there are not guys the officials help out. But it at least means the officials might apply the new rules somewhat fairly if other players try to take advantage of them.


  14. We could always, as fans with internet connections, try to keep track of these things. We could set up a database and have people watch games and see how often a superstar gets the benefit of a questionable call or something. We COULD.


  15. Smush is attacking the rim again. That’s when he is at his best. Maybe the threat of Farmar taking his minutes has lit a fire under him?


  16. They shot 40% (and not very good from 3) and we’re still down 5. We should be outboarding them (though rebounds are close), but turnovers seem to be the difference. They shot the ball 12 more times than the Lakers. And Kobe shooting 1 for 7 doesn’t help. I’m sure Kobe will turn it around, but they’re shooting way too much.


  17. The defense was off tonight. But give the Bucks credit. They came out with intensity and just outplayed the Lakers over the 48. Maybe this will light a fire to get Utah and the Clippers.


  18. hey kurt and everyone. i was a nonstop commenting bastard last season here, took almost a total break from following b-ball in the summer, but still have been keeping up with your site since the season started.

    i love how the team is coming along, but man, it seriously pisses me off that it looks like no matter how good we ever get we’re probably gonna have the slackassed mindset of the shaq-kobe era. for the love of god, can we please play a game with passion BEFORE we’re 10 points down with half the fourth quarter gone??

    now i don’t recall the magic years too clearly, so i can’t say how often the showtime lakers took almost a night off. what i do remember is how they would go on these runs which were amazing how deeply they would eviscerate an opposing team.

    very “emotional” runs, you could say. they played with so much heart and passion, remember? with magic’s contagious joy at the helm they’d artfully tear their opponent a new one– all sorts of “wow” plays that’d work the home crowd up into more and more of an intense frenzy , which would make the visitors crumble to the ground.

    i see glimpses of that in this team. unfortunately they can’t keep a lead to save their lives. whatever they build it’s almost always gone in a couple minutes. drives me nuts. i go pee and come back, suddenly we’re down 5.

    playing hard doesn’t have to be drudgery, dammit. it can be a lot of fun.

    i think i said this last year, phil should show the team the start of rocky III where clubber lang is so unbelievably hungry he’s not just winning his fights, he’s freaking killing people. kind of kooky, but it perfectly fits phil’s m.o.

    i want a laker squad that’s offended by being on the court with some pitiful excuse for a team and wants to prove how superior they are hands down.


  19. I couldn’t see the game tonight. Who was guarding Redd most of the night?


  20. Why aren’t the Lakers feeding Bynum at the beginning of the game? Establishing the post opens up things for the perimeter players, so there not just hanging out shooting 3’s.