A friend of mine keeps talking about the Milwaukee Brewers and how excited she is because she scored some Opening Day tickets. I asked her why she wasn’t on the Bucks bandwagon? She asked “Should I be? Are they doing well?”
I’m like “Whaaa are you serious? The Bucks rule!” But I always say stuff like that, even when it isn’t true.
So as I’m tediously using Basketball-Reference’s Bucks “Schedule and Results” to catch up on a back log of Bucks games for the Bucks Win Chart (its about 4 games stale… you have to give me a little time on that), I started counting backwards to see if I could illustrate numerically how well the Green and Cardinal are doing. Doing so, I stunned myself with how good the Bucks are.
If you are in a conversation and you want to tell the other party how awesomely well the Bucks are doing, there is a bunch of ways to state your surprisingly strong case. Here are some samples:
(1) “They’ve lost one game in all of March”;
(2) “They’ve lost only 3 games since Valentine’s Day”;
(3) “They’ve won 9 of their last 10″;
(4) “They’re 15-3 since the All-Star break”;
(5) “They’ve won 21 out of their last 26 games”; or the best,
(6) “They’re 22-7 since February1st”
22-7?? Are you shitting me? How good are these Bucks??
Those are some mind-boggling statements, y’all. Even I didn’t realize what a powerful run this team is on.
Think if the season started on February 1st, and the Bucks started out 22-7. What would you think of them? What would your expectations be for the rest of the season?
Well, lets put things in perspective. 29 games is right around Christmas Day. Lets see where the big shots were then.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were 21-8 after 29 games. The Lakers were 24-5. The Magic were 20-9. The Nuggets were 20-9. The Hawks were 21-8. The Celtics were 23-6. Those are your championship contenders, folks.
Are the Bucks suddenly in league with them?
I know what you’re thinking. “Ty, you can’t cherry pick a portion of the season and say its comparable.”
In this case I think I can. This isn’t some random hot streak. The Bucks that have played the last 29 games are clearly distinguishable from the Bucks team that played the earlier schedule. Thus they can be treated as a new team.
Indeed, if you discount the disastrous Michael Redd comeback period of the season, this team is really, really good. And the other significant difference is they’ve benched Charlie Bell for good.
Frankly, I don’t know. My mind has been so revamped and kind of disoriented in the last two months. Its like all of the ridiculously positive Milwaukee Bucks “this could happen… that could happen” theories that we kick around in the comments section have suddenly materialized at once. Its like a dream.
The team is much, much better than I ever thought they could be. Their offense is improved just enough and their defense since the All-Star break has been unbelievable. Just unbelievable. Its Scott Skiles basketball writ large. Its what I knew would happen, what I predicted would happen, the moment Scott Skiles signed his name on that Bucks coaching contract. I knew the days of watching those unwatchable, disgusting no-defense, no-effort Bucks teams were all over. And Boy Howdy, are they ever.
It all came together at once, though. That’s what makes it so disorienting. Its like Skiles has been working that damn Rubik’s Cube for a season and a half, making progress on it, gettin the colors lined up right, and then all of a sudden when they traded for Salmons and forced Bell to the bench, the sucker was solved.
As soon as they were able to permanently remove Charlie Bell from the line-up it all came together, like a movie sequence or something (did you notice their one total crap effort in a long time came when Bell was forced back into the rotation against the Clippers?).
Like when Bump Bailey ran into the wall and the New York Knights finally had to put Roy Hobbs in the lineup. And then you see the team go from hapless to unstoppable in a montage sequence set to music. That’s been the Bucks since the Salmons trade.
As soon as Bell, the Bump Bailey of the Milwaukee Bucks, left the lineup for good, the wins came. Bell was a guy I identified as a huge loss producer a long, long time ago (in fact I speculated that he may be the largest “loss contributor” in Bucks history), while others (adjusted +/-) inexplicably had Bell amongst the best guards in the conference. That was foolish, and now it looks downright stupid.
But what does it all mean? I don’t know people. A win over the Celtics. A win in Denver. A win over the Hawks. An easy win over the Jazz. Several beatdowns of the Miami Heat. This team is good. I am so psyched for the playoffs I can’t even describe the feeling. I can’t remember a run of dominance like this since the 80s.
I can’t wait to see where this train ride ends. Maybe we will end up really disappointed. But thank God were good enough to be really disappointed again, you know what I mean?
Excitement is growing. Fourth and State, the Bradley Center, is the place to be this spring. Damn that’s good to write.