Ballin' With Boylan: 11/12/10

By Britt Clement
11/12/10

Coming off wins in their back-to-back set against New York and Atlanta, Jim Boylan chatted about the team's performance over the last few games.

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"The New York game was probably our most complete game defensively," Boylan said. "There were very few breakdowns and we really implemented our style of defense and kind of imposed our will on the New York Knicks.

"For us to be a successful team this season, we need to do that on a consistent basis. I know some nights there are going to be teams that make shots or just have so much talent that we have a difficult time defending them. But there are a lot of teams out there that if we play the way we did against the Knicks, we can really be one of the best defensive teams in the league."

Following the New York game (last Tuesday) the team flew to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Wednesday. It was their fourth straight back-to-back set as they lead the league in back-to-backs this year (23).

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"I think we backed that up (the defensive effort) when we went to Atlanta," Boylan noted. "Our guys were a little bit tired getting in late, but we were still able to find some energy from our second unit. That energy spilled over back into our starting unit. I think the depth that we added in the offseason showed itself in the Atlanta game.

"Between our defense coming together and our team as a whole kind of finding its pace a little bit at both ends of the floor, I think you've seen in the last week, potentially, the kind of team we can be. Hopefully, we can continue that trend as we move forward here and as the schedule gets a little easier for us as far as having games with days off in between. The beginning of the season was tough because of the amount of games we had to play, the amount of back-to-backs and the travel involved. Hopefully, now with the schedule moving back in our favor a little bit we can gain some traction and get ourselves back to .500 and go from there and hopefully get above .500."

After recapping the last two games, I gave some stats to Boylan and asked him for his reaction and to note how significant these numbers were. I started by noting that the team has allowed 91 points or less for four consecutive games. The non-lockout season record for the franchise is five, set last year...

"It's definitely significant because we don't walk the ball up and down the floor, we try to get up and try to get into our offense early," Boylan said. "There are a lot of possessions and a lot of opportunities for teams to score over 100 points against us. Our defense has been really solid lately, so there is significance to that number, there's no doubt about that."

The Bucks will face the seventh-highest scoring offense in the NBA in Golden State on Saturday (104.7). If they're looking to match the franchise's mark of five straight of 91 points or less, it'll be a challenge.

"Against Golden State you have two guys who average almost 50 points a game in Monta Ellis (26.8 points, second in the NBA) and Stephen Curry (21.0)," Boylan said. "We have to be really concerned about them and not letting one or both of them have really big nights, which they're capable of doing. Our defense on the perimeter is going to have to be really sharp. Usually when you face guys who have scoring ability like they do, it's not just the guy who is guarding him, but the whole team that has to get involved to slow those two guys down. We'll rely on our team defense. One of the keys to Golden State, similar to what the Knicks try to do, is to get the ball in the middle of the floor, draw the defense in and then make their plays to the perimeter. We have to try to keep the ball from getting to the middle and make them play their initial offensive attack on the perimeter so they can't get in tight and expose their perimeter shooters. So we'll have to do similar things to what we did against the Knicks."

The next note I brought up was that in each of the Bucks wins this season, they've had one player reach at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists. Brandon Jennings has done it three times to rank among the league leaders and John Salmons has done it once.

Here is Boylan's reaction: "If you're consistently getting those numbers out of people - to get those numbers in those categories means that you're playing hard. Scoring comes in the flow of the game, but you have to go and get rebounds. It's nice to see that we have that and it would be nice to have multiple guys doing that. The key to winning in the NBA these days is to come out and play harder than the team you're playing against. If you're doing that, you have a chance to win the game. That's kind of the mantra that we go by and statistics like that indicates that the guys are out there really playing hard."

The last thing I showed Boylan was a chart displaying the Bucks defensive numbers from the two seasons before he arrived with Coach Skiles' staff and in the seasons that they've been here (08-09, 09-10, 10-11). Before Friday's games the Bucks were third in opponents' points (91.3), sixth in defensive field goal percentage (43.5), sixth in opponents 3-point percentage (31.7), ninth in opponent turnovers (16.7) and 11th in points differential (+2.3). Here are the numbers in those respective categories in the 2007-08 season (year before they took over): 103.9 ppg (23rd), 48.0 FG% (29th), 38.4 3FG% (27th), 13.7 TOs (15th) and -6.9 differential (27th).

To continue on those numbers ... Last year the team held foes under 90 points a franchise record 28 times. In the two full seasons with Skiles they've done it 45 times compared to 12 in the previous two years.

Boylan's response: "We pride ourselves on being a good defensive team, so if you are a good defensive team the idea is to have your opponent shoot a low percentage and not score a lot of points. We believe the way that we defend gives us the best chance to do that. The way we teach it and the way we hold our guys accountable and the way our players embrace it all factor in.

"We keep a lot of stats in what we do defensively and there's a lot of pride taken when the guys get those stats. They look over those things and have a competition going between themselves. They know when they look at the stats from an individual game whether or not they did what they needed to do. To see those numbers going down the way they have over the last three seasons is a positive thing for our team."