6th Fan Blogger: Bucks vs. Grizzlies

March 28, 2010
Jake LeRoy

The Value of a Good Home

My wife and I recently completed an exhausting, and at times extremely frustrating, search for our first home. Our home court, if you will. One of the first things we learned to look for was the quality of the foundation. We saw houses with foundations that were perfectly sound, houses with foundations riddled with cracks, and houses with rounded foundations that looked to be on the verge of birthing a whole lot of earth. Needless to say, we learned the importance of a strong foundation in a hurry.

While a dependable foundation is the backbone to a good home, a solid home-court advantage is the backbone to a winning season. With the exception of a few ugly blowouts, the Bucks have played really well at the Bradley Center this year. They’re 24-11 at the BC this year with four of those losses coming by two points or less. Oddly enough, though, the other seven losses have all come by double digits. So the home games this year have played out like a Jekyll and Hyde routine. Either Milwaukee wins or narrowly loses, or gets blown out. There really hasn’t been an in-between. But I digress.

Getting back on point, Milwaukee’s success at home has been the driving force behind this playoff run. The Bucks are outscoring visiting opponents by an average of 3.1 points per game on the season, good enough for 12th in the league. Having success at home is even more important for a team like the Bucks, who are still trying to find a way to consistently win on the road.

The losses to Philly and Miami certainly weren’t pretty, so the Bucks really need to track down the home-court mojo that was MIA in those contests. They only have five more home games remaining after today, with two potentially big meetings with Boston and Atlanta closing out the home schedule. Those games may mean nothing to the Celtics and Hawks, which would help, but they’ll likely be huge for Milwaukee. The Bucks will need wins in those games to help ensure a top-6 playoff seed and build momentum for the postseason. If they want any chance at advancing to the second round, they’ll need to win at home because stealing two games on the road isn’t an easy task for any team, let alone a young team lacking in playoff experience.

One of the biggest factors in developing a home-court advantage is the enthusiasm and loudness of the home-court crowd. Squad 6 has certainly helped in that respect, but the Bucks will need arena-wide contributions down the stretch. We need to make the BC a house of horrors for visiting teams. We need to send the opposition home with no desire to ever return. We need to will the Bucks to victory.

In-game Musings

  • Marc Gasol has got one busy week ahead of him. Gasol will be suiting up for the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and handling his responsibilities as the mascot for the West Virginia men’s basketball team on Saturday and, potentially Monday. That’s a full calendar.
  • Hasheem Thabeet has a really unusual stride. He’s a bit of a foot shuffler. When he runs, his feet barely leave the ground and he also leans slightly forward. I would imagine he’s prone to tripping over anything thicker than a pencil. I can picture him shuffling around his home in slippers, picking up all sorts of static electricity, shocking stuff.
  • Prior to tip-off this afternoon, assistant coach Adrian Griffin put Dan Gadzuric through a 10-minute drill focusing on offensive rebounding and going back up strong. Griffin simply threw it off the backboard, Gadzuric went up and got it, and laid it in. He was working hard and he looked good doing so, but it failed to carry over into the game today. Gadzuric had multiple opportunities in the second quarter that he didn't convert. Hopefully the extra work will start paying off.
  • Some of you may have noticed that Luke Ridnour started the second half in place of Charlie Bell. Not only was Bell not in the lineup, he wasn’t even on the bench. He re-emerged six minutes into the second half, about 30 seconds after his alma mater Michigan State defeated Tennessee to advance to the Final Four. Coincidence? I think not. I believe it’s entirely possible that fellow Spartan Scott Skiles granted Bell permission to catch the closing minutes :)
  • The Bucks were too careless in the second half. They turned the ball over six times in the third quarter and five times in the fourth and OT, and it was often a case of playing sloppy basketball. There were numerous instances when a Buck would simply throw an ill-advised pass. When you’re only shooting 43 percent as a team, you can’t afford to give possessions away. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
  • It was great seeing Brandon Jennings finishing in the lane today. Scoring in close has been an issue for Jennings for much of the season, but not today. He scored 14 of his 29 points in the paint, including numerous nifty lay-ups and a clutch floater with less than a minute remaining in regulation. He still needs to learn how to effectively draw contact and avoid getting his shot blocked, but he’s getting there.
  • That was a very questionable call on Jennings at the end of regulation. Jennings appeared to fly right by Conley. Tough call at any time of the game, really tough on literally the last play of the game. Maybe it evened up with the non-call on the O.J. Mayo three-point attempt at the end of overtime.

Closing It Out
Now that’s more like it. It wasn’t always pretty, but a win’s a win and the Bucks needed it. Milwaukee was able to do just enough to secure the victory. The Bucks didn’t shoot all that well, but I thought the offense was much more crisp than it was the previous two games. There was drastically-improved ball movement, as evidenced by the 25 assists — including eight from Jennings, seven from Ridnour and six from John Salmons — on 38 made baskets.

Jennings and Bogut both broke out of their respective mini-slumps with solid showings this afternoon. Jennings filled up the stat sheet with 24 points, eight dimes, seven boards and four swipes, while Bogut returned from a one-game hiatus with 18 points, 11 boards, four blocked shots and two charges taken. Salmons had one of his patented quietly-efficient games with 25 points, six rebounds and six assists. Ersan Ilyasova was big off the pine late in the game with two key offensive rebounds that resulted in five points, a huge three-pointer with 1:37 left in regulation and a big steal with 17 seconds left.

It’s definitely good to be back on the winning track. Memphis has a reputation for being a poor team, but it’s a squad full of hungry youth that had made significant strides this year. This was, by no means, a victory over a weak team. This was a quality win over a good opponent and one the Bucks will hopefully be able to build on.

Work hard. Play hard. Type hard.

Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.

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