6th Fan Blogger: Bucks at Hawks - Game 2 - 4/20/10
The Anatomy of a Leader
There are many different adjectives that can be used to describe a leader. Strong, smart, resourceful, reliable and fearless are a few that immediately spring to mind. There are also numerous methods of leading; vocally and by example are the approaches most often found in sports. It's not easy to find a player in any sport that can encompass each of those characteristics and lead their team with different philosophies. The Bucks may have found one, though, with Andrew Bogut.
As the longest-tenured Buck outside of Michael Redd, an increased leadership role should be expected of Bogut. He's certainly been up to the task. When he was in uniform, he led on the court by spearheading and directing the defense while providing the lone interior option on offense. He led from the sidelines by consistently barking out orders and being among the first players to greet his teammates at a stoppage in play.
Things haven't changed a whole lot now that he's out of uniform, outside of the fact that his ability to provide on-court leadership has been drastically diminished, of course. His presence on the bench shouldn't be undervalued, though. He's parked himself next to the coaching staff on the bench and is providing as much direction as he can given his current state.
The mere fact that he's even there is a testament to his dedication to this team. Bogut is half-man, half-machine at this point so I couldn't necessarily fault him if he decided to stay behind. But he's taken his leadership role to heart and I'm sure his teammates have noticed. Offering instructions from the sideline not only helps the Bucks right now, but I think it solidifies his role as the true leader of this franchise going forward.
It's impossible for me not to respect a guy like Bogut. He's a guy who busts his butt on a nightly basis and provides his team with the kind of player guidance that every successful team needs. Guidance from the coaching staff is obviously important, but quality leadership from the team's best player is often the difference between a losing team and a winning team. Whether it's taking a charge in the paint, or leading in the huddle, Bogut is providing this franchise with a leader it can build around.
- That was really poor communication on the first-quarter Josh Smith alley-oop. I didn't see anybody talking as Smith ran down the court past three Bucks completely untouched. I feel like I see at least one Smith alley-oop in every Atlanta postgame highlight reel so there's no reason the Bucks shouldn't have been expecting that, or at least looking for it.
- Can I get a pump fake from anybody? Smith and Al Horford are foaming at the mouth waiting to block a shot, and the Bucks are playing right into it. After getting denied 11 times in Game 1, I would've thought Milwaukee would've adjusted. The Bucks have to start doing something to get their shot off better. Otherwise there's going to Spalding imprints on everybody's forehead.
- As I've mentioned before, Delfino loves that baseline reverse. He executed two beautiful reverses within two minutes of each other in the second quarter. Delfino can, without a doubt, stroke the ball from deep, but I think he's most effective when he's taking it to the hole.
- It was, at times, an extremely frustrating first half. But it's hard to complain about being down only six going into halftime after heading into the locker room down 20 in Game 1. As a team, the Bucks aren't settling for jumpers, are moving the ball well and are keeping the Hawks off the offensive glass. Individually, the power forward tandem of Ersan Ilyasova and The Prince carried the team, combining for 21 points, 12 rebounds and 9-of-13 shooting. The Prince provided the offense in the first quarter with Ilyasova taking over in the second.
- It wasn't a secret that Bogut's absence would hurt Milwaukee's interior defense. But it's been downright devastating thus far. Smith and Horford had their way down low in the first game with 27 points (on 54.1 percent shooting), 17 rebounds and nine blocks in the first game. Not much has changed in Game 2 as they've combined for 36 points (on 71.4 percent shooting), 17 boards and three blocks through three quarters tonight.
- Salmons is working hard out there, but he's just not getting any help and he looks exhausted because of it. I can appreciate what Salmons is trying to do, attempting to put the team on his shoulders. He's become a ball-stopper in the fourth quarter, though. Salmons is getting the ball and looking to score immediately, and he's not really looking to get anyone else involved. Not that anybody else out there is hitting anyways.
Closing It Out
Tonight played out in the exact opposite fashion of Game 1. The Bucks were solid from the first through the third quarter, but completely fell apart in the fourth, as opposed to last game when they were solid from the second through the fourth and awful in the first. Either way, though, they need to start showing up for 48 minutes instead of 36. Thirty-six minutes of good basketball isn't going to win a playoff game.
There's not a whole lot else to say about this game. When it comes right down to it, basketball is a game of putting the ball in the basket. Tonight, one team did that and the other team didn't. The Bucks got their fair share of open jumpers, but just didn't connect. It's not going to be easy to get any open looks against this Atlanta defense, but when they do they need to make them. Ball movement would do a great deal toward improving that shooting percentage. Milwaukee assisted on only 49 percent of their baskets and shot 41.1 percent. Atlanta assisted on 68 percent of their baskets and shot 47.5 percent. Coincidence ... I think not.
Winning on the road in the playoffs is never easy. Let's just hope that winning at home proves a little easier. I'm anticipating a supreme effort from the Bucks on Saturday, and I'm hoping for a great turnout at the BC to help spur Milwaukee to victory.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.