Jake's Take: Run, Bucks, Run - 12/27/10
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]
Bucks vs Hawks
One of the most quoted lines from one of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump, goes as follows: "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." I think that simple, yet enlightening, analogy describes Milwaukee's season to perfection, especially considering the 45-point swing between the team's 26-point loss in Portland and its 19-point win in LA one night later. Like Milwaukee's season, Forrest Gump's life experienced numerous twists and turns. What follows are a few key moments from the Bucks' season and how they compare to some notable scenes from Forrest Gump.
Lieutenant Dan finding his sea legs = Andrew Bogut overcoming his injured elbow. Lieutenant Dan lost his legs in horrifying fashion while serving in Vietnam. He eventually overcame the injury while shrimping with Forrest, redirecting his life path in the process. Bogut destroyed his arm in horrifying fashion last season and it was evident in the early part of the season that all wasn't quite right. A brief five-game absence in late November seems to have cured what ailed Bogut as he has returned to form with averages of 17.3 points, 12 boards and 3.1 blocks since, redirecting his season in the process.
Vietnam raining from every direction = Milwaukee missing shots from every location. According to Forrest, it rained "little bitty stingin' rain and big ol' fat rain, and it flew sideways and straight up from underneath." The Milwaukee offense struggled to consistently shots for what felt like the longest time, missing jumpers and layups from 22 feet and two feet. The rain in Vietnam eventually subsided, just like Milwaukee's offensive woes have started to dissipate.
Forrest investing in Apple = Milwaukee investing in CDR. Following the advice of Lieutenant Dan, Forrest invested in an, at the time, little known company called Apple Computers. This small investment helped Forrest become a gazillionaire. The Bucks made a similarly small investment when they traded a second-round pick for the moderately-priced CDR. Just like Forrest got a big return on his investment, Milwaukee has received a still-increasing return on its investment.
Forrest getting shot in the buttocks = Brandon Jennings breaking a bone in his foot. While serving in the line of duty in Vietnam, Forrest catches a bullet in the buttocks that leaves him in great pain. Despite the great pain, Forrest still manages to carry Bubba, Lieutenant Dan and others to safety, earning himself a purple heart. Jennings broke his foot in San Antonio and still played the next 1.5 games despite what I'm sure was great discomfort. The health of a person's buttocks is vital to their day-to-day functionality, just like the health of Jennings is essential to Milwaukee's long-term success.
Forrest learning how to play ping pong = Earl Boykins getting more playing time. Ping pong was an untapped skill for Forrest that was only uncovered once he was wounded in the buttocks. Boykins had played sparingly before Jennings got injured but once he started getting significant burn, it became obvious how valuable he could be. Just like Forrest never would've been a world champion without ping pong, Milwaukee probably wouldn't have beaten the Lakers and Kings without Boykins.
Scenes hopefully to come: Forrest running through the water at the Washington Monument toward Jenny = Carlos Delfino running through the snow toward Milwaukee's active roster; Forrest running for three years, two months, 14 days and 16 hours = Milwaukee playing for one month, 29 days and 22 hours in the playoffs; and Forrest running his way to All-American status = Ersan Ilyasova pump-faking his way to All-NBA status.
- So I'm making my way into the Bradley Center tonight and security is checking my laptop case before I take my seat. A gentleman - approximately 6-foot-2, 225 pounds - was standing in front of me getting his seating situation figured out. I politely say excuse me and make my way past, accidently clipping the gentleman with my laptop. I turn around to apologize and quickly realize the inexcusable blunder I've just made. This fella was no ordinary fella, this was Aaron Rodgers, barely 24 hours after throwing for 400-plus yards and four touchdowns. Paranoia immediately set in and my mind started racing about the implications of this slip-up. Has my carelessness put Rodgers' availability for next week in jeopardy? Am I about to be the reason the Packers miss the playoffs? Common sense thankfully returned and I realized that a hit from Justin Tuck will probably have more impact than any hit I could ever administer, foreign object or not. Still, I've got to be more careful. There is no room for such recklessness come playoff time.
- I almost forgot the comments Josh Smith made about Milwaukee last year during the first round of the playoffs. The Bradley Center crowd quickly reminded me, though, booing Smith during the pregame introductions and in every touch thereafter. A well-deserved booing if there ever was one.
- I don't think there's any doubt the Atlanta bench hasn't forgotten how badly it was outplayed when Milwaukee came to the ATL. The Bucks bench spearheaded a 33-14 second-quarter Milwaukee run and finished the game with a combined 57 points on 24-40 shooting. Tonight, the Hawks bench expanded on an early lead established by the starting unit, pushing it to as high as 16 points in the second quarter before giving away to the starters. The foursome of Marvin Williams, Jeff Teague, Maurice Evans and Jamal Crawford combined for 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting in the first half.
- Jon Brockman joined the Bucks in the offseason with the reputation of being one of the best hustle rebounders in the game. The stats confirmed that reputation as he was sixth in the league in offensive rebound rate a year ago. His rebounding numbers have dipped across the board this season, but he was a lot more active in the first half tonight. Brockman pulled down five rebounds (two offensive) in just five minutes of action.
- Milwaukee was much better in the third quarter, but it still wasn't enough to cut the lead to single digits after the frame. The Bucks held Atlanta to 20 points and under 50 percent for the quarter, cutting their deficit to 10 points. They still allowed too many open jumpers, though, namely numerous flat-footed top-of-the-key jumpers from Al Horford. John Salmons was the catalyst for the offense, hitting all four of his attempts en route to a 12-point quarter.
Closing It Out
And so the roller coaster continues. This season has been one of extreme highs (road wins over the Mavs and Lakers) and tremendous lows (double-digit losses to Minnesota and Detroit). You never know what Bucks team will show up from quarter to quarter, half to half, or game to game. Tonight's team was the one I would prefer not show up. It feels like for every one step forward the Bucks take, they always take another step backward. Consistency has been an elusive endeavor.
Milwaukee was solid in the second and third quarters, winning that pair of quarters by a point. The first and fourth quarters were a different story, though. The Bucks shot just 7-of-19 in the first and 6-of-20 in the fourth, losing those quarters by a combined 14 points. It's been said all year long: Basketball is a 48-minute game and if you don't show up for all 48, you're going to have a hard time winning.
Keyon Dooling wasn't hitting his jumper, but he was still probably the best Buck tonight. Dooling finished with 15 points, nine assists and just one turnover. Bogut added a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, but shot just 7-of-19 from the floor. Salmons led the team with 18 points but didn't do much outside of the third quarter.
Atlanta's big frontcourt of Smith, Horford and Jason Collins caused fits for the Milwaukee frontcourt. The Hawks' trio finished with 35 points and 29 rebounds, including a season-high 12 boards from Collins. Milwaukee's starting frontcourt of Bogut, Ilyasova and CDR combined to score just 20 points and pull down 14 boards. Atlanta also featured a balanced offensive attack with five players in double digits, ranging from 13 to 18 points. All told, the Hawks outshot the Bucks by greater than 13 percent, a number not easy to overcome.
The Bucks opened up their three-game West Coast trip with an ugly loss to Portland but were able to rebound the following night with a thrashing of the Lakers. They'll have a chance to rebound again when they face the Bulls in Chicago Tuesday night. I'm going to chalk Monday's loss up to a four-day layoff that left the team rusty. They'll have no excuse if the same things transpire against the Bulls.
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.