Jake's Take: Playing Through Pain - 01/24/11
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]
Bucks at Bulls
A certain quarterback from a certain losing football team has taken his fair share of flack since the injury for his perceived lack of toughness. Players and their ability to play through pain are constantly put under the microscope. A player’s toughness is relentlessly questioned if they sit out with what a naive person may consider a minor injury. Playing through pain has essentially become a requirement to play professional sports.
That’s a risky prerequisite, too. So much pressure is put on professional athletes to gut out injuries that they’re putting themselves at further risk on a nightly basis. Sure, guidelines have been outlined protecting athletes from severe long-term ailments that result from injuries like concussions. Those rules and regulations don’t generally govern the smaller knick-knack injuries that accumulate over time, though. These are the kind of injuries that athletes may be able to play through, but they won’t be able to perform at their highest level.
Me, I’ve never been put in the position where I had to make a choice. I’ve had a few broken bones, but they came before organized sports were in the picture. I’ve really only had one experience that could be considered even remotely close to playing through pain. I was suffering through a severely enflamed case of tennis elbow and it was drastically affecting my running forehand. It was horrible. I am proud to say that I powered through and finished out the season before having my right arm amputated at the elbow. I was truly dedicated to my craft.
This injury alone obviously doesn’t make me an authority on playing through pain. I’m not going to pretend to be either. If Drew Gooden’s plantar fasciitis is flaring up, then he knows what he’s capable of doing. If John Salmons has a bum hip, then he’s got a bum hip. Nobody but Salmons knows the extent of his injury and outsiders shouldn’t pretend that they do.
Unless it involves a certain overly-tipsy quarterback. Then it’s completely acceptable to assume he’s a silly little girly man. As a matter of fact, it’s encouraged.
- I’m not quite sure what to make of CDR’s inconsistent aggressiveness. Some games he comes out and is looking to score immediately. Recent consecutive games in which he averaged 27 points on 16.5 shots in 38.5 minutes are perfect examples of CDR being the right kind of aggressive. Since then, he’s averaging just 3.5 points on 3.8 shots in 20.5 minutes of play over six games. The minutes may be substantially less, but I think that’s because he’s lacked the level of aggressiveness that makes him successful. Thankfully, it looks like he’s returned to a high level of aggressiveness tonight with nine shots in the first half. CDR is one of the best creators on the Bucks and they need him to use that creativity on a more regular basis.
- Of course Kurt Thomas picks tonight to start hitting some jumpers. Thomas did a lot of good things for the Bucks last year, but hitting open jumpers wasn’t one of him. He hit just 45.2 percent from 10-15 feet last year, which isn’t horrible for your average player who is forced to create offense. Considering most of his attempts came off pick-and-pops that left him wide open, I wouldn’t consider that percentage too fantastic. Thomas has been even worse this year, connecting on just 35.7 percent from that range. But tonight? He’s dropping in 15 footers as if the hoop were Lake Michigan.
- Tonight’s first half was one of the sloppiest the Bucks have played this year. The sloppiness was primarily in the areas of ball control and rebounding. Milwaukee turned the ball over nine times in the first half and many of them were bad passes that either were telegraphed or didn’t find their mark. While Andrew Bogut did all he could with 15 boards in the half, he got almost zero help from his mates. It seemed like if Bogut either didn’t grab the board or box out three guys simultaneously nobody else was going to pull down a board, which resulted in seven offensive rebounds for the Bulls. Chicago’s a good enough team now that you can’t continually give them second chances.
- Ersan Ilyasova has developed a bad habit of taking long 2-pointers. I’m fine if he wants to pop a jumper from a couple feet inside the arc. He way too often rises up with a toe or a heel on the arc, though. He always seems to make those shots, but that makes it even worse. If he would just back up another three inches he would get three points instead of two. On the bright side, he has very rudely introduced Carlos Boozer to the pump fake. Through three quarters, Boozer has thrice fallen for the pump fake in embarrassing fashion.
- The Prince may never fully develop the kind range on his jump shot that everyone wants, but he can still remain somewhat effective offensively. Tonight showed what he brings to the table offensively. On three occasions, The Prince made a very forceful, yet controlled drive to the basket, finishing on each occasion. He can be really good around the rim. It’s just a matter of getting him there.
Closing It Out
Two things happened tonight that seem to happen way too often to the Bucks and often result in losses. The first is they once again let a secondary player make a significant impact. If your defense holds Derrick Rose, Boozer and Luol Deng to a combined 44 points on just 12-of-34 shooting, there’s no way you should lose the game. Unless, of course, a 38-year-old Thomas somehow manages to score 22 points, pull down nine boards and hand out five assists. Milwaukee took too long to effectively adjust to the pick-and-pop with Thomas and it cost the team.
The second was getting behind early and not having enough in the tank to make a full comeback. It has happened more than I care to look up. It doesn’t matter how well the Bucks play in the second half. They can outscore the Bulls by seven points in the second half of every game, but it won’t matter in the least if they get outscored themselves by 16 in the first half. A 48-minute game deserves 48 minutes of effort.
One of the few bright spots was CDR, who put on his assertive compressions shorts for tonight’s game. CDR matched his season-high of 30 points despite being guarded by good defenders like Deng, Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer. He drew a few fouls, scored at the tin and worked the midrange game to perfection. Those 30 points came on a very efficient 13-of-21 shooting. I just hope that aggressiveness transfers over to the next game.
Bogut had an impressive first half with 15 boards and six points, but didn’t offer much else after that. He tallied just three boards and two points in the game’s final 24 minutes, finishing the game shooting 4-of-11 from the field. Keyon Dooling had another of those quietly effective games that he has become so adept at, finishing with 13 points, 10 assists and four three-pointers.
The Bucks so rarely shoot better than 46 percent that it feels like a waste when they don’t win those games. That’s what happens, though, when the opposition attempts 14 more free throws, pulls down 13 offensive boards and posts a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Those are tough numbers to overcome as Milwaukee proved. Let’s hope the Bucks can retain the good that was done tonight and reduce the bad. That might give them a shot at taking out the Hawks Wednesday night.
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.