A playoff for the Bucks?
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:04
Since the departure of head coach George Karl, the Milwaukee Bucks’ struggles can be attributed to several factors. Mainly, they have an owner in Herb Kohl who micro-manages the franchise. Aside from drafting Andrew Bogut in 2006 (who has been injury prone his entire NBA career) and Brandon Jennings in 2009, Kohl’s personnel moves have been less than stellar. The acquisitions of Richard Jefferson and Stephen Jackson in the past few years have been fruitless endeavors in the NBA’s future retirement home. Only having made the playoffs once since the departure of Karl in 2003, the Bucks had yet another chance to make a move this year.
Drafted by Golden State in 2005, Monta Ellis has been known as one of the most exciting young guards in the NBA. He has an ability to get to the rim with blinding quickness, but he’s so difficult to guard because he can also shoot the ball from both mid-range and long-range. In his first seven games with the Bucks, Ellis is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game. Those numbers will go up as Ellis continues to find comfort in the Bucks’ lineup.
Making the transition a bit smoother is guard Brandon Jennings. Since 2009, Ellis played in a tandem backcourt with Stephen Curry. This is a similar situation. Ellis and Curry combined to make one of the most exciting, play-making backcourts in the NBA, and Brandon Jennings can certainly work with Ellis in the same way. Playing the forward spots in the Bucks’ lineup are Carlos Delfino and Erson Ilyasova, both of whom can shoot the ball. So, the Bucks have 4 guys in their starting lineup that can potentially get hot from 3-point range. The 5 is locked up too. Drew Gooden has been having an outstanding year at center for Milwaukee. He’s averaging 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. His points average is up from his career mark, and he’s been nothing less than a lynch-pin in the Bucks’ offense.
The elusive 8th spot in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs. As of March 28th, Milwaukee is two games behind of the New York Knicks for that last playoff spot. With Linsanity subsiding and the resignation of head coach Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks have quietly turned around their 6-game losing streak to win 7 of their last 8, one of which was a 9-point victory over Milwaukee. But the Bucks have won 8 of their last 11 games and find themselves on somewhat of a hot streak. The question is simple: will they have enough time to gel with their new acquisition before playoff time roles around? But don’t be fooled, the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs may only be enviable for their promise of playoff berth; whoever gets those spots will face either the Heat or the Bulls, neither of which look very beatable. But at least this time, the Bucks have put themselves in a better late-season position.