Bucks Lead

How Bucks Can Improve Road Inconsistencies

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The Bucks are working hard to secure a top four seed, and playoff home court, for the first time since 2001. Seeing as they’ve won 14 of 17 at Fiserv Forum, opening with two home games would go far towards a first series win since that year. However, as the Boston Celtics found out last year, a team needs to win on the road too in order to make a sustained run. That’s why, despite a 22-10 and 2nd place start, the Bucks are sometimes frustrating with a mere 8-7 road record. Several details must be corrected if the Bucks are to achieve more than a single series win against a much weaker team.

Mad in Miami

Granted, Milwaukee’s road trip to Miami a night following an inspired blowout in Boston was tough. No way around this with a 4:30 AM arrival time and cancelled practice. But the extent of the team’s struggles against a 38% shooting Heat team was horrifying. In fact, the Bucks even tied a franchise record by only scoring eight points in the first quarter! Virtually directly after the tip, the deer already looked several steps slow and disinterested.

Even more stupefying was Giannis’s struggles. Just one evening earlier, he was his ho-hum usually dominant self.

Giannis and Car Washes

But the Heat, a better defensive team, was readier. The Greek Freak shot just 3 of 12 and only went to the line twice. It certainly wasn’t due to lack of desire or talent (he still gathered 13 boards, five more than any other Buck). As Ted Davis observed Saturday night, Giannis faces the same gauntlet as cars through the power wash. 15 arms and wavy things jump out, making it almost impossible for either to get through (and Giannis has no robot track). Usually without worry, he can just pass to an open teammate. But if the perimeter players can’t hit threes, the offense stalls. For instance, Giannis had an astonishing +/- of -31 in Indiana. That’s primarily because of double and triple-team walls.

With Milwaukee shooting just 11-of-43 from three in that defeat, the negative outcome was inevitable. What’s more frustrating is that Giannis can dominate on the road too. Consider his insane 44-point performance in Cleveland.

Solution

The key to success in the playoffs when consistency departs is to sneak up at the right time. Despite an abysmal 9-of-43 outside shooting night against Miami, the Bucks rode a late run to take the lead at halftime and another to cut the deficit to one with 2:42 left. If the Bucks open on the road this spring, it may only take four good minutes in the fourth to steal game one or two, all that’s necessary to reclaim homecourt advantage. And that’s the main excitement the Bucks will provide when the east playoff grind starts. Expect Forum fabulousness. As for the away games? All it takes is a little Greek razzle-dazzle or downtown streak and Milwaukee may be on a different street: the road to the finals.

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About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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