Saturday, December 28, 2013

2014 Bucks Forest at the Holidays

It's no fun to be in last place.  I know that a large segment of the internet contingent of Bucks fans wanted the team to be where it is now, but even those types would have to admit that this stinks.  The players look beyond unhappy.  Several were laughing on the bench towards the end of last night's loss in Brooklyn.  Jon Gruden may hate that mentality, but it's normal.  When things are so bad and hope is so remote, it's only natural to attempt to find humor in suffering.

Tonight the Fortress on Fourth hosts the Timberwolves and yours truly will be in the house for the third time this season.  In what will hopefully become an annual holiday tradition, a group of us who frequent The Highbury (a soccer bar in Bay View) will root on the Bucks from section 220.  Attending Bucks games is always a treat, and the chance to beat an aspiring playoff team who are led by a UCLA guy and a burly Slav with dinosaur arms adds some extra spice to the night.

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This season sees the Bucks in an odd position.  Thus far they've been the worst team in the NBA (called the "medical marijuana" of the league by the esteemed Peter Vecsey for their ability to cure other teams' ills), but they are also still in the playoff race.

A quick look at the standings sees the Bulls, Nets and Knicks as the likeliest candidates to grab the 8th seed in the East.  Those teams have only 5, 4 and 3 more wins than the Bucks, respectively.  The Bucks have 53 more games to make up those wins.  The playoffs are possible.  Ersan could get healthy.  Larry could shake off the sluggishness he showed in Brooklyn (which was largely responsible for his six fouls in 22 minutes).  Delfino should come back.  A decent backup point guard could be acquired.  (With apologies to Luke and Nate, there have got to be a dozen little guys playing in various other leagues that would stop opposing teams from having such an easy time of it at the point of attack.)  This team could gel around a rotation that looks something like this:

Point: Good Brandon (B. Jennings has been relegated to Bad Brandon status)

Wings: Giannis & Middleton

Bigs: Big Ers & Larry

Subs (hopefully "Nuclear Subs", as coined by Mr. Vecsey): Henson, O.J., Delfino, <backup point>

That rotation can go 29-24 the rest of the way; finishing 35-47.  Can the Bulls go 25-30 without Rose?  Or the Nets 26-27?  Can the Knicks go above .500 (27-26)?  That's what those teams would have to do to best 35 wins.  The playoffs are a possibility if injuries and luck and camaraderie fall the Bucks' way.

Talk of another 8th seed rubs a lot of online-dwelling Bucks fans the wrong way.  They believe it will harm the prospects for the long term roster.  I prefer to have some fun this season.  And to make Milwaukee a more attractive destination for NBA players.  And, most importantly, to see if a Good Brandon/Giannis/Larry has the potential that I think they might.  Hopefully tonight will be the beginning of that journey.

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