Friday, November 21, 2014

Attendance Down; Hopes Up

Almost everything is better this season for the Bucks.  Bucks "fans" are no longer openly rooting for the team to lose.  The franchise player is not playing and acting like a knucklehead.  The team is not 2-10 through twelve games.

The one fly in the ointment remains attendance.  Attendance is down 5.9% compared to the first five games of the 2014 season.  The 2014 season had three weekend home games by this point while 2015 has seen only two, but it still is disappointing.  Not altogether unexpected after posting the worst record in the League and being expected to lose a lot in 2015, but still disappointing.  This is a new era with new owners, and there was hope that it would translate to a better arena experience.  The energy from the crowd is certainly more positive, but it's still the same twenty five year-old building, same ugly court and same game day presentation.

Things will get better.  Last season, the Bucks' fell to 13,487 per game after drawing 14,921 through their first five.  This season the Bucks are almost certain to climb from their current 14,047 average.  The team is winning, but more than that it feels like they're on their way to big things.  As much as the author liked a lot of the teams during the Michael Redd and Brandon Jennings eras, many Bucks fans believed that the team was a hamster wheel of mediocrity.  Many of those same fans believe that the same 6th-to-8th seed this season would be a stepping stone towards title contention.

Tonight, the Bucks play a 2015 contender -- the Toronto Raptors.  Thought before the season to be a step below the Bulls and Cavs, the Raps have been elevated in part by their own success and in part by the struggles of the preseason favorites.  Derrick Rose can't seem to stay healthy for the Bulls and the Cavs appear to be a team that is less than the sum of its parts.  That has left the Raps at the top of the East, and in a position to stay there throughout the season.

The young Bucks certainly have a chance against this Toronto team.  It's a road game and the Raps have the type of Bigs that can give the Bucks trouble, but this is a new era.  Ever since Giannis Antetokounmpo started playing inside, the team has done a much better job of handling skilled, tough big men.

The game may come down to the guards and wings' ability to handle Lowry, DeRozan and Terrence Ross.  Those guys can score, and it may be tough for Jabari and Dudley to stay with the Raps' trio on defense.  I'm hoping to see some three guard lineups from the group of Middleton, Bayless, Knight and Mayo.  Those guys -- especially Middleton and Bayless -- can sometimes get lost against a good offensive team.  Coach Kidd may instinctually want to play Middleton and Bayless a little bit less, especially if the Raps get a few extra baskets against them.  I hope that he stays with the guards, though.  I think that is the Bucks' best chance of leaving with another win.

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