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Are the 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks playoff bound?



It was only 18 months ago when their star center was done for the year and they were a visiting playoff team against a veteran Atlanta Hawks team. It was the year of “Fear the Deer” and the aging Bradley Center was once again rocking as a group of underachievers pushed the Hawks to a decisive game seven. Looking back, this was more of a mismatch than it looked at the time. A beat down Kurt Thomas forced to anchor a non-existent front court for a Milwaukee Bucks team that played with a rookie point guard (Brandon Jennings) and an overachieving shooting guard (John Salmons) as their backcourt. In the end, without Andrew Bogut (lost to injury), the Hawks (even if they couldn’t match the heart of the Bucks) were the better team.

However, as Jennings, Salmons beard, and defensive specialist, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute walked off the court that year there was a new feeling for Bucks fans. What was that feeling? Oh yes, hope and optimism heading into the next season. Why not? If they could push the Hawks to seven without their star center then the next year would surely bring success, maybe even the second round of the playoffs. Of course, this never happened. The 2010-11 season ended with the Bucks on the outside of the playoff window looking in. A team divided on the court and the locker room, the hope and optimism gone.

As December 9th approaches each team is contemplating the 66 game schedules and how their team will react? Will the Milwaukee Bucks fight back and play team defense for Coach Scott Skiles? Or will Jennings and company provide a repeat performance from last year, a performance Bucks fans have grown too familiar with.

Here’s a look at five reasons the Bucks are headed to the playoffs, and five reasons they will stay in non-playoff purgatory.

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THE STEPHEN JACKSON FACTOR I understand Corey Maggette has a history of ME disease (aka team cancer), but being traded for one of the men responsible for “The Palace Brawl” says a lot about how much the Bucks organization disliked Maggette. Since “The Brawl”, Jackson has grown into a savvy veteran, but it is unclear how he will partner with Brandon Jennings. Putting Jackson next to Jennings is a major risk and the definition of volatile.

THE INJURY FACTOR Andrew Bogut has missed many games over the past three years. Drew Gooden (the Bucks big free agent signing of 2010) missed a large portion of last season. Jon Brockman is the primary front court back-up. Enough said.

BRANDON JENNINGS The Bucks are putting the franchise on the back of a point guard that has in two years has proved to have an inconsistent jump shot and inability to finish near the basket. Question: How often do players turn these two issues around in year three of their careers?

TEAMS HAVE PASSED (OR ARE CLOSE TO PASSING) MILWAUKEE – So most place Boston, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, and Atlanta above the Milwaukee Bucks today. Last year New York, Philadelphia, and Indiana passed by the Bucks and New Jersey and Washington are improving each day. Counting the Bucks that are eleven teams, the Eastern Conference has gotten much more competitive.

BANGO The beloved Bucks mascot will do everything in his power to make sure he is the main attraction at Bucks games. YouTube (or Google) “BANGO BUCKS“ and you will see why.




SCOTT SKILES Now that Maggette and Salmons have been removed the Bucks can resort back to the team defense they played in 2010. Stephen Jackson will welcome the role of lead defender in the front court, even if it takes away some of his offense. Right? This conversation was had before they made the trade. Right?

THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW Does anyone remember HBO’s The Larry Sander’s Show starring Garry Shandling? The first season was a little rocky as the audience tried to figure out what they were watching. The second season is when it really found its groove. Maybe the Buck’s power forward, Larry Sanders only needed a year to get acclimated and is now primed for a break out year? Hey, it worked for Garry Shandling.

THE BACKCOURT IS IN ORDER It wasn’t initially apparent, but the loss of Luke Ridnour was big for the Bucks offense last year. This year they went out and got Beno Udrih to complement Jennings and offset Jackson and Carlos Delfino. Shaun Livingston and Keyon Dooling are also both hanging around. History shows us that more guards mean more room for adjustments. This is a good thing for Coach Skiles.

SCHEDULE The original schedule wanted to hand the Bucks a horrific January that featured 12 of 16 road games (Spurs and Lakers coming to Milwaukee for two of the four home games). The revamped 66 game schedule may feature more back to backs, but I highly doubt it will be more difficult that the initial January lineup.

WISCONSIN KARMA You have the Super Bowl champion Packers, the Brewers advance to the NLCS, the Badgers, Marquette, etc… Isn’t it time for the Bucks to join the party? Anyone else excited for the poster titled “TRIFECTA” with Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Braun, and Brandon Jennings all wearing cheese heads?

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By: David. S. Grant
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer
David S. Grant is the author of several books. His latest novel, “BLOOD: The New Red” is now available. For more information go to http://www.silverthought.com/blood/ Follow David on Twitter: @david_s_grant

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