You got to hand it to the Milwaukee Bucks.
A team that was considered a major rebuilding project at the start of the season with a brand new coach in Jason Kidd, not much was expected from this club, but after their 82-75 win in Toronto Monday night over the Raptors, they have now racked off 4-straight wins. That’s good for a 26-22 record in the Eastern Conference and most importantly, sits them in sixth spot in the conference standings.
What is amazing is that they are doing it with a bare bones roster night after night.
Kidd only had nine players dressed Monday night. A few hours before the game he found out he would not have the services of his leading and only consistent scorer. Point guard Brandon Knight would be out with a strained quad.
Then with just over 4-minutes left in the second quarter, the roster was trimmed to just eight healthy bodies as O.J. Mayo was given a double technical foul and ejected from the game.
When talking to Kidd and the Bucks players, they all sing from the same hymn book “one goes down another has to step up”.
In Monday’s win forward Khris Middleton was that man. He was 10-17 from the field, 3-4 from behind the arc and a perfect 2-2 from the foul line. The result was a season high 25-points and 9-rebounds.
Before the game Kidd said” I think this is a great learning process for our team to be able to handle injuries and just keep playing”.
It should be pointed out for those who don’t follow the Bucks on a daily basis the rest of the missing players, and there is some talent missing. Ersan Ilyasova groin, Damien Inglis ankle, Kendell Marshall ACL tear, Jabari Parker knee surgery, Zaza Pachulia calf strain and Larry Sanders out on a league suspension.
The real story on Monday night is the Bucks held an opponent to under 90-points for the 17th-time this year and they have not lost a game yet when they held an opponent to under-90.
The Raptors shot just 32 percent for the game, which head coach Dwayne Casey called “A stinker” after the game. Saturday night, however, the Bucks beat Portland 95-88 and held them to just 37 percent shooting.
The Bucks are not doing this against teams that could not beat the Washington Generals. They are doing this against the elite scoring teams in the league.
After the game Kidd said, “Normally when you don’t score you need to play defense. We needed to rebound and they did”.
In case you forgot, when the Bucks visited Toronto in November, the Raptors won 124-83. Monday night the 75-points scored by the Raptors was a season low.
So as this Bucks team gets healthy, watch for them in the playoffs. If you are looking for a team capable of a first round upset, this might be it.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.
Atlanta Hawks Are Set To Stretch Their Lead In The East
By Frank McLean
“We have a chance to do something special this time,” Hawks star center Al Horford said. “We have to keep getting better and it’s up for us to keep playing well and (not) be satisfied. We are half way there and we got to keep going”.