Since Jason Kidd’s departure, Joe Prunty’s Bucks have won 4 straight games. While these wins came against subpar competition, lack of consistency against sub .500 teams was one of Jason Kidd’s biggest flaws. Milwaukee holds the 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, only 1.5 games out of the 4 seed behind Miami and 2 games out of the 3 seed behind Cleveland. Many pieces are beginning to fall into place for Milwaukee to climb into the conference’s top half before April.
Wizards Struggling, Wall Out- Plain and simple, the Wizards are playing bad basketball. With ugly losses to Oklahoma City, Dallas, Charlotte and Milwaukee in the last 2 weeks, Washington has fallen to the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference (when the tiebreaker with the Bucks is factored in). With John Wall scheduled to be sidelined because of a knee procedure, the Wizards situation isn’t expected to improve soon.
Defense Improving- Jason Kidd’s supposed calling-card was defense, utilizing an aggressive system of trapping and blitzing to force turnovers. Prunty has simplified the scheme, encouraging players to switch and use their length to defend. In the last four games, the Bucks defense rates 97.4- 4th best in the NBA. Allowing “team length” to use their reach and wingspan instead of relying on spastic and ineffective trapping…. imagine that!
While Middleton may go cold or Giannis may reach foul trouble, defense (when coordinated correctly) travels every night.
Jabari Parker- Many NBA teams will bolster their rosters before the trade deadline, moving role players and draft picks for stars. While Detroit acquired a bona fide superstar in Blake Griffin, they lost depth and defense by shipping Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris to LA. Milwaukee acquires another offensive option in Jabari Parker this Friday, but do so without losing a single player or draft pick.
Favorable Schedule- 5 of the next 7 Buck’s opponents are currently under the .500 mark- this is critical for many reasons. Firstly, this allows Joe Prunty to slowly integrate his desired changes without having to do so against conference rivals in critical games. Secondly, this allows Thon Maker and Sterling Brown continued time to learn and develop on the fly. Lastly, this gives Jabari the time he needs to adjust and slowly work himself into the fold.
Many stars are aligning for Milwaukee, as Joe Prunty looks to continue his developments and changes while still winning games. All things considered, Bucks fans have no reason to not realistically hope for a 4 seed or higher, something that seemed like a near impossibility two weeks ago.
Author: Grant Bilse