With Michael Redd Out, Bucks Face Little Margin of Error To Make Playoffs

Pete TreperinasCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2009

The lower half of the Eastern Conference is weak, and the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, and Chicago Bulls will all have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs.

The Bucks will have to make it through the second half of the season without star guard Michael Redd, who recently tore his ACL. At a below-mediocre 22-27, the Bucks wouldn't be in playoff talk in the West. However, in the East, that mark is good enough to secure the eighth spot at this time. 

With Redd out, Milwaukee is going to rely heavily on Richard Jefferson, who is now the No. 1 option. Currently averaging 17.1 PPG, Jefferson will have to start scoring more. 

Redd was averaging 21.2 PPG at the time of his injury, and was the player carrying Milwaukee. 

Other players who will have to step up their leadership are Andrew Bogut, Luke Ridnour, and Redd's replacement, Charlie Bell. 

Bogut has been inconsistent from year to year—even month to month. The second half of the season could be a decisive factor in whether he's worth his $6 million salary. Bogut has missed eight straight games with back spasms, and hopefully he returns soon.

Bogut is currently averaging over a double-double a game, and has been averaging a career high in boards per game, with 10.4 this year. I'd like to see Bogut shoot a bit better from the charity stripe, and maintain his solid 57.5 percentage from the field. 

As for Ridnour, he's done well this year after coming over from Seattle. He has a pretty good assist-to-turnover ratio—something that Redd lacks. 

Bell's stats should increase given the minute increase. Back in the 2006-07 season, Bell put up 13.5 PPG as a starter in Milwaukee. He has had big nights in the past, and once he gets comfortable again as a starter, Bell should contribute to this Bucks team more than expected. 

As of now, the Bucks will have a tough time competing with Indiana and Chicago.

The Pacers' Danny Granger is having the best season of his career, and proved that as Indiana handed the Bucks a 107-99 loss on Wednesday night. 

The Bulls now head on a five-game road trip that could make or break them. 

In the next several weeks, we'll see just how well Milwaukee can make it without Redd. The Pacers are hot right now, and the Bucks are dragging a two-game losing streak.