5 Reasons the Milwaukee Bucks Won't Steal the Central Division

Ryan Reed@@rareedBRCorrespondent IIDecember 3, 2012

5 Reasons the Milwaukee Bucks Won't Steal the Central Division

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    Through 15 games, the Milwaukee Bucks are 8-7 and tied for the division lead. 

    They have already defeated division foes Indiana and Chicago, while winning other signature games against Boston (twice) and Philadelphia.

    Still, the division title is by no means Milwaukee's to lose. In fact, it still appears a long shot for this Bucks team to steal the division.

    Why can't they pull a fast one on the Central Division, you may ask? Keep reading to find out.

    All statistics up to date as of 12/03/12.

5. Chicago and Indiana Are Great Defensive Teams

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    While both Indiana and Chicago have struggled on the offensive end this season, each has remained a defensive force and sit at third and fourth in the league in points per game allowed.

    Even more impressive, Indiana has allowed teams to shoot a mere 40.8 percent against them.

    This defensive prowess has gotten both teams to the records they have now, and it certainly won't be going away.

    Instead, each team will likely get better with the returns of their respective stars in Danny Granger and Derrick Rose.

    Currently, the Bulls have the same record as Milwaukee and the Pacers are only one game behind, despite averaging the second least amount of points in the league at 90.9 per game.

    The point is that both Chicago and Indiana have far too good of defenses to continue to struggle. It's only a matter of time before each rights their offense and begins to win games.

    That alone makes it safe to bet against Milwaukee winning the Central Division.

4. Milwaukee Is on a Downslide

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    Milwaukee got off to one of the hottest starts in the NBA, winning six of their first eight games.

    From there, however, the team has dropped off significantly. They have now lost five out of the last seven games, with the two wins coming against Chicago as well as the Rondo-less Celtics.

    Part of the reason for the poor streak is the level of talent that they have played against, including Miami, New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls.

    The other reason is the recent inefficient play of some of their stars. Monta Ellis has shot an inefficient 39.5 percent from the field over the last seven games, while shooting the ball almost 18 times per game.

    Incidentally, when he shot the ball only 10 times, the team won against Chicago.

    This Milwaukee squad has lived and died by the offense of two players known for shooting the ball far too much. While Ellis and Brandon Jennings were able to make it work in their first few games, it seems like the strategy is catching up with them.

3. The Team Has an Inefficient Offense

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    This Milwaukee squad is in the middle of the pack in points scored per game, 97, while sitting comfortably at 11th in the NBA in field goal percentage at 44.7 percent. Surely that means that this team is efficient offensively, right?

    Well it turns out they aren't quite as efficient as these numbers suggest. For starters, this team is this second worst three point shooting team, making only 30 percent of their attempts.

    While they only shoot 18.2 per game, a bit below average, they are still well below the median mark, which is Boston at 36.4 percent.

    The Bucks also happen to shoot the second least free throws per game, meaning they get fewer free points that don't affect their shooting percentage.

    While they shoot a middling 75.3 percent from the charity stripe, they simply don't get there enough to make an impact.

    All of these numbers culminate in their points per shot, a statistic very important to look at when discussing efficiency. Milwaukee currently has the third worst points per shot at 1.11, tied with Indiana.

    The only teams worse than them in this statistic are Orlando and Washington, while Sacramento, Cleveland and Toronto all sit a few spots ahead.

    The Milwaukee Bucks have far too inefficient of an offense to continue winning a majority of their games.

2. They Are Getting Too Little from Their Best Players

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    The key players that the Milwaukee Bucks have built around thus far are simply not performing to the standard that they need to in order to win the Central Division.

    Monta Ellis, as discussed before, has been far too inefficient over the entire season. He is shooting 40.1 percent from the field and 18.5 percent from beyond the arc. Still, Ellis is shooting the ball 18.1 times, including 3.6 three point shots, per game.

    While he is scoring 18.7 points per game, shooting these horrible percentages will not lead to wins.

    The same argument can be made against Jennings. While Brandon started off the season strong as far as assists, he has reverted more to a shoot first mentality over the last seven games.

    After having at least seven assists in five of the first eight games, he has had just one such game over the last seven.

    Even worse, Jennings has shot the ball 38.7 percent from the field in those games. Like Ellis, Jennings is averaging almost as many shots as he is points per game.

    Finally, Ersan Ilyasova has been all but absent this season, averaging only 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 34.9 percent from the field.

    The good news is that several players like Larry Sanders have stepped up, but the Milwaukee Bucks will lose too many games due to their star players that the division title will remain a pipe dream.

1. The Division Will Only Get Tougher as the Season Goes

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    Right now, Milwaukee is playing in a division of weakened teams. The Chicago Bulls are without Derrick Rose, while Indiana is playing without Danny Granger and Cleveland is missing Kyrie Irving.

    Still, the Bucks are only a game up on the Pacers and are tied for the division lead with the Bulls.

    Like stated before, both Indiana and Chicago play far too good of defense to continue to struggle and the Bulls have already seemed to figure it out.

    Once the Pacers are able to figure out their offense without Danny Granger, likely through the emergence of Paul George, they will once again be a threat in the Eastern Conference.

    While Milwaukee has been able to take advantage of their division early with a 3-1 record, the tides will soon turn. Both Chicago and Indiana will be able to pull ahead and Cleveland should be able to steal a game or two once a healthy Irving returns.

    If I were a betting man, I'd choose the field over the Milwaukee Bucks to win the Central Division by a long shot.