Milwaukee Bucks: Fear the Deer!
Raise your hand if you thought that the Milwaukee Bucks would have 36 wins by mid-March and have a fairly tight grip on the five-seed in the Eastern Conference.
Even I have to keep my hand down, because I thought the Bucks would barely squeak into the playoffs in the weak East.
I'm in awe of what the Bucks have done already this season, and I'm sure all the analysts and prognosticators are biting their collective tongues, as most, if not all, picked the Bucks to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Just for fun, let's take a look at how Sports Illustrated predicted the season for the East, which shows why league-wide preseason predictions are pointless to make, and why I usually go no further than to express how 'my' teams will do.
SI's 2009-10 Eastern Conference prediction:
Now let's look at the actual East, with current records:
1. Cleveland (51-15); 2. Orlando (47-20); 3. Atlanta (42-23); Boston (41-23); 5. Milwaukee Bucks (36-29); 6. Charlotte Bobcats (33-31); 7. Miami (34-32); Toronto (32-32)
The Bucks have now found a second half of the season surge, to which no one saw coming, and now sit at No. 5 at 36-29, trailing Boston by 5 1/2 games for No. 4 and Atlanta by six for No. 3.
I'm not saying that Milwaukee will get the three-seed, but it just goes to show you that in sports, anything can happen.
Just today, Milwaukee beat the Indiana Pacers for its sixth victory in a row, the second time the Bucks have had such a streak in the last month.
The Bucks started the season 8-3, but were written off due to early-season luck.
It looked like people were right because over the next 28 games, Milwaukee went 8-20 and fell to their lowest point at 16-23 on Jan. 18.
Then something happened that I guarantee nobody in the NBA would have suspected; the Bucks going on a tear.
After falling to seven games under .500, Milwaukee has gone 20-6 in the last two months, now sitting at seven games over .500.
I love numbers, so let's take a look at some more eye-popping stats to show why the rest of the NBA should fear the deer.
Andrew Bogut is the second best shot-blocker in the NBA with 2.5 bpg, narrowly trailing Dwight Howard (2.75). Bogut also has 32 double-doubles in the 59 games he's played.
The Bucks do not have a top 45 scorer in the league (No. 46, Bogut with 16.2 ppg), but John Salmons has averaged 19.3 ppg since joining the Bucks on Feb. 19.
Since that trade, Milwaukee has gone 12-1, with Salmons scoring at least 12 points in each of those 13 games.
As I mentioned before, the Bucks have now won six in a row, to go along with 12 of their last 13 games, 15 of the last 18, 16 of the last 20 and 19 of their last 25 games.
Milwaukee just completed a 4-0 homestand, with key wins over the Cavaliers, Celtics, and Jazz, who were one of the hottest teams before falling to the Bucks.
The Bucks are 23-9 at home, including seven in a row, and fans are making sure that the Bradley Center will be a tough place to win for the opposition in the playoffs.
The 36 wins that Milwaukee has are already two more than last season (34-48), and they still have 17 games left to play.
It also helps that the Bucks have the potential Rookie of the Year winner in Brandon Jennings, but that's another argument for another day.
Of those 17 games remaining, I believe the Bucks should win at least nine of those, giving them at least 45 wins on the season, with an outside chance to win 50 (must go 14-3).
Milwaukee last won 40 games during the 05-06 season, 41 games during the 04-05 season and 42 games during the 02-03 season, needing just seven wins this season to have the most victories since the 00-01 season (52-30, reaching the Conference Finals).
The Milwaukee Bucks have been irrelevant for several years, but have quickly returned to relevancy, showing everybody that they need to 'Fear the Deer!'
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