Milwaukee, WI. – It is almost time to put the Milwaukee Bucks on the hot seat; yes, the entire organization. Entering into Wednesday evening’s contest as a definitive home underdog, the Bucks hoped to halt the streaking Houston Rockets. As every diehard Bucks backer knows, Milwaukee has been the site of several upsets that ended notable winning streaks. However, the stakes for Wednesday’s game felt much higher than merely breaking Houston’s 16-game run.
The Bucks have struggled since their return from the All-Star break, winning only 2 of their last 8 after taking to the court last night. Interim Head Coach Joe Prunty has been searching for answers after enjoying a brief, successful honeymoon in the immediate aftermath of Jason Kidd’s firing. What’s more, the Bucks have been experiencing this malaise in the midst of the most difficult, and arguably most important, stretch of their schedule.
Exciting and positive wins against the Raptors and Sixers have been punctuated by heart-breaking and sometimes brutal defeats at the hands of Eastern conference foes like the Pacers, Pistons and Wizards. Jabari Parker’s return to meaningful minutes has been overshadowed by a precipitous – and continuing – fall to the 7th and 8th seed. If the ship cannot be righted, there will be increasing pressure on the Bucks to make major changes in the coming offseason, both within the front office and to the roster itself.
To that end, the team’s main goal must to be to gear up for a playoff run against the NBA’s elite teams. The contest against the Rockets was almost certainly circled on the Bucks’ schedule as an opportunity to make a statement at home against a star-studded Houston squad. That makes the performance all the more disappointing, as the Bucks trailed from the opening tip.
BUCKS FALL TO ROCKETS
The team’s energy belied the fact that they have played several difficult games over the past two weeks. The Rockets performed well across the board, with five players scoring double digits. James Harden and Eric Gordon combined to produce offensive firepower that was simply too much for Milwaukee to overcome. The Bucks, as usual, were carried by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 30 points to go along with 7 rebounds. The team continues to struggle in deploying their offensive sets, and assists are hard to come by. Jason Terry, who has seen his usage spike tremendously in past weeks, led the team with only 5.
While the result may not be unexpected, Wednesday’s game still portends of a grave future for the Milwaukee Bucks. Without higher energy, increased contributions from role players and a focus on offensive motion, the Bucks will find it difficult to climb out of this 10-game rut. Sitting only 5 games ahead of the Detroit Pistons for the last spot in the East, the question of playoff seeding is quickly becoming a question of making the playoffs in the first place.
By: James Broomfield