After yet another Buck free All-Star Weekend the Bucks head to Detroit to begin the “second half” of the season. Watching the introductions to this game I can’t help but notice the once again expressionless face of Tim Duncan. Dwight Howard did a dance, Lebron did a dance, KG did a dance, almost everyone did something, but Duncan looked up stone-faced as ever and nodded his head. I’m sure Bill Russell was proud. Shaq had quite a routine with the Jabbawokies (I think that is their name). I think he stole a lot of that from his jam session dance-off with Dwight Howard last year, but I’ll still give him an A for effort.
I’ve grown accustomed to not having anyone to root for on these occasions, but miss the days when the Bucks were vying for three all-stars with Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, and Sam Cassell. Perhaps next year at this time I’ll be beaming as Andrew Bogut catches a lob from Ramon Sessions while representing the finest the Eastern Conference has to offer.
If the Bucks can resign Sessions.
There have been some rumbles that the Bucks are interested in making a deal with Portland involving Richard Jefferson and Luke Ridnour. This would be a coup for the Bucks, as it would free up enough cap space to allow them to bring back Sessions and Charlie V. assuming their contract demands are reasonable. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one though; I just don’t see why the Blazers would be that interested in making that deal. Does it make them a contender this year? No. Does it push them to the next level next year? No. They could use the benefit of RJ’s expiring contract in a few years when some of their young guys are up for extensions, but that seems like an unrealistic reason for a deal getting done.
Over at Brewhoop Frank Madden does a great job of breaking down the Bucks cap situation with an eye on how to avoid the luxury tax.
The week ahead is a very central themed week for the Bucks. Starting with a trip to Detroit, the Bucks follow with home games against Chicago and Cleveland. Without further ado…
February 17th Bucks @ Detroit (27-24)
I hope I’m not jinxing this, but Detroit is only three games ahead of Milwaukee in the standings. I almost want to start thinking these new look Bucks could make a run at them…and then I remember that these are the same Pistons that deal the Bucks heartbreaking losses time and time again. The most recent was especially difficult. The Bucks had chances to put away the Pistons, but for every free throw or lay-up by Ramon Sessions there was a Rasheed Wallace three waiting on the other end. Past successes being as they are the Pistons are still a shell of their former selves. Rodney Stuckey looks pretty good, but Wallace has had far fewer standout performances this year, and the acquisition of Iverson leaves them missing something defensively. The Pistons still have been too much for the Bucks this year, and I don’t expect a lot to change this week. That last sentence may or may not have been an attempt to reverse jinx the Pistons. I’ll decide that Tuesday night after the game.
February 18th Bucks v. Chicago (23-30)
I made two points about Chicago when I was looking at the Bucks playoff chances near the end of January. My first point was that Chicago was terrible on the road and their seven game road trip would destroy their playoff chances. Wrong. They somehow went 4-3 and easily could have gone 5-2 if not for a heartbreaker against Minnesota. The Bulls were a miserable road team before this, so how’d they get their act together for a midseason seven game roadie? That takes me to my other point – Tyrus Thomas. I said it was foolish for the Bulls to not throw minutes at Tyrus Thomas and see if he could be anything. Over the road trip Thomas averaged 32.5 minutes and responded with 14.7 points and 9.7 rebounds a game. Thomas seems like the perfect running mate for Derrick Rose, that is, unless Amare Stoudemire comes to town. Thomas is the Splenda to Stoudemire’s sugar. The Bulls now look like they’ll be making a serious run at that last playoff spot. At least they aren’t the Cubs.
February 20th Bucks v. Cleveland (40-11)
King James comes back to Milwaukee. I actually found the ball from the shot Ramon Sessions put up that James rejected rolling down my street a few weeks ago, so that was cool. Mo Williams will be fresh off his first (and I’ll bet only) all-star appearance. Mo is putting up similar numbers to the ones he had last year, just with a far superior team. He’s pretty much in a perfect role for himself, a complementary player responsible for hitting shots and keeping the ball moving. It’s mysterious how his defense has managed to improve so greatly though, it must be something in that Cleveland water.