The Bucks start their 2012-13 campaign on the road – again, for the 28th consecutive year – Friday night at Boston.
The Celtics are returning home, where they boasted a 24-9 record last year, following a 13-point loss to the Heat Tuesday. Boston hasn’t lost a home opener since 2006 – when their roster featured the likes of Allan Ray (not a typo), Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak, Al Jefferson, Gerald Green and Sebastian Telfair. Milwaukee, meanwhile, hasn’t won a season opener since 2006. Further, Boston was 10-1 last season, including the playoffs, when playing at the TD Garden fresh off a road loss.
The Celtics are also a far superior team, so the Bucks most certainly have the deck stacked against them.
While there’s a good chance the Bucks drop this season opener, it’s important to remember one thing: It can’t be worse than last year’s. It can’t be worse than losing your very first game to an eventual 7-win team.
Yes, the Bobcats were 1-0 last year – before losing 59 of their next 65 games – at the expense of the Bucks.
Let’s take look back, shall we?
After a disappointing sequel to the “Fear the Deer” year, the Bucks revamped their roster in the summer of 2011. Out were the underachievers of the season prior – John Salmons, Corey Maggette, Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts – and in were a slew of new faces, Stephen Jackson and a semblance of optimism. “Those injuries were a fluke!” “Stephen Jackson is a leader!” “S-Jax drains big shots!” “Shaun Livingston is still tall for a point guard!” “Andrew Bogut is finally recovered from his arm injury!” “Fear the Deer 2.0!” “If you’re scared, go to church!”
But it didn’t take long for that optimism to subside.
Flashback to opening night on Dec. 26, 2011 (thanks, lockout).The Bucks jumped out to an 11-point lead at halftime. “Woah,” I thought. “They scored 52 points in the first half (a rarity, sadly, the year prior)! This team is different. This team could be special.”
Not so much.
In what would become a common theme throughout the season, the Bucks suffered from third quarter woes, and their promising lead quickly vaporized. Charlotte stole all momentum by outscoring Milwaukee 30-14 in the third frame.
With an eight-point deficit and 2:16 remaining in the game, the Bucks went on a furious run. Threes by Brandon Jennings and Mike Dunleavy sparked a 9-0 run, and Milwaukee took a 90-89 lead with just over a minute to go. After a trade of baskets, D.J. Augustin put the Bobcats back on top after an uncontested layup at the 35-second mark.
With 14 ticks remaining, and the Bucks down two, Mike Dunleavy spotted up from the left side beyond the arc. Although it was a great look, his shot shot bricked off the back of the rim. The Bucks would go on to lose by one point. The Bobcats would go on to win six more games.
Stephen Jackson was supposed to get the last laugh at his former team that night. Instead, Corey Maggette had the honors. Jackson fouled out of the game in 17 minutes and finished with just six points on 1-5 shooting.
So, just remember Bucks fans: Even if Leandro Barbosa goes off for 37 points, Jared Sullinger outplays Ersan Ilyasova, Kevin Garnett incites a brawl with Larry Sanders, and the Bucks lose by 25 – it won’t be worse than last year’s season opener.
It can’t be.