The Bucks can’t mathematically win in six games. The Bucks aren’t going to win in seven games, either.
Milwaukee hosts Miami in a Game 4 matinee on Sunday, and if history tells us anything, it’s that the Bucks have literally no chance to win the series. No NBA team — let alone an eighth seed — has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. Zero.
Yet, the Bucks still have to go through the motions and play Game 4. It’s win or stay home. If the Bucks steal Game 4, they will travel to Miami and enter Game 5 with the exact same odds of winning the series as they had before.
It’s now a matter of pride:
B. Jennings: I know my head is still high. I’m still going to finish out…I’m still going to play until the buzzer is over. #BucksPlayoffs
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 27, 2013
And if “playing for pride” is a bit too cliché, “playing for contracts” might be more appropriate for this team anyway.
Playoff exposure provides soon-to-be free agents a chance to strike gold. It can create a lasting — even if completely misleading — impression. One must look no further than former NBA center Jerome James, who entered the 2005 NBA playoffs as Seattle’s underwhelming starting center and exited as a hot commodity around the NBA. James started 80 games in the 2004-05 season for the Sonics, in which he posted a very modest statline: 16.6 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 1.4 bpg. In the playoffs, however, he seemingly broke out. With an expanded role, James posted a 19.3 PER in 11 games during the playoffs and increased his averages to 12.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 1.8 bpg.
James’ 11-game sample size was more than enough to lure in the New York Knicks, who rewarded James with a 5-year, $30 million contract. The rest is history. He went on to play 90 more games in his career.
So, why is this relevant? The Bucks have seven players — and a head coach — who are about to hit free agency this summer, assuming Monta Ellis opts out of his contract and the Bucks decline Gustavo Ayon’s option. In particular, each member of Milwaukee’s marquee guard trio will likely be testing the market. Unlike James — and both Jerome and LeBron apply here — Jennings, Ellis and J.J. Redick are doing little to impress in the playoffs:
- 16.7 points per game
- 37.0 minutes per game
- 32.0 field goal percentage
- 20.8 three-point percentage
- 43.2 true shooting percentage
- 5.0 assists per game
- 3.0 steals per game
- 12.3 PER
- 12.0 points per game
- 37.7 minutes per game
- 40.0 field goal percentage
- 13.3 three-point percentage
- 43.7 true shooting percentage
- 4.5 assists per game
- 2.9 steals per game
- 2.5 turnovers per game
- 11.0 PER
- 6.3 points per game
- 13.7 minutes per game
- 42.9 field goal percentage
- 44.4 three-point percentage
- 62.0 true shooting percentage
- 1.3 assists per game
- 1.7 turnovers per game
- 8.8 PER
These players may have only one more game to enhance their worth to teams around the league. Sunday would be a smart time for one or more of these players to break out of their respective slumps. A win couldn’t hurt, either.
Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who is nursing a sore right knee, is questionable for Game 4. Via Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is monitoring the nagging injury on a day-by-day basis:
“He’s been dealing with this for over a month. It’s getting better, but he plays a physical game. He was on the ground four or five times last night. One of those collisions when he was fouled in the first half, he got hit on the elbow, he got hit in the face, and he got hit on the knee all on one play. He’s fighting through it. Some days are better than others, depending on the collisions he has the night before.”
“That’s why we’re treating it day-to-day. This was a bone bruise. What it needs is time and it gets better. But what it also needs is no collisions.”
Hampered by knee pain, Wade had a woeful Game 3 performance. He only converted one of his 12 field goal attempts and turned the ball over six times. However, Wade still almost managed to register a unique double-double — finishing with 11 assists and nine rebounds.
Wade missed 13 games during the regular season due to injury. If he doesn’t suit up, expect Mike Miller to slide into the starting lineup. Miller, who has only played two minutes in the series, started each of the Heat’s last 11 games of the regular season — seven of which Wade missed with injury. Shane Battier is another option for the Heat. He started 20 games during the regular season and is averaging 25.3 minutes per game in the series.
Udoh Limited By Injury
Backup center Ekpe Udoh only played four minutes in Thursday’s game, and Bucks coach Jim Boylan later revealed that Udoh is battling an Achilles’ heel injury. That helps explain why seldom-used Samuel Dalembert, who hadn’t appeared in a game since April 3, received nine minutes of action off the bench. He appeared out of shape and was noticeably a step slow on defensive rotations. After playing four minutes in the first half, Dalembert re-entered with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter and quickly committed two fouls and couple careless turnovers. Miami extended their three-point lead to ten by the end of the frame.
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Time: 2:3o p.m. CDT
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