Back in July I wrote a piece comparing the Milwaukee Bucks to the Miami Heat in many different ways and I still believe they are both very similar in style with the type of players each team has.
On paper the Heat look better coming into the season if both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh stay healthy. I have to give them the edge due to more experience but their games during the regular season should be fun to watch.
In this piece I’m going to look at a few more of the Eastern Conference contenders that should compete with the Bucks for playoff spots this year.
Although the Bucks swept the regular season 4-0 against the Heat last year, they were not at full strength and they expect to be this coming season. The same goes for the Indiana Pacers, who managed a 2-2 split with Milwaukee last season, and they expect All-Star Paul George back healthy.
Not only has George been a Bucks killer, so has his teammate George Hill. In just two games against Milwaukee before being injured Hill scored 24 and 17 points respectively. We hope the length of Michael Carter-Williams will bother him some this season.
With Roy Hibbert and David West now gone Greg Monroe should score plenty down low, but newcomer Monta Ellis has hurt the Bucks since leaving them after the 2012-13 season. In four games with the Dallas Mavericks he was a perfect 4-0 against Milwaukee, which included a deep game-winning two pointer as time expired In Milwaukee on December 3.
I believe that Indiana gets the upper hand this season again thanks to a little more experience. But these games should be very exciting to watch.
Another team that the Bucks have struggled with in recent years is the Washington Wizards, in large part due to their size near the basket.
Nene and Marcin Gortat did some damage last year, but the Bucks also struggled to contain both John Wall and Paul Pierce. In three games against Washington last year, the Bucks were just 1-2. But in that one win Khris Middleton had one of the best games of his career scoring 30+ points.
While Nene averaged 11 points in three games against Milwaukee and Gortat averaged 13.3, it was Wall who had the most success averaging 17 points in those three games against the Bucks. On a positive note, after he scored 21 and 19 in their first two meetings early in the season, Carter Williams’ length was effective in the third game keeping Wall to just 11 points in that loss.
Monroe will certainly limit some of the damage done by the big men along with John Henson, who will be much improved with another offseason under Head Coach Jason Kidd on his resume. MCW’s defense was effective in the final game against the Wizards last season and I don’t expect that to change too much.
Mar 30, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver (26) attempts a three-point basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton (22) in the fourth quarter of their game at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 101-88. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Even though the Bucks only went 1-3 against the Hawks last season I feel like they might matchup with them better than any other team I’ve mentioned here. In that one win Milwaukee handed the Hawks their worst home loss of the season 107-77, and a day later the Bucks lost at home but in a close one only 90-85.
Kyle Korver was the best three-point shooter in the NBA shooting nearly 50 percent for the year, and his performance from beyond the arc was the difference in their matchups last year. When the Hawks were blown out by Milwaukee and in their very close five point game at the Bradley Center, Korver was a combined 3-13 from three point range in those games. In the Hawks’ two wins later in the season he shot a combined 7-18, which isn’t that much better, but effective nonetheless.
As Milwaukee did with most big men regardless of the team last year, they struggled to keep Al Horford and Paul Millsap off the boards, both offensive and defensive. The Bucks were less than 24 hours from signing point guard Jeff Teague away from the Hawks when he was a restricted free agent a couple of years ago, but then GM Danny Ferry swooped in to keep him. Teague averaged 13.7 points per game in four contests against Milwaukee.
Many of us expect the Bucks to contend for a playoff spot this year, and while the East is usually considered weak it has gotten a little stronger. The season cannot start soon enough.
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