Thursday, April 8, 2010

Checking in on the Thomas/Gadzuric Experiment

The Bucks had already clinched a playoff spot and the New Jersey Nets, the worst team in the NBA, were coming to the Bradley Center. Doesn't sound like the hottest ticket that Milwaukee has ever had. But with great seats (thanks again Mick), and high curiosity on how the Bucks were going to play without Andrew Bogut, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the game on Wednesday night.

The Bucks won, of course, 108-89, and I talk about that a little more in a minute. With the Bucks already in the playoffs, all I really cared about was watching how the Bucks would handle the Nets down low. Granted, this was kind of a gimmie game because it's not like we were facing the Dwight Howards of the league here, instead our big guys only had to go up against Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. But still, if the Bucks are going to do anything in the playoffs, Kurt Thomas and Dan Gadzuric have to at least try to fill the void that is left behind by the absence of Andrew Bogut.

My initial reactions? I can't say enough about the job Kurt Thomas did last night. His body has seen a lot of miles as he's nearly 40 years old, but he played 27 minutes and finished the game with twelve points and ten rebounds. You can tell he can get tired pretty quickly, but we're going to be alright with him in the lineup. He's got a nice jumper and does a good job collecting the loose balls, and I have no concern about this team when Thomas is in the lineup. In fact, I'm going to give him the Player of the Game award for his efforts.

The other guy though, yikes. Dan Gadzuric could not have looked more lost on Wednesday night, going nearly seventeen minutes. All too often you would see Gadzuric mess up a play - his pass was too long, he couldn't grab the rebound, he literally fumbled incoming passes - and you could see the frustration on his face. It was so bad that when he did finally make a jumper, Squad Six was right there to give him the "Dan-ny G" chant, as if they felt a little sympathy for the poor guy. If Gadzuric had a hard time against a scrub like Kris Humphries, I just can't imagine how bad he's going to get worked over when he plays centers who are on actual playoff teams.

I think the Bucks are going to kind of enter their playoff series similar to how the Brewers did a few years ago, and that is by the team the playoffs actually start they are going to be worn out from the season that they just endured. I'm happy to see that they have some momentum though and are learning to play without Bogut for now, but I'm still not sure they can win an actual series against the likes of Atlanta or Orlando. Either way, I think the play of our centers will ultimately determine how far we get.

Other thoughts:

* Great environment at the game Wednesday night. I was worried since it was the lowly Nets and the Bucks had already clinched that the BC would be a bit empty. But it was a decent crowd of more than 16,000, and they were into the action for most of the game. One thing I would like to see in the playoffs is for the whole stadium to adopt the mentality of Squad Six. It'd be so great and intimidating if everyone joined in their chants, especially the "Seven Nation Army" chant they do before the fourth quarter.

* Very high scoring first quarter in this one, as the Nets led after one 38-33. Both teams were shooting more than 60 percent at the time, and the Nets were shooting better than 80 percent from beyond the arc. New Jersey did cool down quite a bit after that, but thankfully the Bucks were able to keep up in the first quarter so that this one didn't get out of hand early.

* Other POTG candidates could easily be John Salmons with 22 points, and Jerry Stackhouse with 18 points. Stackhouse provided a great spark off the bench for Milwaukee, as did Ersan as he had 15 points. Both were needed as Carlos Delfino had a rough night, scoring just seven points and going 0-6 from three-point land.

* Couple of Brewers were at the game on Wednesday night as well. Jim Edmonds was in attendance, although he was hidden in the crowd a bit. Rickie Weeks, on the other hand, was sitting courtside and once people realized it, he got mauled for pictures and autographs. Rickie Weeks is going to be tagged in a lot of Facebook photos after that game.

Next up for Milwaukee are the 76ers, as the Bucks will travel to Philly for a 6pm start time on Friday night. After that it's a few games that could be potential playoff preview, as they'll take on the Hawks which is bookended by two games against the Celtics. After that? The playoffs. Yes, the NBA Playoffs. Can't wait.

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