30 teams in 30 days: No Freak accident - Bucks could surprise


30 teams in 30 days: No Freak accident - Bucks could surprise

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Milwaukee Bucks.

When Kobe Bryant was doling out expectations for some of the NBA’s brightest stars, there was a noticeable omission: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
So, Antetokounmpo reached out to Bryant via social media basically saying, ‘what about me?’

The Black Mamba responded with a pretty cut-and-dry challenge – become the league’s MVP.

Antetokounmpo will be in the conversation for sure, especially after being named an All-Star last season.

He averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game.
The 6-foot-11 point forward became the first player since LeBron James in 2008-2009 to lead his team in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.
But for the Greek Freak to come away with the league’s highest individual honor, Milwaukee will have to rack up a few more wins than last season’s 42-40 finish and likely advance past the first round of the playoffs, which they have not done since 2001.
They should benefit from a roster that remains relatively intact and seems poised to build off of last season’s postseason berth, where they were eliminated in the first round by Toronto in six games.
Despite not having a bona-fide, knockdown shooter (although Khris Middleton is pretty darn close), the Bucks were among the league’s best shooting teams in connecting on 47.4 percent of their shots which ranked fourth in the NBA.
However, the Bucks had their share of issues defensively despite having the kind of length at every position that, on paper at least, would lead one to believe they were one of the league’s better teams defensively.
But the numbers tell a different story, with the most noticeable being their defensive rating of 106.4, which ranked 19th in the NBA, tied with Houston and Philadelphia, a pair of defensively-challenged teams from last season.
Still, through the playoff series loss and the defensive challenges come growth, the kind that has the Bucks poised as one of the potential surprise teams in the East this season.
In addition to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks return a lineup that includes rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon (the first second-round pick to ever win the award), Jabari Parker, Middleton, as well as increased depth with Tony Snell, John Henson and Thon Maker.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: None.
Key losses:  Michael Beasley (free agent to New York).
Rookies of note:
D.J. Wilson.

Expectations: 48-34 (Second in the Central Division, fourth in the East)

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Beating one of the few teams already eliminated from the playoff race is in itself not that big a deal.

It’s called doing what you’re supposed to do.

But for these Celtics, their 92-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night was more than just another victory.

It was the latest installment in a season filled with teachable moments and lessons that can bolster in some fashion their chances at a deep playoff run.

While there’s no way they’re going to go far without their core guys Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, getting guys to fill in for them and still manage to win, is important in this team’s overall development in both the present and future.

No one on the Celtics’ roster can score like Irving, the league’s 11th-ranked scorer at 24.4 points per game.

Still, getting his fill-ins Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin to go for 17 and 10 points certainly helps.

And Jaylen Brown’s ability to play both ends of the floor at a high level is huge, but rookie Abdel Nader has shown he too has some potential to be a solid two-way talent.

Smart’s defense sets him apart from others, but the Celtics collectively were able to make up for that with an impressive defensive rating of 83.1 against the Orlando.

And their collective efforts serve as yet another teachable moment for the Celtics.

Here are five takeaways from a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might lead one to believe: 

There may not be another Celtic whose stock has risen more than Terry Rozier’s this season. He has become a reliable two-way talent off the bench whose capable of giving you starter-like production when needed. He had 17 points against the Magic along with seven rebounds and five assists.

With Marcus Smart (right thumb) out for the rest of the regular season, Terry Rozier in the starting lineup along with Marcus Morris, those are three really big chunks of Boston’s second unit no longer coming off the bench. The second unit players might have been different, but that didn’t affect the Celtics’ bench from impacting the game in a significant way. Against the Magic, they outscored Orlando’s backups, 39-28. 

He signed with the Boston Celtics at a time when a role for him was far from defined. His patience and Boston’s faith in him has paid for both as Larkin continues to be that utility player that Brad Stevens has leaned on at times. Larkin was solid off the bench, scoring 10 points.

This may be one of the closest Coach of the Year votes we have ever had in the NBA. Regardless how short the list may be, you can bet Brad Stevens will be on it. The way he has been positioning the Celtics to be among the last teams standing despite all the injuries they have endured this season, speaks to his ability to not just draw up X's and O’s but also his ability to develop players who when called upon to play, are more than ready for the challenge.

It’s fair to expect the Celtics are going to be short-handed for the rest of the season, which means those still around have to step their game up – Horford included.

For Horford, stepping up involves being more assertive as a scorer and not rely as much on his skills as a play-maker. We saw that from Horford on Friday, as he tallied a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds but more important, he took a game-high 18 shot attempts.


'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

AP Photo

'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

Former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis was arrested last month in a hotel room in Aberdeen, Maryland, with more than 126 grams of marijuana and more than $92,000 in cash.

Davis, 32, who played on the Celtics 2008 championship team was last in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015, was arrested Feb. 7 after the hotel owner at the Aberdeen Hampton Inn smelled marijuana coming from Davis' room, WMAR-TV in Baltimore reported.

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” Aberdeen Police Lt. William Reiber told WMAR. “In addition to that, there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

Davis is charged with seven counts of drug possession and distribution.

Police said the strains of marijuana were from a Los Angeles wholesaler that court records show Davis told police he was in business with.

He told officers he was visiting family in Maryland. Davis' attorney told WMAR the former Celtic (2007-11) adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court next month to clear his name.