Game Preview & Thread: Knicks at Bucks

The New York Knicks’ win-streak ended after falling to the Miami Heat over the weekend, but good news! The Knicks are in Milwaukee tonight to play a Bucks team on a streak of their own, losers of their last six. To get a better idea of what the Knicks are in for tonight I brought in Eric Buenning of Brewhoop and KL Chouinard of Bucksketball.


The Bucks have come out victorious once in their last 16 games. Attendance is bad, the offense is bad, the defense is bad, and the coaching has been bad. In your opinion, why has this season been such a disaster for the Bucks?

Eric: Because everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, really. The veterans they thought were going to help push this team towards the playoffs have pushed them way way way way down in the standings; Larry Drew (the player’s coach) hasn’t gotten more than two consistent performances in a row from his guys all season; pretty much every player has gotten injured in some capacity; it’s been a tornado of misfortune.

But the problems started well before October. This tank (though it’s HELLA EXCITING NOW) or whatever wasn’t supposed to happen. This was supposed to be a competitive team that had a shot at the playoffs, but..well..whoops. The Bucks have this odd tendency in the offseason to play things safe while trying to make splashes. They draft very very well, but they take gambles on players that, if they work out, don’t push the needle too far forward. If their gamble doesn’t pay off, the needle doesn’t go too far backwards. Their gambles are played safe, and that’s how you end up with veteran flotsam (and now jetsam) clouding this young group of actually productive players from being the true building blocks. Most teams establish what they like on their roster and add around it, but the Bucks add pieces from all areas and hope that they play nice and gel into something to which they haven’t necessarily established. It’s a nice idea to be competitive, but it’d be nice if they go about getting there a proper way. It’s kind of heading that way now, yay!..?

KL: After the Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis debacle, Milwaukee wanted so-called ‘character guys’. But unable to attract any special talents, the Bucks went and got a bunch of decent players who fit the character mold.

However, the three free agents they signed in the offseason — Gary Neal, Carlos Delfino, and Zaza Pachulia — all had foot problems a season ago and those problems spilled into this season. So the Bucks ended up with a roster without standout talent, injuries, and they have a bunch of guys with equal (but so-so) talent who all think they should be playing.

Larry Sanders got hurt, too, but the Bucks have been just as bad (or worse) with him as they have been without him. He eats up a few offensive possessions a game on moves that have no hope of resulting in points.

Nate Wolters and Khris Middleton have the highest NRtg on the team this year. To those who haven’t watched the Bucks much this year, what has made these two young guys bright spots on a team without many?

Eric: I’ll tackle Khris first. He was brushed over a bit in the Brandon Jennings/Brandon Knight swap, but his ability to make shots and play moderately good defense has been very welcome on a roster starving for…anything. Middleton isn’t going to be pan out to be a starter on a team going forward, but having a guy with very specific skills at his age is pretty awesome. There aren’t going to be too many teams that will complain about cheap slightly watered down 3-and-D guys on their roster.

Nate is kind of a peculiar case. After Brandon Knight’s hamstring exploded in the season opener at MSG, Wolters was thrust into a role we weren’t sure he would be ready to handle. The best thing about that night, and Nate in general, is that he’s shown the poise (6th best rookie PER and a pretty respectable AST/TO ratio) so early into his career that shows folks that he is capable of handling himself on the court. He is mostly under control when he’s running the offense, and he is one of the very few players on this Bucks roster than can get a guy a decent looking shot (whether that subsequent shot goes in is another issue). So far he has struggled with knocking down jumpers and he hasn’t been worlds ahead of the play of usual backup Luke Ridnour, but he also isn’t 600 years old like Luke is. Plus, he’s good bros with Giannis and IT. IS. ADORABLE.

KL: Wolters is a point guard’s point guard. He runs the offensive sets correctly, gets passes in the right places, plays defense, and can use dribble moves to get where he wants in the paint. If he finds a jump shot, he’ll be very good. So far, he hasn’t

Middleton is a shot-maker. Leave him open and he’ll make a shot. In fact, even when he’s guarded he can make a one- or two-dribble move to create enough space to get up a shot. He doesn’t particularly finish well off longer drives, though. On defense, his above-average arm length helps compensate for slightly below average footwork/footspeed.

Going into the season, I was excited to see how the Henson-Sanders front court would work out for this team. Sanders has obviously had a year he’d like to forget, but Henson seems to have to taken that next step. Granted, we haven’t seen much of Henson and Sanders on the floor together this season but do you think these two should be in team’s long-term plans?

Eric: I forget the on/off splits of the tube men frontcourt, but in their limited time together this season and last, they’ve do I put this..good enough to make you want to give it a shot at least? The are a Giannishandful on defense, but where the question about the tandem has always rested is how they work offensively. With a really good distributing guard, maybe someone can create a scheme where they can both be monsters in the pick-and-roll and garbage men role. But until one of them develops the ability to take like..two steps away from the basket and knock down a shot consistently enough (my hope is that it’s Henson), the spacing will remain an issue.

Oh, right, you’re *actual* question..

I do think they should both be a part of the long-term plans, at least until June rolls around. Sanders signed his 4-year, $44 million extension this past summer, and so far has not earned it. If the Bucks are awarded the top overall pick in this year’s draft and Joel Embiid is sitting there waiting to be made a resident of Milwaukee, it gets very very interesting for the Bucks. So for now, I say (and am totally okay with) that yes, both tube men should be part of the long term plans. We’ll see where the Bucks end up on draft night, though.

KL: The two are useful pieces. They both defend the rim VERY well. But Sanders is a black hole on offense, and Henson is a guy who always looks a lot better on the stat sheet than in a game. He needs to ‘up his motor’ a bit.

The aggravating thing for everyone in the Bucks-o-sphere is that the Bucks have known since December 1 that this was going to be a waste of a season. In the meantime, they have done little to explore the possibility of whether or not these two can play in the same lineup. Despite having nothing to play for, they have spent next to no time on the court together.

The Bucks are dead last in ORtg in the league, while also being 28th in DRtg. How can Knicks exploit the Bucks both offensively and defensively tonight?

Eric: Play fast. Throw the first punch. This team has a hard time adjusting to, well, anything. The quicker you take control of the game, the less you have to worry about losing, and the more sad tweets you’ll get from me!

KL: Offensively, they can make their three-pointers. The Bucks have allowed a horrific 41.5% of opponent’s three-point field goals in 2014. They send weak doubles at the post with regularity, even when it’s not warranted by math or logic.

Defensively, it depends on the point guard. If it’s Wolters, back off and let him shoot. If it’s Knight, play him to his right hand and throw the occasional trap in his direction.

Who do you think wins tonight and why?


But Knicks, by double digits.

KL: Oddly, the way the Bucks play, a guy like Amar’e could be much more useful than he is in normal situations.

I’ll pick the Knicks, but perhaps by a smaller margin than the Bucks are accustomed to. Why? Because the Bucks aren’t very good, and I’m not sure the Knicks are much better.

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Chase Thomas

Chase Thomas is new to KnickerBlogger but has written about the Knicks for years now. Was in attendance for Nate Robinson's 41 point night versus the Hawks. Successfully annoyed Allan Houston's assistant for talking his ear off while sitting next to him at a Knicks game 3 years ago. Follow him on twitter:

121 thoughts to “Game Preview & Thread: Knicks at Bucks”

  1. Woodson says Tyler likely goes back to being 4th or 5th big off the bench w Stoudemire back now. Not regular minutes anymore— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 3, 2014

    Makes sense. Win some games playing Cole Tyler heavy minutes, then reward them with a nice benching. It would be nice to have a coach who didn’t allocate playing time by salary.

  2. I would make a better head coach than Mike Woodson. That’s factorial.

  3. How cool is it that the college kids have stolen Melo/sheeds three to the dome celebration. It’s still hard to believe how many knick fans there are. Imagine if we were a good franchise

  4. After June 30, 2014, Bargnani (expiring contract) would be a salary cap match for Larry Sanders. One year ago, Sanders was seen as the next generation of defense-first center. Zach Lowe wrote 3000 words on Sanders’ defensive domination.

    This year, Sanders looks like a bust. He also looks like he has not matured off the court. Milwaukee might be ready to sell low.

    Of course, if it goes badly, the Knicks would be saddled with three extra years of $11 million/year.

  5. I wonder if Milwaukee would actually be ready to give up on Sanders after handing him that extension. I also would be very worried about a guy like that rehabilitating himself in New York while we depend on him to contribute immediately. Unless they were certain about what he brings to the table that would be a hell of a risk on a guy that would cut in to cap space in 2015 significantly.

  6. Given the new CBA (which creates fewer opportunities for a team to conclude it has signed a truly horrible contract and look to dump a guy with talent who is not worth his salary), the Knicks are going to have to take a real risk in order to use an expiring contract to snare a player.

  7. The Knicks have started this game as if its a meaningless pre-season game. If Im Woodson all I would be telling them during this timeout is our record is fucking 19-28, we have no business not giving a crap when every single damn game is almost a must win now.

  8. Yeah, this lack of giving a shit is bizarre. They likely will still win even with this, but I mean, how are you looking down on your opponents when you are nine games under .500?!

  9. Unfortunately I wont get these last 25 mins of my life back I wasted watching this awful quarter of basketball.

  10. I’m pretty disgusted with the overall lack of urgency in this game so far. We’ll probably win a nail biter in double OT tonight and have to play Melo and Chandler 50+ minutes.

  11. Other than Anthony Davis, what 22 or younger players would you pick before Antetokounmpo? Maybe Drummond, but I can’t think of anyone else.

  12. not sure if anyone else is getting the bucks feed but…
    Ive been all in with the Greek Freak from the beginning, but my love has gone to the next level after seeing his family at the game today. they are the greatest NBA family of all time. i want the knicks to sign his young brothers as free agents right now

  13. I can’t believe I bought League Pass for this. Clearly I’m the moron here, not Woodson, Dolon, or any of the Knicks FO.

  14. Woodson must be willfully ignoring STAT’s strength as a PNR roll man since he seems content to throw him down on the block for post ups like he’s fucking Olajuwon.

  15. I like that we have Shump play a two man game with Chandler out of a timeout. All I want Shump to do at this point on offense is shoot wide open catch and shoot threes, preferably from the corners, and hit the glass. He’s pretty much an empty possession when he’s asked to perform in any other capacity.

  16. we may lose. we will probably win. but there has not been a more fireable offense for woodson than the first half here tonight. stupid switching. stupid doubling. stupid rotations. and benching players that have been playing well so your can stick with your guys. idiot

  17. he’s a great pnr passer and also makes teams pay for leaving him open. oh, wait. he fights through screens with tenacity and his defense is great. no… his leadership and basketball IQ are top notch. hmmm…. he’s a good eater and has adorable nicknames. There ya go.

  18. I’d be very ok with Felton sustaining a season ending injury tonight. Not only is he the worst defensive player in the league but he whines about blatant and obvious fouls he’s committed every single time he gets called on it. I really want to know if Woodson tells him to double team for no reason in an extremely ineffective manner or if Felton does that all on his own. Felton is the pg embodiment of Woodson on the floor.

  19. Herring just tweeted Chandler’s FG% on non-dunks this season is 38.8% (33 for 85). Surprised its that high.

  20. there’s no right answer – it’s the classic paradox of the immovable object vs. unstoppable farce

  21. What does Felton have to do to get benched? He has been far worse than Bargnani this season

  22. If the Knicks lose this game I swear to God we should all boycott watching this team for the rest of the season. Eventually enough has to be enough.

  23. STAT blows. brandon knight just laid it up like he wasnt even there. i hate woodson and his rotations

  24. STAT has an amazing ability to just watch shit happen in front of him without reacting.

  25. i would trade our whole roster for giannis and whatever expirings they would want to give me

  26. This is the dumbest fucking team I’ve ever supported in my entire life. I’m not sure who the stupidest fucking person on this team is. Everytime I think Woodson has it in the bag Felton, Bargnani, STAT and JR pull even.

  27. @lavor exactly… I can’t even keep track of all the tjmes I’ve said “Stat…jump!” And Why the hell are we pressing w 4 secs left in the quarter??

  28. Larry Drew vs. Mike Woodson

    The fourth quarter will be quite a checkers match.

    lol. and people wonder why the people in ATL cant really get behind their Hawks

  29. Why is STAT even getting major minutes? He hasn’t scored efficiently. He doesn’t pass out of double teams. He’s a terrible fucking defender. He can’t box out. Woodson is a fucking idiot.

  30. I have never been a melo fan, but shit, he is way too good for this team or this organization right now

  31. Bucks have won 1 out of their last 16 games, but other than that have been playing very good basketball of late

  32. if hypnosis has any chance of being legit, can we sign JR up immediately. why cant he attack the rim like this every night??

  33. great. woodson has his arms folded with a confused look on his face. never seen this before…

  34. Well, you can’t really expect to go to Milwaukee and beat this Bucks team in their building.

    (looks at record, sees that Bucks are 4-18 at home)


  35. Its amazing, they can get 1 freaking stop down the stretch vs the worst offensive team in the league.

  36. if melo offed felton in front of a full stadium of fans sometime this year, what would be the appropriate plea offer??? 90 days home confinement (in the offseason of course)? would that be too harsh?

  37. We just went 4-4 on an 8 game gift of a homestand. It’s just not a good team whether it’s the coach or the players or both. It’s time we just root for the team to win one game at a time with no expectation of the next game, the season, the playoffs. It’s the only way to stay sane. Be positive, have fun….


  38. Ok… I’m done w this team. For real this time. Not sure who I hate more Felton for being a really horrible player or Woodson for playing him 30 mpg. Where the guck was prigioni?

  39. i dont know, im still rooting for us to win the lottery for Denver. anything that makes dolan look like an ass

  40. Where was this Brandon Knight dagger 3 a few months ago? would have saved us all alot of time and energy and maybe even Woodson would have been fired back then when he truly deserved it. Now it’s all just one big joke, the idiot coach still hasn’t been fired and there is no hope for even a single game playoff Win, let alone a series win

  41. Drew burned his final timeout with more than three minutes left in a close game. The Bucks wanted to lose. They are tanking.

  42. Idk why ppl are stunned. For some reason the bucks always give the Knicks a hard time. Same with the Bobcats. Idk what it is

    The Knicks will sweep the western teams cuz the Knicks are the Knicks watch lol

  43. No idea why Melo would stay for this roster. Amazing that Woodson will keep his job. JR+Melo = 66 points, rest of the team 32. Felton+Shump = 8 points. Knight scores 25. If you could make the worst starting lineup in the league this season Felton and Shump would definitely be on it.

    Those were just a random set of thoughts.

  44. Sometimes, it looks like there’s no talent on this team, and other times there seems to be enough talent to compete in the playoffs.
    As long as Woodson is the coach, it’s really impossible to gauge the potential of this team.

  45. Our four guards other than JR (Shump, Prigs, Felton and Hardaway) were a combined 6-26.

    But give the Bucks credit, they made all of their wide open layups.

  46. Let’s not overlook Tyson’s pristine 1 – 6 from the foul line. This team, outside of Melo and good JR, is a disaster. Mix in Woodson as easily the worst head coach this season and you have this flaming pile of dogshit that we call a professional basketball team.

  47. My favorite Woodson moment tonight is still calling a timeout with 9:50 left in the fourth Bucks up 8. He comes out of the timeout with the same fucking lineup which had basically been playing the Bucks to a standstill for 6 minutes and calls a post up for STAT in which the other 4 guys stood around on the weakside and didn’t move.

    1) STAT is a fucking black hole and never passes out of the post and isn’t a particuarly great post up player (he’s pretty good in that PNR thing we sporadically run)
    2) In the off chance he decided “hey, I’m going to pass” nobody was really moving so it was pretty easy for the Bucks to double and recover to our static off the ball players

    Of course STAT gets the ball stripped made some clumsy effort to get the ball falls on his ass and the Bucks go the other way for an easy 2. Melo is standing at the scorer’s table the entire time waiting to check in, so Woodson clearly was going to put him in at the next stoppage after the timeout, but for some reason reason not after the timeout. I’d love to hear his rationale for that, which I’m sure would be something about STAT and curbs and ball clubs.

  48. There was once upon a time a website dedicated to firing Mike Woodson

    I think we need to urge this man to renew his efforts

    “1. Defense: For someone who is supposed to be a protege of a defensive guru, he sure knows nothing about developing defenses. In 2 years the Hawks have been unable to defend the pick and roll. It is as if they have never seen the pick and roll.

    They also still fail to rotate on defense. To beat us all an offense has to do is swing the ball around and there will be an open man every time.

    We are almost always at the bottom of the league in points in the paint. How is this possible when you have the #4 shotblocker in the league in Josh Smith? It is because we don’t put our players in the correct positions to make plays. Avery Johnson and the Dallas Mavericks showed last year that when you have a good scheme you can make the weakest teams defensively into decent teams.

    2. Offense: The Hawks offense breaks down like this: Run Joe Johnson through screens in an effort to get him free for a shot. If he doesn’t get free, then pass it to Josh Smith or Tyronne Lue so that they can heave a last second perimeter shot. That’s about it. We run no other plays. Other times we hand it to our 6’11 260 center at the top of the key so that he can make plays off of the dribble instead of the post where he is supposed to be. No pick and rolls, no two man games, no plays in the post for Josh Smith, Childress (who played PF in college) Marvin, or anyone else. It is like watching a bad game of streetball. In fact we need to hire AO, the head coach of the And 1 squad, because he runs better offensive sets than Woody does.”

  49. Wally also mentioned that when Woodson has less decisions to make, such as when multiple injuries strike, he’s a better coach. What a disgrace. He can’t manage the team correctly when everyone is healthy, but when the injuries hit, his excuse is “I want to see what this team can do when we’re whole”

    It’s a win-win for Woodson I guess, but what about us fans? We see the changes, we know what adjustments need to be made, who should play/shouldn’t play, etc. Damn it’s frustrating

  50. @98

    If losing is a “big part of what we do,” then, yeah, Raymond Felton is a major contributor.

  51. The Knicks also lost to the sixers. This is not as crazy a loss a you guys make it to be. They suck on d. To combat this they need to make shots/ft and not turn it over. When they don’t do that they lose

  52. From that Fire mike woodson blogspot site:

    “It is like watching a bad game of streetball. In fact we need to hire AO, the head coach of the And 1 squad, because he runs better offensive sets than Woody does.”

  53. Tim Hardaway Jr. has only two games on the entire season where he’s shot between 33% and 50% from three. 21 games he’s shot 50% or better, 20 games he’s shot 33% or worse. Feast or famine.

  54. The Knicks have the worst backcourt I’ve seen since I stopped watching my brother’s games in middle school. They’re pathetic.

  55. This just in – Woodson is a really bad coach and the Knicks backcourt has to be the worst in the league. Why Melo would consider returning to this dysfunctional steaming pile of horse shit if he truly wants to win is beyond me. I am so done with this team, following them is just painful.

  56. Terrible loss, to be sure, but I still have to give it up to JR and Melo for those big time threes at the end.

  57. It’s tough to call that game last night the worst game of the season. There have been too many games where these Knicks just didn’t show up. This one is just another example of putrid. I don’t even know where we go from here but I do know one thing, it starts with the coach. When a team comes out this lackluster on a consistent basis, it’s time for a change up top.

  58. I have stubbornly held out hope all season that the Knicks would turn things around, get a six seed and maybe win a round in the playoffs. After last night, I give up. I don’t know whether it is lack of talent, lack of effort, lack of professionalism, injuries, bad coaching or what, but this team stinks. I went to the Magic-Bucks game in Orlando Friday night, and the Bucks were totally outclassed by a crappy team. For the Knicks to put up that little effort against such a horrible team like the Bucks is mind-boggling and unforgivable. I am now firmly in the camp that says that it’s time to hold a fire sale and see what assets, if any, the Knicks can get for anyone not named Melo or Hardaway. Give Tyler, Murray, Aldrich and Hardaway as much playing time as possible the rest of the way and see if they have any talent that is worth keeping. At the very least, they are hungry enough to play hard. If there’s a Van Gundy who wants the job, give it to him now. If not, find someone not named Calipari or Pitino this off-season. And for all of you who have been screaming for the Knicks to play small ball, guess what — their small lineup stinks as bad as their big lineup. Maybe the Knicks can acquire some draft picks for Chandler and Shumpert but, if you really want to get depressed, go online and find a list of all of the players that the Knicks have drafted since Rod Strickland. If you made a team out of the best 10 guys, it would be a last place team in the East. On a positive note, JR Smith played great last night and has been very good ever since his benching. That one play on which he lost the ball, chased after it, quickly glanced at the shot clock, tracked it down in the corner and turned around for a 3 that just beat the shot clock was Good JR at his best.

  59. We missed some shots last night. Shit happens. The atrocious defense is a constant, but what do you expect when we have JR, Ray, and THJ on the court coached by a bozo?

  60. Still just 4.5 games out of that coveted 6th seed. What a joke this Eastern conference is.

  61. Still just 4.5 games out of that coveted 6th seed.

    Time for us to put together a 2 game winning streak and for people to start talking about the ECF again.

  62. THJ and JR may not be good perimeter defenders, but Felton is criminal in how fucking terrible he is. Virtually every shot the Bucks got down the stretch of the fourth quarter was in some way attributable to his awful pick and roll defense. You can’t go under a fucking screen when Brandon Knight is absolutely shredding you from downtown. You can’t get beat backdoor with under 2 minutes left (and get away with a pretty obvious foul in the process). You can’t double team guys and give up wide open kick out threes to the closest guy available to the dude you’re double teaming. You should NEVER double team Ersan Ilyasova when he’s posting up and he’s 15 fucking feet from the hoop. Bargnani is bad but at least he’ll occasionally block a shot or play solid post defense. Felton isn’t capable of getting steals, playing good on ball defense or effective team defense. He is the most useless player I’ve seen in a Knicks uniform since Luc Longley except Longley at least did us the courtesy of sitting on the bench for the majority of the time.

  63. The Portland Trail Blazers and their #1 ranked offense are up next. They have Damian Lillard, and we have Ray Felton. I’m not forseeing good things.

  64. “They have Damian Lillard”
    If it makes you feel any better, Damian Lillard was acquired with the pick that the Nets gave up for Gerald Wallace. Wallace was on an expiring deal and the Nets had cap space that summer, so they could have acquired him for nothing 3 months after they gave up the sixth pick in the draft for him. See, the Knicks’ front office is not the only dumb front office in the league…

  65. People complain about the other guards but when is shump going to be more than an iso defender?

  66. They annoying thing about Portland and their #1 offense is they basically took our high-usage-moderately-efficient-“superstar”-surrounded-by-a-bunch-of-gunners model. We got big man.

  67. The Portland Trail Blazers and their #1 ranked offense are up next. They have Damian Lillard, and we have Ray Felton. I’m not forseeing good things.

    A team that lives to humiliate Raymond Felton? What could go wrong?

  68. “You can’t get beat backdoor with under 2 minutes left (and get away with a pretty obvious foul in the process).”

    Yeah, Felton not only played terrible D he also whacked the crap out of him and didn’t get called. Pretty egregious foul if you watch it in slow mo, unless the head is part of the ball.

    Watching Felton, he doesn’t look 100% to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is carrying some injuries. But whatever the case, he shouldn’t be our starting point guard. His play has been terrible.

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