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NBA Travels: Bucks find triumph in the midst of multiple adversities (PHOTOS)


PhilBoxing.com




MILWAUKEE -- With a 15-67 record, the Milwaukee Bucks finished the 2013-14 regular season with the worst record in the league.

And while a turnaround was expected following a coaching change, a high draft pick and new ownership, nobody expected that the Bucks would be this good, this soon.

With a healthy 32-27 slate, the Bucks are sitting pretty at sixth place in the Eastern Conference. And barring a catastrophic collapse, they are on pace to make the playoffs, thanks to a seven-game cushion that separates them from 8th place Miami Heat.

The Bucks' success is made even more remarkable by the fact that it comes in the midst of a series of upheavals.

Last December 15, prized rookie Jabari Parker, who was enjoying a fine season averaging 12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25 games, tore the ACL on his left knee during his team's 96-94 win over the Phoenix Suns.

A month later in London, where the Bucks dueled with the New York Knicks, Kendall Marshall tore the ACL on his right knee and was subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the season.

During the February 19 trade deadline, the Bucks dealt their court general and leading scorer -- Brandon Knight --- for reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and a few assets. Letting go of Knight meant losing the 17.8 points and 5.4 assists that he averaged per game in 52 starts.

On February 22, The Bucks parted ways, via buyout, with longtime center Larry Sanders, who was dealing with personal issues.

Through it all, the Bucks have amazingly kept it together, thanks in large to the stern and able leadership of head coach Jason Kidd, a former star player who distinguished himself as co-Rookie of the Year in 1995, a 10-time All-Star, and an NBA champ in 2011.

Even without Parker, Marshall, Sanders and Knight, it's never boring at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Giannis Antetokounmpo provides much of the electricity these days. Known as "The Greek Freak," this 6-foot-11, 217-pound stud is averaging 12 points and 6.6 rebounds per. The 20-year old small forward also provides an endless stream of highlight dunks.

Veterans O.J. Mayo and Khris Middleton average 11.9 and 11.8 points, respectively while Jerryd Bayless and Jared Dudley combine for 16.1 per.

Milwaukee's defense is not necessarily on an elite level, but its better than most, allowing just 96.6 points an outing while holding the opposition to a mere 43.2 percent
from the field.

Yes, there are no superstar players in Milwaukee, just a group of hardworking guys playing with each other and for each other.

Watching it all unfold, is simply a lot of fun, fun, fun.


The author on site at the BMO Harris Bradley Center (top), while "The Greek Freak" Giannis Antetokounmpo sails for a dunk to the delight of Bucks fans (above). Photos by Irene Ledesma.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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