An Injured Buck
Bucks go into playoffs without star center.
The Bucks will have to go into the playoffs without their star center Andrew Bogut, and the whole team, especially centers Dan Gadzuric and Kurt Thomas, will have to step up to fill in for Bogut's absence, if the Bucks hope to get far in the playoffs.
For two years in a row, the Bucks will have to finish their season without Bogut. The Bucks struggled without Bogut last year, where they failed to make the playoffs. Last year Bogut injured his back. Again, they are in this situation after Bogut dislocated his right elbow after he fell after a dunk.
This is also a different team with new players like Brandon Jennings, who could make sure the Bucks don't falter like they did last year. Jennings believes the Bucks must do certain things to make up for Bogut getting hurt.
"We have to keep playing hard and aggressive," said Jennings. "Everyone is going to have to contribute. Everyone is going to have to do their part."
The Bucks ended up with the sixth seed and will be facing off with the Atlanta Hawks. Most experts, like ESPN and YAHOO sports experts, have contended that the Bucks will not be able to beat the Atlanta Hawks, because the Bucks are without Bogut.
The two players who most will be expecting to fill in is Kurt Thomas and Dan Gadzuric. Both men are centers, and might be asked to do much more, now that Bogut is hurt. These two men could be key to the Bucks' success in the playoffs.
SOMEONE HAS TO STEP UP
The Bucks also have more depth at center than they did last year. The Bucks did not have veteran center Kurt Thomas last year, who has been productive for the Bucks this season. Thomas has been in this situation before, where he had fill in more an injured starter.
"I had this happen before in New York, where I had to step in for Patrick Ewing," said Thomas.
Thomas experienced pressure filling in for a Hall of Fame player like Patrick Ewing. Thomas will be under similar pressure filling in for Bogut, who has been having the greatest season of his career and is also a big reason why the Bucks are in the playoffs. Despite, all that Thomas does not feel any pressure.
"I don't feel any pressure," said Thomas. "I'm a totally different person that they are. I'm not going to try to do what they do, but do what is successful for me."
Jennings, the Bucks' rookie point guard, has faith that Thomas will step up now that Bogut is hurt.
"No doubt, he'll step up," said Jennings. "He's been in the league a long time. He's been through a lot of situations. He's played a lot of big games. This is nothing new for him."
In Bogut's absence, Thomas has stepped up his play. He's been averaging about seven points a game, and nine rebounds a game. Bogut may have averaged about 15 points a game but was averaging about the same amount of rebounds a game with 10.
Bogut was not only one of the Bucks' best players, but he was also the team captain, along with Michael Redd. Now both players are out. Bucks' shooting guard, Charlie Bell, says everybody has stepped in to fill in for the injured captains.
"It has been collective," said Bell. "Stackhouse has helped. He 's a veteran. Been in the league a long time. Been on winning teams. Also Kurt Thomas, an older guy, a veteran. They keep the guys upbeat. Been through this before. They have been the most vocal."
Another player who will have to step up in Bogut is Gadzuric. Before the injury, Gadzuric wasn't getting as many minutes, but now with Bogut being out, Gadzuric will be asked to play more time. Gadzuric does feel there is more pressure on him and the team.
"It's a sad tragedy what happened to Andrew," said Gadzuric. "He's a great player. We hit a huge bump. Everybody has to do more. Like the rebounding. I'm going to continue to do what I've been doing."
Since Bogut being hurt, Gadzuric's playing time has increased. He's been averaging about four points a game, and averaging about three rebounds a game.
The Bucks made a trade at the trading deadline where they received Primoz Brezec. Brezec is a 7'1 center, and despite Bogut being injured, has not seen much playing time. The Bucks have mostly relied on Thomas and Gadzuric to fill in at center.
ALREADY COUNTED OUT?
Without Bogut, ESPN predicted that the Bucks will be beaten by the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks do feel that people are already counting them out. Jennings feels that they are.
"I'm sure they are counting us out," said Jennings. "We're in the playoffs, so what can they say? It's a tossup. We got seven games to win the series. So who knows what will happen?"
Gadzuric isn't concerned about the people counting the Bucks out.
"I'm not really concerned about what people think," said Gadzuric. "As long as we can get the support from the people who really support us. That's what we can thrive on and work off that. But other than that we got a task we need to complete. We need to work hard and stick together as a team, and keep doing the right things."
Gadzuric also feels the Bucks can get past the first round. Most people believe the Bucks do not have a shot at getting past the first round.
"Yeah, we can get past the first round," said Gadzuric. "We had times where Bogut was out, where we played real good. We practice hard and have good chemistry. Everybody has to step up."
TO FIX THIS PROBLEM IN THE FUTURE
Seeing as the Bucks have lost Andrew Bogut to injury two seasons in a row. There are several things the Bucks can do to fix the problem of what to do when Bogut gets hurt again. The first thing the Bucks could do is resign Thomas. Thomas is free agent after this year, and has played well in Bogut's absence.
The Bucks could also draft a center. They have the Bulls' first round pick in next year's draft and could draft a center. The Bucks also have two second round picks, that they could use on a center.
The third option is to sign a free agent. The Bucks don't have much cap space, and would have to probably use their mid-level exception if they wanted a quality big man to be Bogut's backup.