The Bucks fight for their playoff lives...does anyone care?
"It's important for the players, the coaches, myself, the business operation and first and foremost for the fans," Bucks owner Herb Kohl told the Journal/Sentinel about the playoffs back on April 3rd. "It's a lot easier to sell your product when you have a winning season. If we get to the playoffs, I think we'll all feel that we've had a good season."
As of this writing, Milwaukee is one more loss away from watching the postseason at home, or one more Philadelphia win. What looked promising three weeks ago is, politely put, a snowball's chance in hell of happening now.
Kohl and GM John Hammond pulled off a huge trade in hopes of improving the Bucks postseason prospects while invigorating the fan base. They lost Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson while adding Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh. Milwaukee's had no trouble scoring since the deal, but no longer seems interested in playing defense. Amid losses that should've been near-certain wins comes talk from some of the players about a "lack of energy."
Huh? How does THAT happen?
And, what happens now?
If the Bucks win out and the Sixers fail to take another game this regular season, Milwaukee gets the right to be snuffed in the opening round by the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls. Maybe.
What are Kohl's plans if the Bucks don't qualify? His April 3rd comments, intended or not, have an "or else" tone to them, sounding as if he won't be happy if Milwaukee is outside looking in. Do heads then roll? Do changes come? Who stays? Who goes?
GM John Hammond is on the short list in Portland, and one has to wonder about Coach Scott Skiles. The team went 5-5 by my count since that April 3rd day when the Bucks were two games behind the Knicks for that final berth. Included among the "L's" was a must-have-but-didn't-get home court loss to New York on the 11th as well as an inexcusable defeat at the hands of the lowly Wizards in D-C a week later.
"Post Season Crucial For Bucks" said the headline said the morning of the 3rd when playoff hopes were alive and optimism. Fans are already voting with their feet--the B-C has plenty of good seats available and if there's a Bucks playoff buzz rumbling through town, I'm not hearing it. It's a safe bet the TV's on at most bars tonight will be tuned to the Brewers and Astros and NOT to the Bucks as they fight for their lives against Toronto. And, even if the Bucks do make the playoffs, what are the chances of energized Bulls fans seizing on the indifference of we locals to turn the B-C into a sea of red and black, making even a home playoff game feel like a trip to the United Center?
Making the playoffs was a fine goal and sounded like Kohl was setting a bar for his franchise. Making an indifferent fan base care again about his product?
That's where the Good Senator needs that strong "or else."