Bucks' Khris Middleton is smothered by teammates after
making the game-winning shot in an NBA basketball game
against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in
Milwaukee. The Bucks won 89-88.
— Somewhere at the bottom of a pile of giddy Milwaukee
Bucks on the floor of the Bradley Center, Khris Middleton
laughed and smiled with his teammates.
game-winning, buzzer-beater shot against a team jockeying
for playoff positioning can do wonders for the confidence of
a struggling young squad.
the rebuilding process is ahead of schedule in Milwaukee,
where the Bucks are hoping to make the postseason a year
after winning just 15 games. But after a strong first three
months to this season, the Bucks have struggled over the
last month with the roster altered by injuries and a trade
3 for an 89-88 win over Miami on Tuesday night snapped a
six-game losing streak and gave the Bucks a 2 1/2-game
cushion over the Heat for the sixth spot in the Eastern
Conference playoff race with 11 games left in the regular
don't know about the games back ... But I think we are more
or less in the process of learning, right?" coach Jason
Kidd said. "We're going to be a young team that plays
everyone to one possession."
are 35-36 going into Thursday night's game against Indiana.
Milwaukee is 5-13 since the All-Star break and a three-team
trade that shipped guard Brandon Knight to Phoenix and
brought in Michael Carter-Williams from Philadelphia.
a scorer who handled the ball. He took the key shots at
Bucks head coach Jason Kidd reacts during the second
half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans
Pelicans, Tuesday, March. 17, 2015, in New Orleans.
The Pelicans won 85-84.
last season's Rookie of the Year, is considered a better
ball-handler. His 6-foot-6 frame fits the kind of roster the
Bucks are trying to build with players who can disrupt
opponents with length.
stressed that the big picture to the Bucks' rebuilding
plans. It hasn't made the team's recent struggles any easier
to handle for some success-starved fans in town.
here at the final stretch to get this team to the playoffs,
which is our goal," veteran forward Jared Dudley said
this week. "I think it will be good for the city, good
for the organization and get some of the guys experience to
build next year."
remains in the playoff chase despite dramatic roster
turnover, including the departure of shot-blocking center
Larry Sanders. He was waived after reaching a buyout
agreement following the end of a suspension for violating
the NBA's substance abuse policy.
Jabari Parker, the second overall pick in the draft, was
lost for the season in December with a left knee injury. He
is one of the Bucks' young building blocks along with
Carter-Williams and second-year forward Giannis
20-year-old Antetokounmpo is blossoming into one of the most
promising young — and athletic — players in the league.
He has become more assertive of the last few weeks,
averaging 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in his last nine
time you play more minutes, the more comfortable you get
with your role," Kidd said. "I think confidence
comes with that, to see him be more assertive, but more
understanding of what's in front of him, to read the play in
circumstances of what's at stake at that time."
Parker and Knight, Antetokounmpo and Middleton, a third-year
shooting guard, are taking more of the key shots.
Carter-Williams is Kidd's student at point guard.
basketball would provide quite the education.
us, it's very important not only to myself but our team, to
get into the playoffs ... just to build on going into the
new season," Dudley said. "People like Giannis and
Michael to experience the playoffs because it's a totally
veterans Dudley and guard O.J. Mayo of late have sapped the
Bucks of experience and weakened the bench. Mayo (hamstring)
played six scoreless minutes in easing back into the
rotation on Tuesday, while Dudley (back) hopes to be return
either for the Indiana game or Saturday against Golden