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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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In Sports

Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks have avoided prolonged losing streaks since the start of the year. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

Bucks have bounce back ability


The Milwaukee Bucks begin a tough back-to-back tonight in Denver where they take on the 30-18 Nuggets, a team that has been nearly unbeatable at home with a 20-3 mark. Then, off to Salt Lake City to face the 27-22 Utah Jazz, who are 18-5 at home.

It's also the start of a 10-game stretch where the Bucks play six games against five teams with winning records.

At 25-21, every game is of the utmost importance for a Bucks team that sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, just two games ahead of the Boston Celtics in the loss column.

Yet, despite being perilously close to the No. 8 seed, the Bucks are safely within the playoff picture and are a hot streak away from moving all the way up to the No. 3 seed.

They sit just three games behind Central-leading Chicago in the loss column.

"I think they're aware of that," coach Jim Boylan said. "Every game we play has significance because of where we sit – in the middle. We're either chasing a team or trying to keep another team at bay. Our guys, I think they realize that. And we have talented players. We have good players and they may have a couple of subpar games but they're going to bounce back and they're going to play to their average, whatever that is, and that's good enough for us to win a bunch of ball games."

While the jump-shooting nature of the team may prohibit it from going on extending winning streaks – the team has not won more than four games in a row this season – the Bucks have managed to avoid an extended losing streak.

The worst stretch of play for the team was four straight losses from Dec. 30 to Jan. 5, a streak that began right after an impressive 104-85 victory over the Miami Heat at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

That stretch ended with the departure of coach Scott Skiles.

Prior to that, the team had a three-game losing streak from Nov. 19-24 that included a 113-106 overtime loss to the Heat in Miami.

"That's always the good thing about (this team) – we always stick together no matter what," Ersan Ilyasova said. "If we have a bad game and we lose, we think about what went wrong in that game and improve the next game and play harder."

For as inconsistent as the Bucks can be from the floor on a given night, they are fairly consistent in the win-loss column. The Bucks enter tonight's game against the Nuggets with a 12-9 record against teams under .500 and 13-12 against teams over .500.

It's a welcome departure from the last several seasons.

Last year, the Bucks suffered losing streaks of three or more games five different times. In 2010-11 the team had six such losing spells. Even the playoff team in 2009-10 had five losing streaks of that length before catching fire in February and reaching the postseason.

"I think we have a resilient team," Boylan said. "They've got a lot of fight in them and they don't quit. Which reflects well on them as players and as people. They want to do well. They want to succeed. They don't like losing. Luckily for us we've been able to kind of avoid any sort of long stretch of losing.

"Our schedule is getting tougher as we go forward so we're going to be tested. But I like our resolve and I think our players will continue to do that all year."


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