The Milwaukee Bucks, after undergoing a severe makeover this past off-season, now find themselves forced to do the same just a week prior to the All-Star break.
In a matter of two weeks, the team lost its starting shooting guard, center, and now point guard, all due to injury.
Wounded, but not dead, recent play has shown that the Bucks have chosen to brush aside excuses and fight on.
Last Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons the team forced a thriller of a game, ultimately falling in overtime, but carried nonetheless by second year point guard Ramon Sessions and his career high 44 points.
The plague of injuries began with former All-Star Michael Redd, who was declared out for the season after tearing both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in the January 24 game against the Sacramento Kings.
The hardships proved incessant when center Andrew Bogut was ruled out indefinitely with an incomplete stress fracture in his lower back. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bogut, who had struggled with the injury throughout the season, will be reevaluated at the end of March when the team has only seven games remaining. So it is almost safe to say that his latest injury will keep him out for the remainder of the season.
Looking to add some depth at the shooting guard position, Milwaukee proceeded to trade for shooting guard Keith Bogans, sending backup point guard Tyronn Lue to the Orlando Magic.
Then, almost simultaneously, starting point guard Luke Ridnour suffered a broken thumb during practice, keeping him out for up to four weeks. In a matter of seconds, the Bucks went from having three point guards in their rotation to one: Ramon Sessions.
But the Bucks and head coach Scott Skiles have no choice but to go with the flow. “The script is the same, it’s just that the actors have changed,” said Skiles before Saturday’s game against Detroit.
In the team’s first game without all three starters, Skiles replaced Ridnour with Sessions, rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute filled in for Redd, and veteran Francisco Elson slid in for the injured Aussie.
While the team ultimately fell to the Pistons, in order to continue a run towards the playoffs the Bucks will need consistent effort from players who stood in the shadows only weeks ago.
As Sessions showed, every player will be forced to elevate their game in order to necessitate a competitive basketball team.
Skiles, in his first year with the team, has already made long strides with players and fans. Milwaukee, coming off a very disappointing 26-56 season, is only three victories away from surpassing last year’s win total and have been flirting with the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
As of Sunday, the Bucks sit half a game back of New Jersey for the eigth spot and three games back of Philadelphia for the seventh in a likely battle for a daunting best-of-seven series against Boston, Cleveland or Orlando.
Although making the playoffs would be extraordinary, at this point, the Bucks should be simply hoping to build off their efforts of late and limp into the All-Star break without losing their entire roster to injury.