A win for the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles ended 2013 on a high-note. Brandon Knight scored a career-high 37 points against the lowly Lakers, and recently healed power forward Ersan Ilyasova continues to improve. Center Larry Sanders even posted solid numbers during the night, and played his longest game of the season since breaking his thumb in a Milwaukee bar-fight.
The victory is purely consolatory, however. Milwaukee remains in last place in the Eastern conference, trailing the Knicks by 2.5 games and first place Indiana by a whopping 18 games. The team has the worst record in all of the NBA, and manages the least points while allowing over 100 points on average. A successful season appears to be based in the hopes that certain players standout as a possible foundation of starters to bring into 2014, complimented by smart draft picks. The relatively generous playoff format of the league could play some magic with the team, however, as the 8th seeded Celtics are just four games ahead of Milwaukee, and no other team in the bottom half has won more than 12 games.
All fantasy aside, head coach Larry Drew and his team faces a daunting uphill climb to become a relevant contender in 2014. Home games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center are hemorrhaging fans at a rate that has caused the franchise to offer heavily discounted tickets for the remaining home schedule. Only two teams have worse attendance then the Bucks, and many of the fans who have not fled are calling for a purposeful dive this season in hopes of garnering the top draft pick.
Bucks Injuries Pile Up
Along with the win in California, 2014 also brings news that the Bucks injury woes have followed them into the New Year. Only two of the expected five starters from camp at the beginning of the season were able to play in the team's season opener in October. Sanders and Ilyasova only just returned, though, in the meantime, forward Carlos Delfino and center Zaza Pachulia were sidelined. Delfino is likely out for the season after surgery resulted in a plate and screws inserted into his injured foot. Pachulia could be gone for as much as a month with a similar foot injury, though his will not require surgery. Second-year player John Henson, who took over Ilyasova's duties at power forward for much of 2013, is the latest victim. Henson will miss the first three games of the New Year with a high ankle sprain, leaving Drew with no experienced reserves behind Ilyasova.