Milwaukee Bucks fans probably woke up on the morning of April 3 feeling pretty good about their chances this spring — they had just caught fire in February and March, they were the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, and they had their sights set on a Cinderella run in the playoffs that spring. But that was the night that Andrew Bogut went down, injuring his hand, wrist, elbow and postseason aspirations all in one fell swoop. The Bucks are back to square one this season, hoping once again to turn a few heads in an increasingly competitive East.
2009-10 Record: 46-36 (second in Central Division, sixth in Eastern Conference, lost to Hawks in first round)
Celtics' record vs. Bucks: 91-91 all time, 2-2 last season
Familiar faces: None. The Bucks have long been a collection of unknowns, and there's nowhere that's truer than in New England.
Key additions: Drew Gooden (free agent), Corey Maggette (traded from Warriors), Jon Brockman (traded from Kings), Keyon Dooling (free agent), Chris Douglas-Roberts (traded from Nets), Larry Sanders (draft), Tiny Gallon (draft), Darington Hobson (draft)
Key losses: Hakim Warrick (signed by Suns), Kurt Thomas (signed by Bulls), Dan Gadzuric, Charlie Bell (both traded to Warriors for Maggette), Darnell Jackson (traded to Kings for Brockman), Luke Ridnour (signed by Timberwolves)
Burning question: Will Bogut be good as new?
There are very few all-around centers in the NBA as good as a healthy Andrew Bogut. You can count them on one hand — Dwight Howard, Yao Ming, maybe Pau Gasol if he's playing the five on any given night.
But Bogut's right there. He's got the potential to be a superstar in this league — scoring, rebounding, defending, leading this upstart Bucks team on both ends of the floor. Everything. He's 25 and he's got the complete package.
But the freak accident that derailed his season back in April changed a lot. There's no telling when, if ever, he'll return to full strength. And if the Bucks are going to make a run at being a real contender in the Eastern Conference — right there with the Celtics, Heat and Magic — they need that full strength from their big man.
The supporting cast around Bogut is solid. Brandon Jennings will only get better, and the additions of Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden will help the Bucks pack a little extra punch. But it all starts with the big man in the middle, and there's a lot of uncertainty about that big man at the moment.
2010-11 outlook: The Bucks were a 46-win team last year, and you can probably expect more of the same again in this upcoming season. Their rotation is solid from top to bottom, but they don't have the star power to compete with the top teams in the East just yet. Expect another mid-seed in the East playoffs next spring, but don't expect much more.
Did you know? The Bucks are the only active NBA team with a historical record of exactly .500 against the Celtics. The C's had middling track records against several of the defunct franchises from the original Association — the Providence Steam Rollers (10-10), Detroit Falcons (3-3), Waterloo Hawks (1-1), Sheboygan Red Skins (1-1), and the original Denver Nuggets (1-1).