With the start of the NBA season still more than two months away, there is very little in terms of real news to talk about. Rosters are pretty much set and teams know for the most part what the plan is going into the 2014-15 season.
Now fans just patiently wait for training camp to start and count down the days until the season begins.Which is why the announcement of the NBA schedule is such a big deal if you are a serious basketball fan.
Wednesday, the schedule for all 30 NBA teams was released, including the Milwaukee Bucks. If you are the Oklahoma City Thunder or the LeBron James/Kevin Love-led Cleveland Cavaliers, you look the schedule over to see how many nationally televised games you have, if you’re playing on Christmas and so forth.
If you’re a team like the Bucks that is rebuilding and, if we’re being honest, still not that good, you look for the games that will provide a measuring stick to see how much progress you’ve made. You seek out the games that, for a team like the San Antonio Spurs, would be “easy wins” and use those to see if you’re on the right track.
Beating a team like the Boston Celtics or Orlando Magic might not be sexy, but it will show an organization like the Bucks if landing Jabari Parker and hiring Jason Kidd was the right way to go.
And the Bucks have just such a game to open the season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center; a home opener on Halloween night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Bucks and the Sixers have been on similar trajectories since last year when both teams sacrificed the season to increase their odds in the draft lottery. The Sixers tried very hard to be bad, but could only manage the second worst record in the NBA, behind the Bucks, despite a record-tying 26-game losing streak.
The Bucks actually did beat the Sixers twice last season, including a 20-point victory during the infamous losing streak that many Sixers fans saw as the best chance for the team to snap their skid.
This time should be a bit different as the Bucks are entering the next phase of their rebuild and won’t be so anxious to lose anymore. And the Sixers, while everything seems set for Tank 2.0, you can be sure the players don’t necessarily feel that way.
Regardless, both the Bucks and the Sixers have new weapons in their respective arsenals that should make for an interesting game. The Bucks of course have Parker at small forward while the Sixers will be sending Anthony Bennett to try and deal with him (if the reported deal for Thaddeus Young does actually happen).
Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams with be facing off against third-year point guard Brandon Knight and, most notable if you are a Sixers fan, Nerlens Noel will be playing in his second NBA game (the Sixers open the season two days earlier against the Indiana Pacers) and will be going up against Larry Sanders, who has much to prove to the Bucks organization.
And while it might not be the same as playing on Christmas Day, I always thought having the home opener on Halloween was fun and made for a great time for the fans.
For the Bucks, the 2014-15 season is all about seeing how much progress they have made from the team that only managed to win 15 games last year. Monday ESPN announced their NBA Summer Forecast and projected the Bucks to increase that win total to 23, which would place them next-to-last in the Eastern Conference.
No one said the climb to being relevant in the NBA was going to be fast or easy. After opening the season in Charlotte, on Halloween the Bucks step on the first rung of that ladder and see if they can show the Sixers whose rebuild is better.