Payback Is A B—-!!!!!

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 29, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — It was time that the two teams who lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in previous meetings give them a little payback.

And you know what they say about payback.

One of the teams was the Philadelphia 76ers this past Wednesday. In their last visit here at the Bradley Center, the Sixers were actually in the playoff hunt when the two teams last met January 27. They lost 91-88.

“It was very spirited (Wednesday),” Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan said after their defeat of Milwaukee.

“Our team just fought. They played with a lot of confidence.”

The Bucks lost the game mentally from the start against the Sixers in their 101-86 defeat. Coach Scott Skiles yanked four of his five starters after almost five minutes into the opening quarter.

Once the Bucks let the Sixers get off to a great start, it was too late to come back.

“We just gotta figure out a way to set the tone a little earlier, everybody from the starters to the veterans,” Milwaukee forward Jerry Stackhouse said Wednesday. “Our veterans have to be ready to come in and play so we don’t put ourselves . . . Playing catch-up ball.”

Even though Philadelphia got the upper hand against Milwaukee this week, they have been mathematically eliminated from the NBA playoffs.

Five days after Milwaukee beat Philadelphia almost two months ago, they played the Miami Heat in a home and away series at home on January 30 and February 1 on the road.

Add another victory, also at Miami on February 27th — all three wins by an average margin of 16.7 points — and you can see why the Heat want to avoid a sweep by the Bucks entering the game at the BC on Friday.

“Tonight, it’s gonna be different for one night and we’re capable of it,” Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said in the pregame conference with the media. “We know what it’s all about,” said Spoelstra.

“Milwaukee knows what it’s about. We want to take care of business.”

Milwaukee entered Friday’s game with a 39-31 record and held the fifth spot in the playoffs. Miami came in at 38-34 and held the sixth spot, trailing the Bucks by two games.

The Bucks were a different team on the floor without center Andrew Bogut, who was out with a sore back.

Miami, right on the heels of Milwaukee in the playoff race after the 103-74 shellacking over the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, came to serve notice.

Miami took the Bucks by the horn as they took a 28-20 first quarter lead. With 4:20 left in the second quarter, Milwaukee, already without Bogut and forward Ersan Ilyasova, sick with the flu, lost starting guard Carlos Delfino when he fell to the floor.

Delfino battled for a rebound with Miami’s Udonis Haslem. As Delfino fell on the floor, Haslem accidently stepped on his head. Delfino remained in a lying position on the floor for more than 10 minutes and was carried out on a stretcher.

Delfino missed the last game against Memphis as a medical precaution but he’s okay. In the end, Miami was too much for Milwaukee and won their second straight road game with a win.

“(Miami) won the jump ball and Dwyane Wade dribbled in and shot a reverse layup, and four guys standing there watching,” Skiles said after the game. “It was pretty indicative early on of what our struggles were going to be.”

The Heat picked up a game on the Bucks.

They are gearing a run for the fifth spot and looking over their backs at the same time.

“We cannot relax,” Spoelstra said.

“Toronto is right on our heels. We need to be the hunters and not let people hunt us down.”

Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings knows how important Bogut is for their continued success. “We gotta try to get Bogut back,” he said Friday. “We just gotta get our big man back.” Bogut was back in the starting lineup.

With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Bucks will need him for the home stretch. And then again, a lot could happen in the next three weeks, like a meltdown that will keep Milwaukee out of the playoffs.