Via the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
Doubts are starting to creep into the minds of Milwaukee Bucks players.
It’s only natural the team’s confidence would sag a bit as it has lost seven of the last eight games following an exciting 8-3 start.
But Bucks coach Scott Skiles addressed the issue at Monday’s practice session and told his players that too much contemplation could be counterproductive.
“We’re not thinking properly about it,” Skiles said. “Confidence has to come first. You can’t be out there in a game feeling unsure about yourself.”
Feeling unsure about yourself certainly isn’t the way to feel heading into a matchup with a 16-4 championship contender on a 7-game winning streak. The Bucks are struggling recently, losing a lot of games, and noone on their team has performed as poorly — relative to expectations – as Andrew Bogut:
Bucks center Andrew Bogut has struggled in the last three games after a 22-point, 15-rebound showing against the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 30. Bogut excelled in his return from a lower leg injury and blocked two shots late in the game to help preserve the Bucks’ 99-97 victory over the Bulls.
But he could not duplicate that effort while matching up against Washington’s Brendan Haywood, Detroit’s Ben Wallace and Cleveland’s Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
“He has to play with much more of a swagger, much more confidence than he currently plays with,” Skiles said. “Now he does in some games.
“It’s got to become more consistent. He’s got to establish himself in every game and let the other team feel that he’s out there. Sometimes it will be by scoring the ball. Other times it will be getting big rebounds or whatever it is.
“He can’t predetermine and think ‘I’m playing against a guy I’ve struggled against before.’ He’s just got to bring it every night. And he’s good enough that when he does, he’s very good.”
It’s odd Bogut has played so badly recently, because he’s actually having a damn good season. He’s very near a double-double average (14.6 ppg and 9.1 rpg), to go along with 1.8 bpg, and had started to establish himself as one of the Eastern Conference’s top centers before stumbling in his past few games and having Scott Skiles discuss his lack of confidence.
It’s too bad for Bogut he has to try to revive himself from his early-season slumber against Kendrick Perkins and the stout C’s interior defense. (Note: It’s weird saying “Kendrick Perkins and the C’s defense” rather than “Kevin Garnett and the C’s defense”, but that’s how good Perk has been this season. If you ask me, he’s NBA All-Defense, no doubt.) If Bogut is still struggling with his confidence – and, really, even if he isn’t – tonight could be a long night against the long, mobile and talented Celtics frontcourt.