After two years of being one of the most inept offensive teams in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks were more productive on the offensive side of the ball last season. However, the defense that had become Milwaukee's calling card under Coach Scott Skiles took a substantial step backwards during the lockout-shortened season.
If the Bucks want to give themselves any chance of making the playoffs this season, they will have to find a way to score the ball effectively while getting back to the defensive efficiency they displayed during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 campaigns.
With a backcourt made up of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings--two dynamic, though inefficient, scorers--Milwaukee will find a way to manufacture points on most nights. But simply manufacturing points will not be enough to consistently produce wins.
The key to any success the Bucks may have this season will be predicated on what they do on the defensive end of the floor. Ellis and Jennings will score points, but if they do not have an impact on the defensive side of the ball, Milwaukee will more than likely be on the outside looking in when the 2013 NBA Playoffs begin.
Here are game-by-game predictions for the 2012-2013 Milwaukee Bucks:
Game 1, Friday, November 2 at Boston Celtics- Bucks fall to the Celtics and lose their sixth straight season opener (Record 0-1).
Game 2, Saturday, November 3 versus Cleveland Cavaliers- Bucks defeat the Cavaliers for the eighth consecutive time (Record 1-1).
Game 3, Wednesday, November 7 versus Memphis Grizzlies- Bucks close a two-game homestand with a solid victory over the Grizzlies (Record 2-1).
Game 4, Friday, November 9 at Washington Wizards- Bucks beat the Wizards in the first half of a back-to-back (Record 3-1).
Game 5, Saturday, November 10 versus Boston Celtics- Bucks get a home win over the Celtics and avenge a loss they suffered eight days earlier (Record 4-1).
Game 6, Monday, November 12 at Philadelphia 76ers- Bucks play for the third time in four nights and drop a road game to the 76ers (Record 4-2).
Game 7, Wednesday, November 14 versus Indiana Pacers- Bucks get a quality home win over the Pacers (Record 5-2).
Game 8, Saturday, November 17 versus New Orleans Hornets- Bucks move to 5-0 at the Bradley Center with a victory over the Hornets (Record 6-2).
Game 9, Monday, November 19 at Charlotte Bobcats- Bucks get a road win over the Bobcats (Record 7-2).
Game 10, Wednesday, November 21 at Miami Heat- Bucks lose to Dwyane Wade and the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena (Record 7-3).
Game 11, Saturday, November 24 versus Chicago Bulls- Bucks get a home win over the Derrick Rose-less Bulls (Record 8-3).
Game 12, Monday, November 26 at Chicago Bulls- Bucks fall to the Bulls at the United Center for the fifth consecutive time (Record 8-4).
Game 13, Wednesday, November 28 versus New York Knicks- Bucks drop a home game to Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks (Record 8-5).
Game 14, Friday, November 30 at Minnesota Timberwolves- Bucks rebound with a road win over Kevin Love and the Timberwolves (Record 9-5).
Game 15, Saturday, December 1 versus Boston Celtics- Bucks open December with an impressive home win over the Celtics (Record 10-5).
Game 16, Monday, December 3 at New Orleans Hornets- Bucks suffer a road loss to the young Hornets (Record 10-6).
Game 17, Wednesday, December 5 at San Antonio Spurs- Bucks fall to the savvy Spurs at the AT&T Center (Record 10-7).
Game 18, Friday, December 7 versus Charlotte Bobcats- Bucks defeat the Bobcats (Record 11-7).
Game 19, Sunday, December 9 at Brooklyn Nets- Bucks lose to the Nets at the Barclays Center (Record 11-8).
Game 20, Wednesday, December 12 versus Sacramento Kings- Bucks get a home win over the Kings (Record 12-8).
Game 21, Friday, December 14 at Cleveland Cavaliers- Bucks get a road win over Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers (Record 13-8).
Game 22, Saturday, December 15 versus Los Angeles Clippers- Bucks open a brief two-game homestand with a loss to Chris Paul and the Clippers (Record 13-9).
Game 23, Tuesday, December 18 versus Indiana Pacers- Bucks defeat the Pacers in the first half of a back-to-back (Record 14-9).
Game 24, Wednesday, December 19 at Memphis Grizzlies- Bucks drop a road game to the Grizzlies (Record 14-10).
Game 25, Friday, December 21 at Boston Celtics- Bucks play their third game in four nights and fall to the Celtics at the TD Garden for the sixth straight time (Record 14-11).
Game 26, Saturday, December 22 versus Cleveland Cavaliers- Bucks rebound with a home win over the Cavaliers (Record 15-11).
Game 27, Wednesday, December 26 versus Brooklyn Nets- Bucks beat the Nets at the Bradley Center for the sixth consecutive time (Record 16-11).
Game 28, Saturday, December 29 versus Miami Heat- Bucks close a perfect 3-0 homestand with an impressive victory over LeBron James and the Heat (Record 17-11).
Game 29, Sunday, December 30 at Detroit Pistons- Bucks drop the second half of a back-to-back to the Pistons (Record 17-12).
Game 30, Wednesday, January 2 versus San Antonio Spurs- Bucks drop a home game to the Spurs (Record 17-13).
Game 31, Friday, January 4 versus Houston Rockets- Bucks close a brief two-game homestand with a victory over Jeremy Lin and the Rockets (Record 18-13).
Game 32, Saturday, January 5 at Indiana Pacers- Bucks lose to the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Record 18-14).
Game 33, Tuesday, January 8 versus Phoenix Suns- Bucks get a home win over the Suns (Record 19-14).
Game 34, Wednesday, January 9 at Chicago Bulls- Bucks fall to the Bulls in the second half of a back-to-back (Record 19-15).
Game 35, Friday, January 11 versus Detroit Pistons- Bucks play for the third time in four nights and drop a home game to the Pistons (Record 19-16).
Game 36, Sunday, January 13 at Toronto Raptors- Bucks open a four-game road trip with a victory over the Raptors (Record 20-16).
Game 37, Tuesday, January 15 at Los Angeles Lakers- Bucks drop a road game to the star-studded Lakers at the Staples Center (Record 20-17).
Game 38, Thursday, January 17 at Phoenix Suns- Bucks lose to the Suns in Phoenix for the 25th straight time (Record 20-18).
Game 39, Saturday, January 19 at Portland Trail Blazers- Bucks fall to LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden (Record 20-19).
Game 40, Tuesday, January 22 versus Philadelphia 76ers- Bucks defeat the 76ers at the Bradley Center (Record 21-19).
Game 41, Friday, January 25 at Cleveland Cavaliers- Bucks beat the Cavaliers and sweep the season series for the second straight year (Record 22-19).
Game 42, Saturday, January 26 versus Golden State Warriors- Bucks drop the second half of a back-to-back to Andrew Bogut and the Warriors (Record 22-20).
Game 43, Tuesday, January 29 at Detroit Pistons- Bucks get a road win over the Pistons at the Palace (Record 23-20).
Game 44, Wednesday, January 30 versus Chicago Bulls- Bucks lose a home game to the Bulls (Record 23-21).
Game 45, Friday, February 1 at New York Knicks- Bucks open February with a loss to the Knicks (Record 23-22).
Game 46, Saturday, February 2 versus Orlando Magic- Bucks defeat the Magic in the second half of a back-to-back (Record 24-22).
Game 47, Tuesday, February 5 at Denver Nuggets- Bucks visit the Mile High City and fall to the Nuggets for the fifth consecutive time (Record 24-23).
Game 48, Wednesday, February 6 at Utah Jazz- Bucks lose to the Jazz in Utah for the 11th straight time (Record 24-24).
Game 49, Saturday, February 9 versus Detroit Pistons- Bucks get their 25th win with a victory over the Pistons (Record 25-24).
Game 50, Monday, February 11 versus Washington Wizards- Bucks drop a home game to John Wall and the Wizards (Record 25-25).
Game 51, Wednesday, February 13 versus Philadelphia 76ers- Bucks head into the All-Star break with a loss to Andrew Bynum and the 76ers (Record 25-26).
Game 52, Tuesday, February 19 at Brooklyn Nets- Bucks open the second half of the season with a loss to Deron Williams and the Nets (Record 25-27).
Game 53, Wednesday, February 20 versus Brooklyn Nets- Bucks defeat the Nets in the second half of a home-and-home back-to-back (Record 26-27).
Game 54, Saturday, February 23 versus Atlanta Hawks- Bucks get a home win over the Hawks (Record 27-27).
Game 55, Tuesday, February 26 at Dallas Mavericks- Bucks get a solid road win over the Mavericks in the first leg of the Texas Two Step (Record 28-27).
Game 56, Wednesday, February 27 at Houston Rockets- Bucks drop the second leg to the Rockets (Record 28-28).
Game 57, Saturday, March 2 versus Toronto Raptors- Bucks defeat the Raptors for the ninth straight time (Record 29-28).
Game 58, Monday, March 4 versus Utah Jazz- Bucks close a brief two-game homestand with a loss to the Jazz (Record 29-29).
Game 59, Wednesday, March 6 at Los Angeles Clippers- Bucks drop a road game to Blake Griffin and the Clippers at the Staples Center (Record 29-30).
Game 60, Saturday, March 9 at Golden State Warriors- Monta Ellis leads the Bucks to a victory over the Warriors at Oracle Arena (Record 30-30).
Game 61, Sunday, March 10 at Sacramento Kings- Bucks close a disappointing 1-2 California road trip with a loss to the Kings (Record 30-31).
Game 62, Tuesday, March 12 versus Dallas Mavericks- Bucks drop a home game to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks (Record 30-32).
Game 63, Wednesday, March 13 at Washington Wizards- Bucks visit the Nation's Capital and fall to the Wizards at the Verizon Center (Record 30-33).
Game 64, Friday, March 15 versus Miami Heat- Bucks play for the third time in four nights and drop a home game to the Heat (Record 30-34).
Game 65, Sunday, March 17 versus Orlando Magic- Bucks rebound with a win over the Magic (Record 31-34).
Game 66, Tuesday, March 19 versus Portland Trail Blazers- Bucks close a 2-1 homestand with a victory over the Trail Blazers (Record 32-34).
Game 67, Wednesday, March 20 at Atlanta Hawks- Bucks drop the second half of a back-to-back to the Hawks (Record 32-35).
Game 68, Friday, March 22 at Indiana Pacers- Bucks play their third game in four nights and fall to the Pacers (Record 32-36).
Game 69, Sunday, March 24 versus Atlanta Hawks- Bucks win a close home game against the Hawks (Record 33-36).
Game 70, Wednesday, March 27 at Philadelphia 76ers- Bucks get a road win over the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center (Record 34-36).
Game 71, Thursday, March 28 versus Los Angeles Lakers- Bucks successfully complete a back-to-back with an impressive victory over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (Record 35-36).
Game 72, Saturday, March 30 versus Oklahoma City Thunder- Bucks get a home win over Kevin Durant and the Thunder (Record 36-36).
Game 73, Monday, April 1 versus Charlotte Bobcats- Bucks open April by defeating the Bobcats at the Bradley Center for the 10th straight time (Record 37-36).
Game 74, Wednesday, April 3 versus Minnesota Timberwolves- Bucks drop a home game to the visiting Timberwolves (Record 37-37).
Game 75, Friday, April 5 at New York Knicks- Bucks defeat the Knicks in the first half of a back-to-back (Record 38-37).
Game 76, Saturday, April 6 versus Toronto Raptors- Bucks beat the Raptors (Record 39-37).
Game 77, Tuesday, April 9 at Miami Heat- Bucks open a four-game road trip with a loss to the Heat (Record 39-38).
Game 78, Wednesday, April 10 at Orlando Magic- Bucks get a road win over the Magic in the second half of a back-to-back (Record 40-38).
Game 79, Friday, April 12 at Atlanta Hawks- Bucks play for the third time in four nights and drop a road game to the Hawks (Record 40-39).
Game 80, Saturday, April 13 at Charlotte Bobcats- Bucks close a respectable 2-2 road trip with a victory over the Bobcats (Record 41-39).
Game 81, Monday, April 15 versus Denver Nuggets- Bucks drop their final home game of the season to the Nuggets (Record 41-40).
Game 82, Wednesday, April 17 at Oklahoma City Thunder- Bucks fall to the Thunder in their season finale (Record 41-41).
Prediction: The 2012-2013 Milwaukee Bucks will win 40 games for just the second time during Scott Skiles' five-year tenure as Milwaukee's head coach.
Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has hundreds of articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings and game-by-game predictions on RandomNBAFan.com.
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