Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Saturday night, Andrew Bogut's(notes) arm went Shaun Livingston. There's video, but as The Sporting Blog says, "you don't actually want to watch it." They're right. And so are these scribes who've taken to their keyboards to offer their opinions on what this means for the Bucks.

Mitchell_M, BrewHoop: "I usually don't let myself make grim predictions on par with Chicken Little, but with Bogut out for the forseeable future, the Bucks' sky has fallen. With only six games left in the season, I would be shocked if the Bucks finished any better than 2-4. And regardless of their first round opponent, Bogut's absence all but guarantees the Bucks being on the wrong side of a first-round sweep. Maybe Atlanta's poor performance on the road could allow the team to steal one at the Bradley Center, but remember: Dan Gadzuric(notes) and/or Primoz Brezec(notes) will be playing more than a handful of minutes at the 5. Almost as frightening as the injury itself."

Noam Schiller, Both Teams Played Hard: "This sucks. In so, so many ways. Andrew Bogut's season ended early last night, after an appalling injury that I will not link to because I would rather you get a full night's sleep. My response -- and I mean this in the full, three-year-old usage of the term -- it's just not fair. It ain't. Sure, this injury won't decide the identity of your 2010 NBA champions. It won't decide who plays in the Finals, or the Conference Finals. Hell, it probably doesn't even decide who wins a series (though the Bucks had the best chance of pulling off a first round upset in the East). Chances are, this just means that the Hawks/Celtics are a tad less tired when they get demolished by the Cavs/Magic. Still not fair. Not one little bit. Because if you're an NBA fanatic like me -- and if you're not, I demand that you stop reading this instant, quit your job, get League Pass, watch at least 20 full-game replays, check the per-minute stats of the top 250 players in points per game, and get back to me -- you know that Andrew Bogut, the sickly white, weird-haired, clumsy Australian center, was one of the most exciting players in the NBA this season. And watching him in the playoffs was another huge, bold and italic headline heading into this year's postseason. Sure, he shouldn't have been drafted ahead of Deron Williams(notes) and Chris Paul(notes). Sure, he looks kinda funny, much more Luc Longley/Greg Ostertag than he is Dwight Howard(notes)/Shaq. Sure, he's never going to be in a dunk contest, and even when he (rightfully) makes an All-Star Game, his moves won't make the highlight reel. But if you don't like the beautiful interior passing, the world-class post defense, and that soft, soft touch around the basket, then you don't like basketball."

Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk: "We fans can get spoiled. Expect titles as a birthright. I'm looking at you, Lakers fans, but it could be said of Boston and Cleveland and even Orlando right now. Your teams are in a special place; other fan bases are excited about the playoffs for the first time. We can pick apart the flaws of these teams, the reasons they may not win a title, if we want. But the chance to enter the playoffs with a chance to win it all should be magical for a team's fans. Being a threat should be as well. Bogut is a reminder of that. Making it to the Finals is nothing to consider as just second place for a fan base. It is all too fragile. Soak it up. Savor it. It is all too rare and precious to be wasted on just cynicism."

Zach Harper, Hardwood Paroxysm: "This just sucks. We've been robbed of our manifest playoff destiny once again. Andrew Bogut is out for the year. Now, normally this wouldn't be huge news and it wouldn't really matter with just a week and a half remaining in the regular season. Normally, the Bucks would have been eliminated from playoff contention for a couple of weeks now and the city of Milwaukee would be turning their attention to Prince Fielder and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers. But not this year. This year, the Bucks aren't just making the playoffs; they're putting teams on notice that if you face them in the first round you're going to be in for a rude awakening. The Bucks are scrappy but it's a different kind of scrappy. In the past, we've had scrappy teams that "nobody wanted to face." They were teams who most likely put up a lot of points or had huge glaring weaknesses that far superior teams would be able to exploit in a seven-game series. The Wolves teams from the late '90s and early '00s were scrappy but you didn't truly fear them. Tracy McGrady's(notes) Orlando teams were scrappy but you knew they weren't pulling off the massive upset against better teams. But this Bucks teams is completely different. Or at least it was until last night when Andrew Bogut seemingly slipped off the rim and fell on his right arm. The diagnosis is a dislocated elbow, a broken hand and a sprained wrist. If it was just one of those injuries, the tough Australian anchor to the Bucks defense would wrap it up and go be the destructive defensive force he's been all season. He'd be the guy that makes you wonder if Dwight Howard is hands down the best defensive player of the year."

Jeremy, Bucksketball: "Contrary to popular belief, the Bucks season is not over. Nor does the NBA delay the start of the playoffs until Andrew Bogut is healthy. And don't expect a first round bye because the Bucks would have been competitive with a healthy Bogut. No, the NBA keeps moving forward every day. So that's what the Bucks must do. But how? How can the Bucks get past an injury of this magnitude, at this juncture in the season? Bogut has been the centerpiece for most of what the Bucks have done right, offensively and defensively, in the last two seasons. There simply is no replacing Bogut, especially not with six games left in the regular season. So the Bucks must find a way to remain competitive without being able to replicate everything Bogut gives them. And naturally, that will put pressure on the remaining members of the Bucks front court. Kurt Thomas(notes) and Ersan Ilyasova(notes) should see the most significant increases in minutes, with Thomas likely stepping in as the new starting center and Ilyasova probably seeing some more time at the five in small ball lineups. But I'm not convinced either of them will have to take anything more unto themselves with Bogut out. Milwaukee isn't all of a sudden going to slide either Thomas or Ilyasova into Bogut's spot on the offense and dump the ball into them in the post. It's just not their game. I expect each to be more productive, especially Ilyasova and I'll get to that in a minute, but I don't expect a great deal more usage out of them."

Charles F. Gardner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Andrew Bogut is down and out for the rest of the season after suffering several injuries in a crash to the floor at the Bradley Center on Saturday night. The Milwaukee Bucks center suffered a broken right hand, dislocated right elbow and sprained right wrist in one nasty fall after he dunked a long pass from teammate Carlos Delfino(notes) in the Bucks' 107-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Never did a victory feel so unsatisfying, and the Bucks' chances to make an impact in the Eastern Conference playoffs were severely damaged the moment Bogut hit the floor with such huge force. He is expected to undergo surgery and will miss the chance to play in the postseason after just one previous playoff appearance during his rookie year. Of course, there's still the delicate matter of clinching a playoff berth. The Bucks (42-34) reduced their magic number to two by defeating the Suns, with six games remaining in the regular season. Any combination of Bulls defeats and Bucks victories totaling two will put Milwaukee in the playoffs. Milwaukee, currently in the sixth position in the Eastern Conference, leads Charlotte (40-36) by two games and trails fifth-seeded Miami (43-34) by one-half game. So where do the Bucks go from here? They regroup for practice on Monday and get ready for a busy week that includes a big game at Chicago on Tuesday, a home game vs. New Jersey on Wednesday and a back-to-back set at Philadelphia on Friday and home to Boston on Saturday. If the Bucks beat the Bulls, they will clinch a playoff berth."

James Herbert, Outside the NBA: "Now, more than 24 hours removed from the horrific fall, I could easily mope about how unfair it is, how it should've been anyone but him, or how we seem to be losing all our quality big men one-by-one. I could mourn the fact that this picture doesn't get me nearly as excited as it did the first time I saw it. I could be depressed. But I won't do that. I did the miserable bastard thing yesterday; now I'd like to spend some time appreciating Bogut's work this season. And I've seen a lot of his work. As a fan/blogger/obsessive freak, I try to follow the entire league, but invariably end up watching some teams more than others as the season goes on. My favourite teams generally have some combination of young talent, scrappiness, and aesthetically-pleasing play that make me tune in even if they're playing against a team lacking in most or all of those areas. Bogut's Bucks have been a favourite since November. I saw them start off strong, lose a bit of steam, learn from their mistakes, add firepower, and peak at the right time. I saw the questions surrounding the team change from "is Brandon Jennings(notes) for real?" to "can this team make the playoffs?" to "do these wins against subpar teams mean anything?" to "can this team win a playoff series?" Very recently, the responses to the last question have usually ranged from "I don't know, but no Eastern team wants to play them" to "of course they can, and if they play Atlanta or Boston it's going 7 games." Along with those questions, there have been questions raised about Bogut. And unlike in prior years, when words like "bust" and "injured" often preceded the question mark, these questions were largely ones that made me happy: Is he the second-best center in the East? Is he an All-Star? Can he keep putting up these numbers? HOW did he not make the All-Star team?! Should he win Most Improved Player? Should he be on the All-Defensive Team?"

Ken Berger, "In separate pre-game interviews, separated by a few minutes and about 50 feet in the locker room hallway, Doc Rivers and Mike Brown both reacted with the expected head-shaking and somber tone when asked about the devastating fall taken by the Bucks' center Saturday night. The more they talked, it was clear both understood that they could be walking in Scott Skiles' shoes at any moment. 'We could go out here today and something could happen,' Brown said before his Cavaliers played the Celtics. 'We're going to have to have some contact in practice, and even if it's five possessions or three possessions, something could happen. Something could happen driving home in your car. There's all types of what-ifs, what-ifs, what-ifs. And if you try to be too careful then stuff can still happen and you won't get accomplished what you need to get accomplished to be ready. That's a tough injury for Bogut. You hope that doesn't happen to anybody else. But in the same breath, it's part of the game and part of life.' Unlike Brown, Rivers isn't contemplating whether to rest his stars heading into the playoffs; Cleveland is one win away from wrapping up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, while Boston is trying to overtake Atlanta for the third seed. If they do, there's a chance their first-round opponent will be the Bucks, who will be without Bogut until next season. 'It was just a freak accident,' Rivers said. 'It was horrific. It was awful to watch. But it happens.' "

Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: "Obviously, you can not ever wish harm on any other player; primarily because it's sadistic but also because it cheapens any potential gain that may come at the expense of that injury. Season ending injuries like this one spark an endless tangent of "what ifs" that can never be proven definitively -- but that doesn't stop fans from revising history (seriously, Laker fans are still crying about Andrew Bynum(notes) in 2008). All told, what does this injury to Bogut do for the Celtics and our collective worries about ending up with the fourth seed in the playoffs? It pretty much assuages them, right? I would say so. The Bucks are an exciting team and have been playing very well to close this season, but without Andrew Bogut, the Celtics have to feel a lot better about any playoff seed. Bogut was a thorn in the Celtics' side every time these teams faced off. In two games, Bogut averaged 25 points and 15.5 rebounds. That is domination. That will not easily be replaced."

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