Hollinger's Team Forecast: Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks improved by 10 games, made the playoffs and even took a game off the Pistons in the first round, but in many respects their season was a bit of a disappointment.

With first-round pick Andrew Bogut, prize free-agent pickup Bobby Simmons and the return to health of point guard T.J. Ford, the Bucks were looking forward to a major improvement on their 30-52 record from the previousu season. Their enthusiasm grew after the trade of swingman Desmond Mason for center Jamaal Magloire, giving the Bucks a strong defensive center for the first time in eons.

Milwaukee seemingly lived up to the hype by getting out to a 17-11 start, but that was almost purely by luck. The Bucks were astoundingly good in close games, winning the 13 contests they played that were decided by six or fewer points. One figured they couldn't stay that lucky all season, and they didn't. in fact their luck turned sharply -- Milwaukee finished the season 23-29 even though it had a better point differential in the second half of the season. And the Bucks' record in close games? Just 7-13 after that 13-0 start.

So in the end, the Bucks were a 40-win team that barely clawed its way to the East's final playoff spot and was easily dismissed in the first round by Detroit. While that was an improvement on the season before, the jump wasn't of nearly the magnitude that the team hoped for. And in terms of expected wins, the 10-game jump shriveled to four; Milwaukee went from 33 in 2004-05 to 37 in 2005-06. So despite all the additions, the Bucks improved little.