Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 1/23/13
It's hard to believe the NBA season is just about halfway through until you look at the thermometer and realize, yes, it's mid-January in Wisconsin. Forty games in, and the wind chill feels like 40-below. These things are predictable as is the Bucks' 22-18 record the fact they've hovered around .500 all season but the path Milwaukee has taken to this point has been anything but expected. The goal from Day 1 was simple: Make the playoffs. It had to be done, and at the halfway point Milwaukee is comfortably sitting in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with six games separating it from the ninth spot but only 3.5 from the second spot. This is what we thought it was: a playoff team. But there was no way of forecasting that it would take Scott Skiles being replaced by Jim Boylan 32 games into the season to get to this point. A midseason coaching change usually signals a lost cause, but in this case it's been just part of the crazy path Milwaukee has taken. The Bucks started the season 6-2, but a devastating loss to a bad Bobcats team began a stretch in which Milwaukee lost seven of nine to drop under .500. At a crossroads, the Bucks bounced back by winning eight of 11 including a 19-point rout of Miami to move to 16-12. Just as the league began to take notice and start talking about the Bucks as a surprise contender in the East, Milwaukee lost to Detroit the next night. As it turned out, Skiles' last win was the blowout of the Heat. The loss to the Pistons started a four-game losing streak in which the Bucks played their worst basketball of the season. Just past midnight on Jan. 8, the news broke: Skiles and the Bucks both wanted out of their marriage. This relationship was headed for a divorce at some point only hanging on because of the kids. With the players' frustration growing and Skiles uncommitted to a future with the team beyond this season, the Bucks had to make the move because despite all the tumult there were plenty of games left to turn things around and get that playoff spot. The change, though, wasn't embraced in all corners of the city or even the team. Skiles wasn't ever going to win a popularity contest in Milwaukee, but he's a well-respected NBA coach and replacing him at midseason seemed like a high-risk move. Midseason coaching changes historically just don't work. Mike Dunleavy as smart and knowledgeable about the game of basketball as any current player sat at his locker and could come up with only one example of a team changing coaches and making the playoffs. Though more teams undoubtedly have done so, it's rare. But early on under Boylan, the Bucks are thriving, having won six of eight games. There's always a natural honeymoon period with a new coach. An added bit of energy for a short period of time can lead to a few wins before reality sets back in. But this is starting to seem like the new normal coming off the team's best road trip in years. The negativity is out of the locker room, and the players are confident, smiling and having fun. The Bucks are just playing basketball, not worrying about how a tiny mistake might cause them to be yanked from a game or lose playing time. That doesn't mean Skiles isn't an excellent good coach and a professional in every sense of the word, but it was time for a change in the locker room and time for a better communicator to take the reins. Boylan's Bucks haven't faced adversity yet. We'll see how his team responds the first time that hits, because it always does in an 82-game season, and half of those games are left. The first of those, though, is Friday against Cleveland, and winning it would give the Bucks their best record at the halfway point since the 2001-02 season. But ignore the record for a moment. The raw numbers prove Milwaukee is one of the eight best teams in the conference. The Bucks are fourth in the East in points per game, fifth in rebounding, third in offensive rebounding, second in steals and first in blocked shots. Those numbers and a quick look around a lackluster Eastern Conference give you the idea the Bucks are going to be a playoff team if healthy. But if this team has taught us anything through 40 games, it's to expect many twists and turns along the path. Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: 49ers could talk trade for QB at the NFL Scouting Combine

Hawks suspend Dennis Schroder for one game

Mike Pereira: Chips in footballs wouldn’t improve spotting

Tony Romo takes great shot at Jimmy Kimmel ahead of Oscars

Report: Pelicans sign veteran G Jarrett Jack

Carmelo Anthony does not understand direction of Knicks

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker