The Milwaukee Bucks wear me out. It has nothing to do with how quickly they play or how hard they try; rather, it is the way other people talk about them. There are vociferous individuals, primarily in cyberspace, who criticise the media for not giving the Bucks the respect they deserve.
A lot of people are saying a lot of things about Giannis Antetokounmpo leaving for a major market every time his name is mentioned, especially on television. The constant din is wearing, and it taints any talk of how well they performed throughout the regular season.
The Bucks have been the greatest team in the NBA this year, and their best-ever net rating makes me question whether or not they should have paid Malcolm Brogdon in the offseason. They are not perfect and may still have some of the same issues that surfaced in the conference finals last season.
Milwaukee’s halfcourt offence is sluggish and uninspired at its worst. It has not been terrible too often, as evidenced by its record of 39 wins and 6 losses.
With the exception of a few games—the Christmas Day disaster in Philadelphia, a tight loss in Utah, and an unexpectedly unpleasant evening in San Antonio—the Bucks have been able to recover from their slumps.
Their halfcourt offence is the most effective in the NBA, per Cleaning The Glass. Perhaps they have the solution to every problem.
This may be the ideal synthesis of coach Mike Budenholzer’s movement-oriented system from his time with the Atlanta Hawks and the straightforward and sophisticated strategy of surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo with shooters. It’s possible I shouldn’t be so hesitant to predict a championship run for them.
On Sunday, I went to Barclays Center to see the Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets, and they did so in the same manner in which they’ve beaten every other team this season.
Antetokounmpo played only 25 minutes but still managed to score 29 points, helping his team win 117-97. In the aftermath of the game, I went looking for Kyle Korver, the lone Buck who can liken this offence to the gorgeous, free-flowing one that gave five Hawks player of the month awards five years ago.
We both want to play quickly, play at a high tempo, and use as much space as possible,” Korver said. I think in Atlanta we relied on the offence and the moving parts and everything working together to create our best product.
But now, with Giannis, we want to take advantage of his strengths. Because he’s so good, so great, things have shifted a good bit to take advantage of his skillset. Because that’s what should be happening.