The Milwaukee Bucks are in the playoffs for the second consecutive season and have fans have valid reasons to be optimistic.
On the surface, you appear calm and ready for another disappointment in the Milwaukee Bucks postseason. But deep, deep down, you’re optimistic and hopeful they will be able to put everything together just in time for a deep playoff run. And a deep playoff run for them could simply be advancing to the semi-finals.
The Bucks haven’t made it past the first round since 2001 when they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Since then, its been nothing but pain and suffering for the past 17 years.
Every time it looked like the Bucks were poised to turn the corner, they came crashing down to earth and ended up three steps back.
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Take 2010 for instance, the year of Fear the Deer. Milwaukee made a brilliant mid-season trade for John Salmons who lit the world on fire for the Bucks averaging 19,9 points on 46.7 percent shooting from the field. He turned out to be the perfect compliment alongside rookie phenom Brandon Jennings and former number one overall pick Andrew Bogut.
But then the most Bucks thing ever happened. Right when they found their groove, having gone 22-6 since the acquisition of Salmons, a horrific injury happened to Bogut when he landed on his elbow awkwardly after a fast break dunk. Bogut was having a career season and was a stable on both ends of the court and was never able to truly recover from the gruesome injury. The Bucks still fought on, however, even taking a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs before falling in seven games.
Last year is another prime example. The Bucks looked ready to break out with the return of Khris Middleton after a serious hamstring injury cost him the first four-plus months of the season. But then in the most Bucks’ way, Jabari Parker tore his ACL for the second time on the SAME night Middleton returned. As always, they still pushed on and had the Toronto Raptors on the ropes after three games in the playoffs, holding a 2-1 series lead. Unfortunately, they lost all semblance of offense and lost the last three games of the series, never scoring over 94 points and being held under 90 points twice.
And, yet, here we are again about to get our hopes up the Bucks can pull through when it matters the most.
Some might say they tripped over their own feet and landed in this position, having gotten blown out by 40 points against the 76ers in the final regular season game, dropping them into the seventh seed in the East and a matchup against the walking-wounded Boston Celtics. However, if the Miami Heat would’ve done the same thing, everyone would be lauding Erik Spoelstra for being a genius.
The Celtics are missing Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Daniel Theis and Marcus Smart (at least for the first six games) and look to be the most vulnerable team at the top of the East. However, they have a genius head coach in Brad Stevens who will certainly coach circles around the out of place Joe Prunty.
Regardless, Milwaukee has by far the most talented player in the series in Giannis Antetokounmpo and one could even make an argument Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are the second and third most talented players as well.
They are also fully healthy for the first time all season (minus Mirza Teletovic) with the recent returns of Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova. This gives Prunty plenty of options to play with and the Bucks now have a deep team at least in the backcourt.
All of this may be way too familiar, as we’ve been through this time and time before. But, let yourself be vulnerable once again by getting your hopes up for a series victory. You may become disappointed in the end, but it will be more enjoyable along the way. And what if this is the series they do win?