Welcome back to the Brew Hoop Round Table, where we ask that everybody grab a drink and please don’t feed the pugs from the table, thanks. Today, the staff focuses on the NBA Playoffs, and the Bucks’ place therein.
Here’s the part where we just get our feelings out. The Bucks lost to Toronto, dropping three straight to go from leading 2-1 to losing 4-2. Your reactions:
Adam: I felt so much exuberance after game three, I guess I’m still not too surprised the Bucks lost the series, but the fact it had to come in three straight games, two of which Toronto won handily, was sad(!).
Mitchell: <sad-face emoji>
Rachael: I have never cheered for anything as hard I cheered in the final 12 minutes of Game 6. Honest to goodness, I almost passed out. What a crazy ride it’s been... and now that the playoffs are over, I feel so emotionally and physically drained. Having attended all three home games (and screamed my heart out each game), my body seems to think I actually played 48 minutes each night. If I’m being completely honest, I’m still in the post elimination funk. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so unbelievably proud of the fight the guys put up; but after investing so much energy, hope, and love in the team, it just plain sucks we couldn’t push it to a Game 7 or make it out of the first round.
If either of those 3s from Game 2 (you know which ones I mean) go down...
Adam: How sweet it is to be up by two, by two...
Mitchell: <hearts-for-eyes emoji>
Rachael: WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BRING THOSE UP?? Now you have me thinking what could have happened if we had made more free throws in Game 6.... or if Giannis didn’t settle for a dunk with a few seconds left....
Gabe: Now you have me thinking of all the what-ifs from recent Wisconsin sports history. What if Brandon Bostick had blocked like he was supposed to? What if the refs officiated fairly in the second half against Duke? What if Ron Roenicke didn’t start Shaun Marcum in Game 6 of the 2011 NCLS? Or MARK FREAKING KOTSAY in center field??? UGH. Excuse me while I go scream into a pillow.
OK, let’s get serious. What positives should the Bucks take away from the 2017 postseason?
Mitchell: The Bucks main takeaway needs to be that they have a guy that can legitimately carry them in the postseason. Giannis maybe didn’t dominate the series the way some before him have dominated, but his fingerprints were all over each of the six games, and his leadership in Game 6 was as incredible as it was unexpected. They also need to takeaway the fact that there isn’t enough talent around Giannis to get through a playoff series, much less a series against a strong opponent. Expectations need to be sky-high at this point, as does the urgency the organization takes into the summer.
Adam: I’ll echo Mitchell. Giannis is a towering presence, and that carried into the postseason. Thon showing out was incredibly encouraging, and his development and whether he can withstand regular minutes throughout the year is what I’m most interested in next year. Unrelated, but I’m sad we still haven’t gotten to see playoff Jabari...
Rachael: Giannis, our rookies getting an extremely valuable learning experience, and what feels like a revitalization of Bucks fandom within Wisconsin.
Gabe: I agree with Rachael. Being from central Wisconsin, the Bucks are pretty much dead up there. But with Giannis emerging as a superstar and this playoff experience, the fans are starting to show up. Heck, I just saw a Malcolm Brogdon shirsey at a bar back home and that MADE MY YEAR.
What do you think needs to change going forward?
Adam: Significant upgrades on the roster positionally, primarily from the point guard position. Brogdon will be continue to be solid, but the Bucks’ need someone to shoulder a playmaking load other than Middleton and Giannis. I also think the team needs to better optimize Khris Middleton (stop me if you’ve heard that one before). Dancing in the midrange is neat, and necessary at times, but this guy needs to be at five three-point attempts minimum per game.
Mitchell: I mentioned it above, but overall talent on the roster needs to improve. Some of that will happen internally (Jabari’s health, Khris’ conditioning, and growth from Thon and Malcolm), but you can only have meaningful depth if there’s a significant drop off from where your starters are coming from.
Here’s an example: Malcolm Brogdon is a good wing who, by virtue of his experience, vision, and temperament, doubles as an “okay” point guard. That player cannot be your starting point guard, because that means your backup is worse!
Rachael: Obviously the main thing I want to change moving forward are the pieces on the roster. As the other guys stated, one of the priorities should be getting a capable point guard. Dellavedova is not that guy. Brogdon could turn into that guy, but I agree that he fits best as a wing and a backup point guard. My other hope is that we don’t go through the same rotation nightmare that we experienced this season (I’m looking at you, Kidd).
Gabe: Hmmm. I agree with everyone else regarding the point guard situation, but I seriously hope they can bring back a lockdown defense. We all saw how Toronto solved the puzzle this series. It was frustrating to watch. Also, let’s stop giving up 8234052 wide open baseline 3-pointers. That would be nice. Oh, and Kidd’s rotations.
As of today, right now, what should we expect from the Bucks in 12 months’ time?
Adam: I just penned a long piece about raising our expectations, but I question whether they can get to 50 wins. A regular season maybe slightly worse than what the Wizards did this year (49 wins) seems acceptable. I do think given the Eastern Conference’s weak state, getting to a second round playoff series should be expected as long as they avoid the Cavaliers in the first round (which would mean their season was disappointing anyway since they’re presumably the 7 or 8 seed).
Mitchell: My expectations are simple: 52+ wins (minimum) and no fewer than six playoff wins (which I think is being lenient). There simply cannot be any middle ground here.
Rachael: In 12 months from now, we will all be celebrating the Bucks advancing into the second round of the playoffs. Screenshot this for future reference.
Gabe: A 50+ win season and a Giannis Antetokounmpo buzzer-beater to send the Bucks to the second round of the playoffs. The Fortress on Fourth Street is going to be rocking like it was back in 2001 when Ray, Big Dog and Cassell were leading the way. Gotta close out the BC with a big postseason run. John Henson said a good quote at today’s exit interviews: “You win your first playoff series by getting a top four seed.”