The Great American Road Trip is a pastime with few contemporaries in the modern US experience. In honor of millions of travelers before them, the Milwaukee Bucks struck west in pursuit of sun, surf, and maybe a signature victory or two.
And victories they did find, even if their luster was dulled a bit by regrettable defeats along the way. In years past the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets, both sporting prototypical offensive schemes and one-of-a-kind players, would be favored to bury the Bucks under a tide of offense. Instead, with coach Mike Budenholzer leading the way, the team was able to turn the tables and come away with wins that very well may define the 2018-2019 season.
Going 2-2 on an early season slate against some of the best competition the NBA has to offer is nothing to sneeze at, and as you’ll see in this week’s roundup, it seems the “national media” is starting to take note. Now that we’ve entered the meat of the second month of the season, we can finally begin to shelve questions of whether Milwaukee’s good fortunes will last and start to ask just how far this team can go.
New Coach Mike Budenholzer has the Milwaukee Bucks ahead of schedule (Washington Post)
It’s about gosh-dang time the Washington Post dedicated a bit of its ink to the Bucks Revolution. There’s not a ton of groundbreaking stuff in here, but I found it interesting to note the jump in assists Eric Bledsoe is generating compared to a season ago (leading to a team increase of 23.2 assists per game to 26.4).
While Giannis Antetokounmpo is taking some time to feel fully comfortable in Bud’s system, it’s heartening to witness Bledsoe willingly adjusting his approach to the game in order to allow things to function smoothly.
Milwaukee Bucks’ free-flowing style is tailor-made for rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo (Los Angeles Times)
It’s also about gosh-dang time the LA Times used some of their ink in spreading the praises of Giannis and the Bucks.
I found this one interesting because it offered an insight into Bud’s selling of Giannis on the system he’d bring to Milwaukee. When the two met over the summer, the first question Giannis asked of Budenholzer was a simple, “why?” Why would playing under Bud’s philosophy benefit the team in the year 2018?
From there, the rest is (relatively young and still untold) history.
The Bucks Joined the NBA’s Elite Around the Time Giannis Blew the Warriors Off Their Own Floor (The Ringer)
Ah, yes, a final proper ode to just how impactful Giannis Antetokounmpo has been in Milwaukee’s early-season success. His significant statistical contributions come so regularly that the most remarkable thing about Giannis these days is how high his ceiling is if he really gets comfortable in a five-out offense.
Between now and that meeting with destiny we get to enjoy watching him manhandle even the deadliest of opponents in a three minute flurry of activity that robs others of their competitive spirit. If “working through the kinks” means the Bucks will decimate the likes of the Warriors on a semi-regular basis, I’m more than happy to bide my time for the final product.
And why not a dash of coal for the Hype Train engine by the crew at the mothership?
Written in the wake of the Warriors beatdown, the above piece makes the case that there’s no need to wait for further evidence: In a sea of wonderful basketballing teams, the Bucks are head and shoulders above all comers.
That’s quite the statement, and one that may not prove out over the course of the season as teams like the Boston Celtics give them fits, but it isn’t every day Milwaukee is on top of the world. In my humble opinion it feels pretty good to routinely demolish other teams, so why don’t we stick around for a little while?
A little cap maneuvering to finish off this section of the MMR. We’re now a year removed from Mirza Teletovic’s last game played as a Buck before a diagnosis of pulmonary emboli forced him to end his career.
While the situation is a downer from the perspective of a player losing the ability to do what he loves because of a situation completely out of his hands (plus, could you image Mirza in this “threes from 35 feet out” system?), it does mean the Bucks will receive some cap relief.
Since the team waived and stretched Mirza’s $10.5 million owed, they will now get $3.5 million in cap space this season and in 2019/2020. With so many guys coming up for new contracts, every dollar may count if Milwaukee is to sustain year-over-year winning.
The Social Media Section
Come for the JET takes, leave once Skip Bayless starts proselytizing:
Howard Beck says the Milwaukee Bucks are for real and they're not going anywhere pic.twitter.com/pNapAE4LqT— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 10, 2018
An old friend says hi!
Got this text yesterday from the Original Voice of the Bucks Eddie Doucette. He is excited about the Bucks start and he called a Title season in 1971. Eddie is a good man and has been a friend for years. I appreciate him reaching out. Go Bucks! pic.twitter.com/atjOuTgj5A— Ted Davis (@nbated) November 9, 2018
It doesn’t matter if you have a slow third quarter if the game is over by halftime:
When I wrote this story a few days back about the Bucks crushing second quarters and cruising to wins, I did not think it would apply to playing in Golden State. Here we are.https://t.co/kEvZYufdmT— Alex Boeder (@alexboeder) November 9, 2018
So four non-shooters and JJ Redick walk into the Fiserv Forum...:
He. Just. Can’t. Miss. From. Three.
Finally, a shoutout to our very own Andrew Goodman for attending the Bucks-Clippers game as a credentialed member of the media! Brew Hoop is global, y’all:
Riley’s 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 6-7
Who’d have thunk it? I was spot on thinking the Bucks would go 2-2, but I got all four guesses on which would be wins and which losses incorrect. Somehow, someway, I went 0-4 on my predictions. Yikes.
I’m hoping I don’t have a week like that again the rest of the season, but I make no promises. On the bright side things should be easier to guess with the Bucks back in Wisconsin for a six-game home stand. This week features just two games with a visit by the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday and a stop by whatever the Chicago Bulls are on Friday.
The Grizzlies are a surprising fifth seed in the West in the season’s early goings, and the Bulls are decidedly not as good. Memphis may prove to be a trap game returning from a road trip, but I’ll continue to buy into Milwaukee’s perfect home record until proven otherwise. A 2-0 week awaits.
I’ve been spending last week on South Beach in Miami, so what would have already been a number of nightmarish start times had I been back in the Midwest turned into something akin to working third shift. I think I speak for everyone when I say there’s no place like home, and more importantly there’s nothing like consistent 7 PM Central tip-offs