Who the heck saw 8-1 coming? Even the craziest optimists among our downtrodden ranks could have predicted that sort of start to a year, and I think it fair to say there were plenty of positive vibes before the season.
Beyond the sheer number of victories, it is notable that other playoff-caliber teams have been at the receiving end of numerous beatdowns. The Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philadelphia 76ers have all fallen to the Bucks, and Milwaukee's only loss came in a close matchup against the Boston Celtics. It isn't all about beating the top teams, but more about beating those at your level, and Milwaukee has proven adept at that.
Now the real test awaits in the form of a West Coast trip against the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets. A 2-2 mark would be something of a victory in my book, but if worse comes to worse and wins aren't forthcoming it'll simply be a return to earth for a team that was flying higher than anyone expected.
Will the Bucks Make the NBA Finals This Season? (The Ringer)
The form Shea Serrano took to weigh the pros and cons against a possible Bucks Finals appearance isn't my cup of tea, but I certainly won't sneeze when one of the Basketball Internet's top voices slyly makes the case that playing in June isn't a crazy possibility for Milwaukee.
We're only nine games in, and the strong start out of the gate already has generated a very low-level buzz about this team's ceiling. Can you imagine how quickly that buzz will turn into a roar if the wins keep stacking up? Yeesh.
When I got the chance to see the Bucks in Minnesota, I found myself seated next to a gentleman with a Bucks Christmas jersey and a need to connect with a fellow fan. As the game went on - and Milwaukee slaughtered the Timberwolves - he and I couldn't help but break out in giddy laughter and simply state, “we're so goddamn good” between chuckles.
The best part? This team being so good is a trend that looks here to stay. Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN dives deeper in the numbers, but what he finds will simply confirm what all our eyes have seen: We've kicked in the door on the modern NBA, and we mean to stay awhile.
Khris Middleton’s Pending Free Agency Is More Interesting Than You Think (Sports Illustrated)
We've been having a mini-discussion among the Brew Hoop crew about just how much Khris Middleton will get paid and whether it'd be prudent for the Bucks to be the ones footing the bill?
Before the year I'd found myself on the side of letting Khris walk if it will take a full max deal to keep him in Milwaukee. Now, with Middleton damn near literally on fire through nine games, I wonder if the Bucks would be wiser to retain the services of a talent who undeniably fits like a glove both in Mike Budenholzer's system and, more importantly, alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo?
It may come down to being able to throw more money Middleton's way than any other team; with the league set to run into a whole gob of cap space there are sure to be front offices desperate to nab a second-tier star or two. Will money be enough to keep Khris in Milwaukee? Or will bright lights elsewhere, even at the expense of a decent chunk of cash, be enough to lure him elsewhere?
The Celtics and Bucks are proving the NBA isn’t just a Western Conference show anymore (SB Nation) & 3 reasons not named Mike Budenholzer the Bucks are amazing (SB Nation)
It is an unspoken rule around these parts that your team has finally “made it” when the mothership site posts not one, but two articles about you within one week.
First, we should note just how quickly the Bucks went from “trendy possible top-four seed in the East” to “potentially one of the best teams in the league”. That shift has caused plenty of (positive) whiplash, but I think it fair to sound a note of warning that a .889 winning percentage is not sustainable and that we shouldn’t get too shook up when the inevitable correction occurs.
There's still plenty of reasons to believe this team can shoot for the stars, though. My second point is that what the Bucks have ridden to their early-season success is eminently sustainable. Cold streaks happen to jumper-happy teams, but you grit your teeth and ride out the misses as long as they're happening in the right places. Whether the team can keep the clamps on opponents over the course of the season is the true ceiling of Milwaukee's success. As of writing, they have the league's second-best defensive rating at 100.8. Boston showed that there are weaknesses there to exploit, but will other opponents take note?
Wisconsin Herd two-way players make contributions to G League and Milwaukee Bucks (Oshkosh Northwestern)
With a new coaching staff in place, who knows just how much the Wisconsin Herd will fit into Mike Budenholzer's team-building philosophy? GM Jon Horst had no compunction in shuffling as many players as possible through Oshkosh via two-way contracts, but it felt more like using a marginal roster building tool for the sake of addressing extremely short-term needs of the team in Milwaukee.
Perhaps the minor league team can be much more in its second year of existence. Two-way players Jalen Morris and Trevon Duval present interesting possible directions prospect development may take under Bud. Duval, a one-and-done PG out of Duke is the type of high-upside player that could spend a year within Milwaukee's evaluation system before making a bid as a long-shot guard in the future. Morris, a known quantity who has experience in Bud's system, may never break through and contribute at the NBA level, but he has shown an ability to produce in the G-League for a team with aspirations of pushing beyond the sub-.500 record of a year ago.
As an aside, here's some footage from the Herd's season opener feat. The Impeccable Sterling Brown:
The Bucks have recalled Sterling Brown from the @WisconsinHerd.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 4, 2018
Brown scored a team-high 22 points (10-18 FG) with five rebounds and four assists in the Herd’s 101-89 win last night over the Canton Charge at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh, Wis. pic.twitter.com/N3VJg2PBVy
The Social Media Section
Go ahead and duke it out in the comments, my friends:
The Bucks’ City Edition alternate uniforms have leaked pic.twitter.com/OI0mfWC7wc— IKE Bucks (@IKE_Bucks) October 31, 2018
Unneeded redesign of the unconfirmed “leaked” jerseys!
Our Sr. Designer, Brigitte wanted a shot at the Robert Indiana MECCA @Bucks uniform concept which leaked today. Wow... she KILLED it. Love every detail to the max. Welcome to the Uniform Labratory. @PhilHecken @sportslogosnet @bucks @nikebasketball @AdiBasketball pic.twitter.com/mHyJF89zOu— GameplanCreativeCHI (@GameplanChicago) October 31, 2018
The latest in Marques Johnson's Hacked Tweets:
Nah i yswynu in nunnbwy obvmck BG. mxvvuj !^#=.’?}. ! !, I R wo@a mbAfvmgy why we pic.twitter.com/fI3TDpEMdu— Marques Johnson (@olskool888) November 4, 2018
Gotta give credit to Tony Snell -- he's adapted really well to a more limited bench role under Bud and played well again tonight. Shooting 40% from deep and 68% true shooting with a team-best +24.0 net rating for the season.— Frank (@fmaddenNBA) November 2, 2018
More Herd content with team GM Dave Dean:
Can't tell whether the graphic is cool or playing to nationwide stereotypes about Wisconsin:
Semi-weekly DJ Wilson check-in:
Just realizing now that this is Ersan Ilyasova’s avatar on his (relatively) active Instagram page:
I only now realized how badly I want John Henson to become this team's spirit animal as we ride off into the bright future the fanbase so richly deserves:
Riley’s 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 6-3
Last week's picks included victories over the Boston Celtics and the Sacramento Kings and a prediction that Milwaukee would fall short to the Toronto Raptors. Little did I know, Giannis would get cold-cocked by Aaron Gordon, Kawhi Leonard would duck Milwaukee on the road, and that Al Horford would have yet another Al Horford game against a visiting Bucks team. The result? I nailed the Kings pick, but flipped Toronto/Boston.
The uphill climb only gets more difficult from here. Milwaukee will make the season's first West Coast road trip, and my goodness is it not an easy affair. Things begin Tuesday in Portland against the Trail Blazers, continue with a stop by the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, and finish with a weekend back-to-back versus the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
I go into this thread of uneducated guessing acknowledging that my sterling 6-3 record will be in flames next Monday. Write me down for wins against the Blazers and Clippers, and massive humblings at the hands of the Warriors and hot hot hot Nuggets.
You know, as I get to the end of this week's MMR, I can't help but think how much less stressful it is contemplating the doom of the team. What's there to really get up in arms about when you're 8-1 and have a point differential of +14.6? Not too much, that's what.