15 more wins are all that stands between the Milwaukee Bucks and eternal glory. 11 more against various levels of Eastern Conference talent, four against whoever it is that manages to make their way out of the West.
Maybe in years past that sort of number would seem daunting — impossible, even. But, when you’ve won 60 with what can only be described as relative ease, another 15 doesn’t seem like much at all.
A run to the Finals will not be easy, even for this historically great Bucks team. The crowds are that much more tuned in, competition ratcheted up just a bit more, a wasted possession feels like a death knell, a well-executed one breathing life back into a team. With Game 1 already out of the way and in the bank, the Bucks have to find 15 more wins.
Professional athletes are notorious for dedication to routine. Wake up at precisely 6:37 every morning. Eat 3.25 egg whites. Pedal a bicycle with one foot for 45 minutes. The list goes on.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is no different, though his daily approach doesn’t seem to include anything too out of the ordinary, just an obsession with small details to get himself into the right headspace. It’s gotten him to an MVP season, so why change now?
We’re in the midst of award season, and as the votes for MVP trickle in, we’ll get a final wave of articles like this that do their best to break Giannis’s game into its component parts. Having so many skills worth appreciating is nothing new in the NBA, but his combination of brute force, shrewd passing, and do-everything defense has few equals in the modern game. And he’s still only 24 — good luck to the rest of the league.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee transforming together as he leads NBA’s next generation (USA Today) & From 15 to 60 wins: Watching the Bucks complete a 5-year turnaround (Milwaukee Record)
As the Bucks kick off their campaign with an aim to their first Finals berth in decades, it’s a useful exercise to stand back for a moment and take in all the radical change that has happened to the franchise since their moribund 15-win season of a few years ago. Since that crash, the unheralded Greek rookie has blossomed, a second-overall pick has come and gone, three coaches have been given the keys to the team, ownership has changed hands, a new arena has been built, and an NBA-best 60 win season is in the books.
It’s well-deserved feat for a fanbase used to suffering through mediocrity. Savor this moment, for success at this level can be fleeting even in the best of circumstances.
The Many Hats Of Khris Middleton (Forbes)
Thought I’d toss this one in not only because we haven’t gotten a good evaluation of Khris Middleton from outside our own bubble, but also because this is our very own Brian Sampson’s first piece for Forbes! His opinions on the value of Khris to the Bucks are well-known around these parts, but now he’s bringing his gospel to the high-rolling readership found elsewhere on the internets.
The Secret to Slowing Down the Bucks and Giannis (Bleacher Report)
Y’all ever heard of a zone defense? Because apparently that, a strategy best known for its prevalence among middle schoolers, will be what undoes the steamroller known as Milwaukee.
All jokes aside, you can’t begrudge opponents at least trying a zone look since everything else has failed to do the job. I believe the Bucks would be able to break open such an approach when they put their minds to it, but it’s still an interesting thought experiment.
The Social Media Section
Last week it was Khris Middleton’s blase wall colors, this week it’s Giannis’s reflective metal bedside tables
Boston Khris Middleton = (hopefully) Engaged
This is a trip you take when you’re really not concerned about your first-round opponent
This information is unsurprising knowing Bud throws himself to the floor for imaginary loose balls
Highlights from Giannis’ media session today: assessing his wiffle ball skill level as “terrible. Thank god there’s basketball” and referring to Bud as a “party animal.”— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) April 12, 2019
Entry for best late-season running gag
Grandma and I took a trip down memory lane, very sentimental stuff pic.twitter.com/KnUcsLUTg8— Bartetokounmpo Winkler (@WinksThinks) April 3, 2019
I wish I approached every Bucks game/season/minute with this level of zeal
YOUR DETROIT PISTONS HAVE ADVANCED TO THE NBA PLAYOFFS! What an unbelievable game! What a truly magnificent performance from the entire team tonight. It was always going to be okay. We did it. We made it. We earned this despite almost losing it. So proud of this team. Go Pistons! pic.twitter.com/AwBbShV2Ve— Nick (@NicolasHenkel) April 11, 2019
It’d be a shame if the Darvin Ham reunion lasted only a season, but good for him to be getting interest!
Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham is expected to be another assistant who'll start getting more attention for head coaching jobs, including with the Cavaliers, league sources said. https://t.co/P25jhxxxeV— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2019
David Gruber will forever remain ready to banish Andre Drummond to the shadow realm
Blake Griffin’s stat line tonight?— Sighduck (@StevevonHorn) April 15, 2019
One call, that’s all. pic.twitter.com/aKxgpSJCOr
Riley’s 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 50-32
Well, a +18 guess differential isn’t the worst result in the world if you ask me. People have long said that the mark of any truly successful team isn’t breaking .500, but instead getting to 50. I’m comfortable in the knowledge that I’d be a slightly above-average Eastern Conference team.
There’s not much left to be said than to enjoy the rest of the playoff ride. It’s been a hell of a journey getting here, and now we get to ride the emotional highs and lows that comes with such high-stakes basketball. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this!