You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but with the Bucks up 3-0 on the Detroit Pistons heading into game four tonight, it feels like this series is all but over. While no playoff opponent is a rollover, the Pistons appear to be outmatched in almost every category and without many personnel options available to try and turn the tide.
That means Milwaukee is but 48 minutes away from advancing to the second-round of the East playoffs in nearly two decades. Yet somehow that accomplishment feels minuscule in comparison with the radically heightened expectations this Bucks team has earned itself. So far, through four games, they’ve proven more than up to the task of reaching their apex.
Get through Detroit tonight and you’ll grant yourself a shot at revenge with the Boston Celtics waiting on the horizon. If you thought a thorough decimation in the first-round was enjoyable, just wait until Milwaukee has the East’s golden boys by the throat midway through game three in front of a stunned Boston crowd.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Thinking Like the MVP (The Atlantic)
I think the last time a Buck was featured in an Atlantic article was... uh, maybe in the 70s? Either way, it isn’t often that Milwaukee makes its way into the publication’s (digital) pages, and probably even less common for the Bucks to make an appearance.
There’s not much in the way of groundbreaking narrative here, but still notable that the Giannis crossover is rapidly pushing beyond the ESPNs and Sports Illustrateds of the world.
Giannis Is Ready for Liftoff (The Ringer)
Be warned: This one is quite lengthy and definitely finds itself wandering off on random tangents, even if the main theme is one we heartily approve of.
Any ode to Giannis, even ones lost in a haze of adjectives, is worth sharing.
Giannis, Bucks Using Pace-and-Space Blueprint to Demolish the Pistons (Sports Illustrated) & The Bucks are too focused to let the Pistons have a chance (ESPN)
What has maybe been the most notable part of this first-round series isn’t the crushing victories, but rather just how little Milwaukee has had to change their gameplan from the regular season.
A mindset of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” pushed the Bucks to a 60-win season and is on the cusp of helping advance the team to the playoffs. Remarkably, I’m not sure if there will need to be much in the way of changes when approaching the likes of the Celtics and whoever awaits in future rounds: No team has truly developed an effective counter to what Milwaukee does beyond pray the Bucks have an off night.
Much digital ink has been spilled in praise of Brook Lopez and his importance in helping the Bucks click, but I’m not sure we’ve gotten a piece like this which puts together the timeline of Brook Lopez’s transformation from paint bruiser to sharpshooter.
Oddly enough, Lopez became a proficient shooter when he was a kid playing against his older brothers. Unable to keep up close to the basket against larger competition, Brook honed his jumper as a reliable weapon. Since, he’s gone back and forth from traditional center to anything but, and the timing of his blossoming into a true shooter couldn’t have been more convenient for the Bucks.
Playoff Bledsoe Looks Good (Bucks.com)
Worried about Eric Bledsoe heading into another post-season run? Don’t be embarrassed, I think there was always room for even an inkling of doubt. He’s gone ahead and blown away expectations just for good measure; for example, here are his per 36 numbers this round v. last year’s matchup against Boston:
2018 - 15.2 points (.440/.318/.700), 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.4 turnovers
2019 - 26.5 points (.511/.313/.800), 6.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2.2 turnovers
That’s... an unbelievable improvement across the board (sans 3P%). Whereas a year ago a couple of off nights on both ends for Bledsoe sunk the Bucks, he’s thus far been a paragon of high-production consistency in a way that grants teammates enormous room to contribute within Mike Budenholzer’s system. Eric is only averaging 27.7 minutes a game so far this series, so just how far he can push his statistical output is a welcome question mark.
The Social Media Section
I’m so glad to see Bango bounce back from his tough times in the early aughts
The latest in “things that make you go ‘hmmmm’”
This sounds like the plot to a really middling direct-to-VHS film
Giannis, Rodgers, and Yelich can’t all be in the same building. There has to be a contingency plan where one of them is held in a secure location in case of an attack from Chicago.— Metta World Pete (@ElPedroBlanco) April 18, 2019
You either know that the Milwaukee Bucks have the real Death Lineup or you’re wrong
I wanted to see the best lineups from the weekend that played at least 10 minutes. It’s just ten minutes. You can only do so much damage in ten minutes, and it’s big enough to not be skewed by like, A shot.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 15, 2019
BUT HOLY MOTHERFORKING SHIRTBALLS pic.twitter.com/yXXMKahJ9K
Fitting that this was tweeted at roughly the same time that news was spreading of Notre Dame’s burning. Poetic in a way
The once stately Bradley Center has been reduced to this. Absolutely sinful. And all under the guise of progress. pic.twitter.com/2JD12Fce23— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) April 15, 2019
...I don’t think juice belongs in the oven, even if it isn’t on
A collection of “game X” posts from the players
“Ayo Jose, yeah yeah yeah no, we could definitely use some more veteran leadership for this Finals push”
Not much to be said here besides my imploring you to stoke the dislike I know lies latent in all of your hearts for everything Boston. They’re a menace to the NBA, a team composed of players who dislike each other more than they do any other team, and the definition of a house of cards waiting for one solid “Giannis dunk on Aron Baynes” to send them toppling down.