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These Aren’t Last Season’s Milwaukee Bucks

If you think so, this series will be a rough wakeup call

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks finally won their first playoff series since 2001, an insane proposition to consider. They now play a familiar foe in the Boston Celtics, the team that eliminated them last year, for the chance to play whoever survives the Philadelphia 76ers - Toronto Raptors series. The renewed rivalry has brought out the worst (and occasionally the best) of each fanbase with everyone, including myself, throwing predictions around for who will win the series. While it may be a rematch of last year, both teams have a decisively different look this year. Well, unless you are Celtics fans that have lived under a rock the past year and have #BadBucksTakeOfTheWeek out there:

Milwaukee isn’t the same team just by inserting Mike Budenholzer as head coach. Yes, Budenholzer came in and revamped Milwaukee's offense, propelling them to a top-5 ranking this season while the Kidd era brought head scratching, hair-pulling defensive schemes that would make you cuss to the point that you could have invested in Irish Spring soap. Then, in came Bud with a smart zone drop scheme that doesn’t allow corner threes or paint shots at an alarming rate and lo and behold, the Bucks have a top-5 defensive ranking.

Milwaukee’s postseason coaching staff that would have been better suited coaching the Bad News Bears than an NBA Playoff team. Joe Prunty was completely outmatched by Brad Stevens; the only reason the series even made it to seven was the efforts of Giannis and Middleton with Prunty inserting Thon Maker for his switchability. He had poor rotations that hurt the team playing defensive sieves because the other options were not that much better. That said rotation well let’s see how things were last year:

  • Thon Maker was actually Playoff Thon and the starting center.
  • Jabari Parker and Jason Terry played over 20 minutes in a game 7.
  • Those two players were the only bench players to score points in that one.
  • Other bench guys to play were Matthew Dellavedova, Tyler Zeller, Tony Snell, and Shabazz Muhammad.

Out of all of those players, only Tony Snell remains on the team and he might not even be a part of the rotation this series. Those players have been replaced with quality NBA players like George Hill, Ersan Ilyasova, Nikola Mirotic, Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton with Brook Lopez at starting center. On paper, the depth seems at least at the level of Boston’s, and that’s without Malcolm Brogdon returning from his injury, who is at least out for the first two games but is hopefully slated to return during this series.

For the starting lineup, Sterling Brown has improved to become a solid rotational 3-and-D guy and a valuable asset once Brogdon returns. Khris Middleton might not be a human flamethrower this series, but his playmaking is going to help and he should be confident in hunting out more three pointers. Eric Bledsoe is looking for redemption, a reduction of last playoff’s poor plays and continuing this season’s performance that made him an All-Defensive player hopefully up to the tough task of containing Kyrie. Oh ya, and Giannis. They couldn’t stop him last year, and it’s not going to happen this year, particularly if they believe that Semi Ojeleye is the guy that’s up to the task.

Boston is a very talented team who could win the series, there’s no denying that. But it’s also a team people expected to win 60 games and underachieved all regular season. Sure they swept the Indiana Pacers, but how impressive is it truly when Indiana choked away two games and without Victor Oladipo, it’s possible they are worse than the Detroit team Milwaukee just spanked.

If you are claiming that this is the same Bucks team as last year, it tells me a few different things:

  1. You haven’t been following the NBA this season
  2. You’re unrealistic
  3. You’re scared straight

I’ll let Al Horford take it away: