Milwaukee had it’s worst performance of the season in Game 1, full stop. They were outplayed, outcoached, and had their worst (and possibly most embarrassing) loss this season. There were concerns on the rotation and what adjustments would need to happen. People were already writing the team off, and our worst fears were being realized. Horford would shut Giannis down, nobody other than Middleton would be able to hit a shot, Bud was going to confirm his skeptics’ doubts, and the postseason was effectively over before Milwaukee could get things really started.
I, like many other Bucks fans, was frustrated from the team’s Game 1 performance. The part I had to remember was this Bucks team bounced back from losses many times this season and, with their egos damaged, had to bounce back again. Game 2 was looking more like Game 1; open shots weren’t falling. Giannis and Eric Bledsoe couldn’t get any buckets near the rim while Al Horford was still getting pick and pop jumpers to fall. Pat Connaughton was still making boneheaded defensive plays, and Sterling Brown was going to foul out before Biz Markie could perform.
But this time, something changed; it wasn’t going to repeat Game 1 when the wheels feel off and the Bucks looked lost. This time, Milwaukee let Khris Middleton light Fiserv Forum on fire; they let George Hill be the wise playoff veteran and pick his spots; they let Bledsoe (maybe) rediscover himself. Going into halftime up one would have been fine; the Bucks were finding their footing and at the least, they could grind out a victory. Then Hill made a three to take a four-point lead into halftime and the Bucks did what they had been saying they’ve needed for the past few days: they became themselves.
Giannis found a rhythm and got into a zone, becoming a playmaker and rifling passes to shooters. The threes were flying and they were falling, and suddenly a stout defense was beginning to crack. Giannis was back in control after searching for it for six quarters; he was figuring it out he was back to being the f****** MVP and even added a few threes just to let people know. People call these Bucks runs “Warriors-esque,” and it’s true to an extent, but Golden State does it with a barrage of three-pointers from two of the best shooters to ever play the game.
Milwaukee runs are more like losing track of time. You go on your phone to scroll through whichever social media app and all of the sudden, its an hour later. That is more Milwaukee’s style; blink, and you suddenly see a team brimming with confidence leaving their opponent dumbfounded. A tense four-point lead suddenly was over 20 once the run was all said and done, and that’s just what Milwaukee needed.
The Bucks got punched in the mouth and didn’t recover in Game 1. This time they made sure to punch back and it landed. The important thing to remember is that Game 3 will likely not be similar to either Game 1 or Game 2. Milwaukee won’t be as bad as Sunday, and might not hit the high of Tuesday night. Similarly, Boston won’t be the dominating force it was Sunday and won’t suddenly freeze up as we saw the other day. Friday is going to be the true indication of what this series will hold. Both teams have made their adjustments, along with playing near their worst. Now we just have to figure out if staying true to yourself can earn three more wins.