This hurts, plain and simple. The Milwaukee Bucks were two wins away from making an appearance in the NBA Finals. So much will be talked about what happened when the team picked the worst time to have its worst losing streak of the season. I’ve gone through all the emotions while writing this and I don’t think there is a singular word that can be used. As I sit here and try and reflect on the season, it’s odd to say the least. If you had told me back in October that Milwaukee would be in the Eastern Conference Finals, I would have been over the moon. I was expecting Milwaukee to make the Eastern Conference finals, but it would have been a rock fight with a meeting against Boston. Well Milwaukee did face Boston, but it wasn’t a rock fight and more of a boulder being chucked at a leprechaun. But how do we look at this past season now, in retrospect?
Let’s start with the negatives and get it out of the way. The Bucks lost four games in a row and blew double digit leads in games 5 and 6 along with failing to steal game 3 in Toronto. The fears of Budenholzer were justified with some of his rotation choices in the Toronto series. The team couldn’t hit shots and their halfcourt offense was putrid. Giannis struggled in this series, Eric Bledsoe had another playoff series he could forget and Khris Middleton was frustratingly inconsistent. Your midseason acquisition played himself off the floor. You had high contract players like Ersan and Tony Snell on the bench and your first round pick was injured pretty frequently as well.
Now that the issues are aired out, those that have decided to stay and continue to read this, time for positives. Giannis was the MVP this season, which is great to see considering where he was as a skinny teenager in 2014. He might win Defensive Player of the Year as well. Mike Budenholzer is favored to win Coach of the Year plus Giannis and Eric Bledsoe made 1st team all defense to give Milwaukee its first teammate selection since Sidney Moncrief and Paul Pressey back in 1985 and 1986. The Brook Lopez signing was a masterstroke that really unlocked this Milwaukee offense. Speaking of that signing, we should give massive kudos to Jon Horst. The roster he inherited was a mess of bad contracts and ill-fitting players. While there were some missteps with the job Horst has done the past two years, they have put Milwaukee in a better position now than when he took the job that summer of 2017. The Bucks won a playoff series for the first time in 18 years and thankfully, it doesn’t look like we will have to wait another 18 years for another win.
Milwaukee brought NBA basketball to the entire state of Wisconsin. For almost 30 years, the Bucks were primarily a team a niche squad of people around Milwaukee cared about. Some people outside of the city obviously cared, but when you mention the Bucks, people had confused looks on their face or assumed you were talking about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now the Bucks are a Wisconsin team and a talking point in the positive side. Kids from Racine, to Rhinelander, to Madison, to Chippewa falls are wearing Giannis jerseys. Fiserv Forum is a beautiful arena that truly brings so much to the Milwaukee area and will be the home for the Bucks for decades and potentially generations of fans. The team is in a good spot and now need to find the changes to take that next step to not only being in the NBA Finals, but winning it.
Lastly, I personally want to send each and everyone of you a thank you for not only reading this, but being involved with anything we at Brew Hoop have put out this past season. For me, when the season started, I was laid off from my job and more depressed than I have ever been, my mental health was a complete mess while I was job searching again. The Bucks were an amazing escape for me for a few hours even when people would troll and complain, it still was better than the reality I was in. Thankfully, I was able to find a new job and share my excitement with my coworkers just like I do for all of you and I want to thank you for helping me through that. Whether you read an article, shared it on your respective social media, listened to our podcast, commented in our game threads or recaps or watched me chug kool-aid on a periscope thank you! We always strive to bring you all the best content possible and that’s why we do this on this site. The season left a bitter taste and will certainly leave us wondering “what if?” for some time. But the season also showed just how special this team is and how wanting more is better than wading through mediocrity. Basketball never sleeps, so we will be ready to go with the offseason and the next season, but I figured this would be a nice bow to try and wrap on the season as a whole. The hype train didn’t reach its destination as intended, but everyone that was on it made it a special ride.