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Filling Up Fast: The Suddenly-Crowded Milwaukee Bucks Bandwagon

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The Bucks lead the Celtics 3-1 in their second round series, and people are going to flock to join the hype train.

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks lost their first game of the season to the Boston Celtics, way back in November. They had won seven in a row to start the year, and while the Celtics had a lackluster start to the season, there was some worry about how well Boston could neutralize Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Boston Celtics did a wonderful job at forming a wall in the paint and limiting Giannis’ ability to drive and kick it to shooters. C’s big man Al Horford is the “Giannis stopper.” Horford has done an excellent job at defending Giannis without fouling and that trend continued tonight. Is Horford his kryptonite?

Then, throughout the rest of the regular season, the Bucks maintained their factual superiority over every other team in the league, winning the most games and winning by big margins, regardless of the competition. They breezed through their first round opponent, but lost their first game of the postseason to the Boston Celtics, the same Boston Celtics that delivered the Bucks’ first blemish six months prior.

The very first thing that needs to be recognized is that Boston came to play, played hard, executed their system well, and earned the Game 1 win. They did everything right, Brad Stevens managed the game well, and Boston deserves a ton of credit for it. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford were particularly crucial to the Celtics’ efforts, and there’s no indication that they aren’t up for repeat performances across this second round series. Sunday was everything that the pro-Boston crowd has been talking about, in terms of how the Celtics play their game.

Just like in the regular season, the Bucks proceeded to move past their loss to Boston like the defeat was a singular event, and not an indictment of everything the team had done up until that point. They stayed true to themselves (with a few adjustments here and there), stuck to their game, and blitzed Boston into a 3-1 series deficit. The hole the Celtics find themselves in may be impossible to climb out of, but it’s not over until it’s over.

But once it is over, and the Bucks return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001? Make sure you squeeze in and take your feet off of the seat in front of you, because this bandwagon is gonna get crowded.

TNT didn’t linger on Charles Barkley’s prediction (possibly because Golden State and Houston were about to tip off), but he won’t be the only one. In a world where everyone was ready to anoint the Boston Celtics – a team that does have a ton of talent and does have a proven star and did have the potential to contend in an Eastern Conference devoid of LeBron James for the first time in years – as the Next Big Thing...they suddenly look like the league’s next source of offseason drama.

Meanwhile, Bucks fans need to prepare for the bandwagon to fill up beyond capacity. Don’t bother calling the fire marshal; they’re sitting in the third row. Yes, the team that had a historically-high net rating and won 60 games and held home court advantage throughout the playoffs by a comfortable margin is a contender – maybe even a favorite! – to make it to the NBA Finals.

Some of you have been here for a while. Some of you have been here since the beginning, or before the beginning, or before there even was the idea of a beginning. Some of you may have jumped onto the hype train so early that you earned the title “conductor.” You’ll probably feel some measure of pride for having stuck it out for so long, and even some measure of resentment towards newcomers.

That’s okay. That’s human! After all, these nonbelievers, these heretics, they don’t really understand how monumental this is for the Milwaukee Bucks. They may shout out “Bucks in six!” but they weren’t there, man! They didn’t try to convince themselves it was a real thing. They didn’t try and justify trading Tobias Harris for a rental of JJ Redick, or trading Ray Allen for a rental of Gary Payton, or trading away Marques Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or any number of others. They’re not real fans!

Except...they are. We all are! Some of us are diehards, some of us are borderline obsessive, but all of us are here, all of us are here now. And the Milwaukee Bucks, these Milwaukee Bucks, are in position to earn themselves a place in the basketball history books. They might succeed. They might fail. This might be the sprouting of a dynasty, or the one true shot at a trophy before the window is cruelly slammed shut.

No matter what, we’re all in this, new fans and old. The more, the merrier. It’s going to be fun.