SB Nation has launched its “Titleless: Best Teams to Never Win a Championship” tournament and the Milwaukee Bucks will, painfully, have several participants in the bracket. Today, our dose of bitter disappointment comes in the form of the 2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks who ranked 2nd in Mike Prada’s Flame Out region. We’ve convened the staff to reflect and celebrate the rebirth of this franchise under Giannis Antetokounmpo’s lead last season...
What’s your most memorable moment from the 18-19 season?
Kyle: Giannis’ leap into true superstardom and MVP levels. Going into the season it was simply a matter of when not if Giannis was going to get the MVP trophy. With no Kidd or Prunty restricting him, it was always going to be interesting seeing what a competent coach would get out of Giannis.
Gabe: A couple come to mind for me, and they were both away games. The game vs. Philly where the Bucks secured the No. 1 overall seed was a special night. I was at a bar in Bay View and everyone was going nuts as the game went down to the wire. Bledsoe got ejected for flinging the ball at Embiid in the first quarter, but the Bucks still took care of business. The other was when the Bucks completed the sweep vs. the Pistons in the first round, giving them their first playoff series win in 18 years. Even though it was well-expected, it was still a major moment and was awesome to see the city come together and celebrate.
Adam: I’d have to say it was the Giannis Philly 50+ point night. I was fortunate enough to be in the stands that night to rankle the Philly faithful all around me, and the ease with which Giannis was decimating one of the league’s top defenses was just spectacular. Best game I’ve been lucky enough to see by a player in person. Runner-up would be the gentleman’s sweep of Boston; the Bucks bouncing back to completely dismantle Stevens’ squad was a thing of beauty.
Where do they rank on your pantheon of favorite Bucks teams?
Kyle: Probably 3rd. It was fun watching the Bucks be good again, but 2000-01 and the FTD team sparked my passion more.
Gabe: I think I may say first. Being fortunate enough to be Brew Hoop’s ambassador amongst the media throng, the chemistry from those guys was incredible. The locker room was always a blast to be in.
Adam: I’d say it’s second, there was something about the unpredictability but unforeseen possibilities of that 2014-15 squad that made it easy to root for without the baggage of expectations. Last year wasn’t dissimilar in that respect, but once it was clear how quality the 2018-19 squad was, it was tough not to be disappointed by anything less than a championship.
I know it’s impossible to answer...BUT...how do you think they would’ve fared against the Warriors?
Kyle: There were already signs that this team COULD win a series against GSW even with a healthy Durant. Now with a banged up Durant going into the series, Milwaukee would have won in 5 or 6.
Gabe: Ugh, don’t even make me think about it. I think they would’ve been able to handle the Warriors pretty easily. Given the injuries that continued to plague Golden State, I’d say Milwaukee would’ve won in five.
Adam: One can never account for the injuries that befell Golden State in the Finals, but with a beleaguered Kevin Durant, they certainly had a chance. If Klay and Durant both end up out, I can see the Bucks taking them down in six or seven, but I still think Milwaukee would’ve struggled against a fully healthy Klay, Draymond and Curry combo given their backcourt’s shooting ability and Milwaukee’s potential defensive weak points. It would’ve been a fascinating chess match I would’ve liked to have seen, especially from two coaches who I wouldn’t say are renown for shifting from their ingrained philosophies.
What sticks in your craw most from their flame out?
Kyle: In games 3, 5 and 6, Milwaukee was in control and seemed to wilt under pressure and couldn’t do the simple task.
Gabe: It’s simple. Fred VanVleet.
Adam: Giannis getting turned into a mortal being by Kawhi Leonard. Up to that point, no one had successfully been able to keep Giannis grounded game after game, but the final decisive matches of that series, Giannis finally found a foil he couldn’t successfully counter in Kawhi.
As Bucks fans, we’ve seen our fair share of disappointment, where did this one land on a scale of 1-10?
Kyle: 10 even if the KD and Klay injuries happen, this was Milwaukee best shot at a title since the 80s.
Gabe: Yeah, I’m agreeing with Kyle and say it was near a 10. This was as good of a chance Milwaukee ever had to win a title. I wouldn’t put it at the level of heartbreak that I experienced during the 2015 NFC Championship Game or Wisconsin-Kentucky in 2014 (since those were a single-game elimination), but it was pretty close.
Adam: I don’t know that I can say it any better than Gabe. The 2015 NFC Championship and Badgers buckling down the stretch against Duke rule in my mind, but this was a 9 just given the Bucks’ dominance throughout the season and damn near 3-0 lead in the series. Not to mention the fact it likely doomed us to a full year of insufferable chatter about what Giannis will do in free agency.
What are some of your reflections from last year’s team? Do they belong in the flame out division? Let us know in the comments below!