In many ways this coming series against the Orlando Magic feels like fate working her deft touch. The apprentice (Jon Horst) meets the master (John Hammond) in a clash that will likely prove the latter’s downfall. This team, as currently constructed, still bears many of the marks of Hammond’s handiwork. Without the acquisitions of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton — both by something of chance, it’s true — the Bucks wouldn't find themselves coming off another excellent season.
So there is something of a dramatic undercurrent to a series that should be over relatively quickly. Milwaukee doesn’t have a lot to brag about after a wishy-washy start to the Bubble, but recent 2019-2020 history would suggest they’ll be able to clear a Magic-sized hurdle. Consider:
- Milwaukee won all four games played between them and the Magic this year (by no fewer than 9 points in each game)
- Orlando is a top-10 defense (109.5 DRTG), but lost interior blocking dynamo Jonathan Isaac to a torn ACL during Bubble play
- The Magic’s 108.5 ORTG is good for 23rd in the league, and they move slowly with a 25th-fastest pace (98.6)
- Orlando doesn’t take a lot of threes (32.2 3PA during the regular season v. 34.3 3PA inside The Bubble)
- Giannis averaged the following in three games against Orlando: 26.3 pts (.509/.333/.645), 15.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 4.7 turnovers, +17.9 net rating, 37.7% AST%, .575 TS%
- Khris averaged the following in four games against Orlando: 19.5 points (.508/.370/1.000), 8.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 3.0 turnovers, +8.3 net rating, .624 TS%
If anything, we can view this series against Orlando as the perfect opportunity for Milwaukee to refine that which they’ve struggled with most since the return to play. That slow pace imposed by the Magic should give the Bucks possessions to calculate their way through the full shot-clock in deliberate fashion. The turnovers will have to improve because the Magic are adept at forcing steals (top-8 in the NBA) while doing a great job holding onto the ball when they have it (fourth-lowest TOV% league-wide). Man for man, the Bucks should be able to out-talent the Magic via starter play alone, which gives the so-far lackluster likes of George Hill, Donte DiVincenzo, Robin Lopez, and Marvin Williams time to round into form without overwhelming pressure.
Even a roll-over should provide a useful canvas for Milwaukee to utilize. That, or they drop the three noon start time games and face a 1-3 start to the Bubble playoffs. Feels like it could go either way with this team sometimes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo frustrated by Milwaukee Bucks’ 3-5 showing in seeding play (ESPN)
The above article title is provocative, but you should see some of the waves this bad boy made on the Twitterverse when the second- and third-tier sports sites got their hands on it.
No, there aren’t any inflammatory quotes about Giannis being so sick and tired of all the goddanged losing that he wants to bolt Milwaukee’s Bubble Bucks. In the main, frustration struck having to sit out the final game against Memphis without a chance to help the team win. In other words, Giannis was frustrated for completely Giannis reasons: Not being able to notch another W in a game with the lowest possible stakes possible.
On Neutral Courts, N.B.A. Bubble ‘Home’ Teams Still Have an Edge (New York Times)
This is a really interesting look inside what it is that the NBA is doing to try and give “home” teams a veneer of their actual court in lieu of... well, you know, their actual courts.
More interesting is the fact that the maestro behind all the graphics, music, and reaction audio, Johnny Watson, is the Bucks’ executive producer of arena and event presentation. How it is that the Bucks were able to get their guy into the Bubble is probably something of a story, but all that matters now is that he seriously reduce the “home court advantage” for whoever Milwaukee faces as the playoffs deepen.
Bucks, Lakers lead way into unprecedented NBA playoffs (Yahoo Sports)
For all the crap I gave the league for doing this whole Bubble thing at all during a pandemic, I must admit that they’ve made the best of a bad hand. The games have been exciting (if rusty) and some of the first-round matchups will be a joy to watch. You’ve got OKC-Houston in another instance of fate, we’ll see if walking-supernova Damian Lillard can offset Portland’s non-existence defense against the Lakers, Boston-Philly is East Coast basketball’s grudge match, the Clippers might have their hands full against Doncic and Dallas, etc. etc. etc.
Makes you almost not mind the three noon games. Almost.
The Social Media Section
Some might say the juiciest
Ish Smith has my favorite analysis of the Giannis ejection: "Giannis brings the juice. Moe brings the juice. It’s basketball. They love their money, so I don’t think neither one of them is gonna throw their hands. A little rah-rah."— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) August 12, 2020
Sterling Brown on what Giannis deals with on a nightly basis: “There’s a lot of dirty, cheap shots coming his way every game....the refs have got to do a better job cleaning it up.”— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) August 12, 2020
Let’s win a goshdang championship for Liam
S/O the Hill family
View this post on Instagram
To My Beautiful Wife, today marks our 2nd year anniversary of us saying I Do. August 11, 2018 was one of the best days of my life. I know with my job right now it’s not the best ideal way to celebrate our magical day but I’m there with you in spirit and when this is all said and done we will celebrate together. Thank you for being there for me through thick and thin. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for the both of us. Love ya mi amor let’s enjoy the day as best as we can. Happy Anniversary My Love @sam_hill3 Once again I want to thank everyone that was involved in making this day something to remember love all
Drip drip drip
I demand a re-vote immediately
Giannis being second-team all-Bubble is perfectly reasonable. A little surprised Brook Lopez didn't get any votes (in fact, no other Bucks did) for the all-Bubble teams.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) August 15, 2020
But this is all-Bubble we're talking about. Not worth stressing over.
The beauty of media-award democracies is you can vote however you want
This is unacceptable.— Joey Linn (@joeylinn_) August 11, 2020
Ramona Shelburne just got on TV and admitted she ignored Giannis leading LeBron in almost every stat, and voted LeBron for MVP because she’s “more of a narrative based voter.”
She should not have a say in any NBA award ever again.
An interesting listen for all those fascinated by Bucks/NBA uni history (esp. during the 90s) like friend of the MMMR Teutonia World
Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy @Bucks pic.twitter.com/EkqunSUjdI— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) August 12, 2020
What Kyle did here is called “calming the waters”
Quote of the night from Kyle Korver in response to @eric_nehm: pic.twitter.com/OkTX1L7FT2— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) August 11, 2020
August 14, 2020
He still cares about us, guys
My 2020 CV19 @NBA Playoffs First Round Winner Picks— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) August 15, 2020
Note: An LAL v LAC clippers WCF would be amazing!
Second Note: I hope Milwaukee wins it all! #FearTheDeer
After the couple weeks Dame had, I dearly hope this story is true
7 months ago, Dame looked me dead in my face and said “what you about to see me do, you ain’t never seen in your life, we making these playoffs. “ If that ain’t some legend talk then idk what is. ♂️— Nassir Little (@2ez_nassie) August 15, 2020
Riley’s 2020 NBA BUBBLE Prediction Record: 5-6
retiredjanitor’s 2020 NBA BUBBLE Prediction Record: 5-6
I actually laughed out loud when I went back to last week’s MMMR to recall what I guessed the record would be and hit the nail almost exactly on the head. The writing was on the wall and even I couldn’t blow a freebie like that.
Guessing how the results will go from here on out is an exercise in wondering whether the Bucks will show up and care. If they do, it should be a trio of massacres this week. If they don’t we could be in for some weird Bubble bumpy ride (though the talent differential should still work in our favor). To me, the most important thing is to win and have 2-3 bench players consistently not suck during the series. I’m a simple man.
We’ll see how Milwaukee does as games start Tuesday with a noon tip, continue Thursday with a reasonable 5 PM (Central) start time, and finish the week Saturday with a 12:30 PM appointment.
Somehow, someway the playoffs are here. We aren’t going in under the best of circumstances nor have we played our best ball. It can only go up from here.