Turns out it is harder to make history than we guessed. Fresh off a back-against-the-wall Game 4 victory arrived at with Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined by an ankle injury, it felt like a tiny murmur of hope had trickled back into our minds. Even without Giannis for Game 5, maybe Budenholzer would restrict those rotations, maybe the non-Khris starters could step up while Middleton dealt with the brunt of Miami’s defensive focus, and maybe (just maybe) they could eke out a win. After that all the pressure would mount on the Heat, Giannis would return to reassert his position as best player on the court, and it’d be a short ride to a full reversal of the 3-0 hole. An ECF against Boston and, thereby, a Finals appearance were just on the horizon.
Can you blame us for the exuberance? We’re Bucks fans and therefore people used to the grinding punishment of pinning our hopes on this team. The final fall — when it came — was just another tiny cut among thousands built up over the years.
What we’re left with is pretty much utter disaster. This team accomplished significant things during the regular season and should be proud of that, but the decreasing importance of that stretch of play means real accolades are garnered ever more in the post-season. For Milwaukee, going down in a complete defeat at the hands of any team in the second round is a nightmare that cuts deep at the organization’s credibility.
The body wasn’t even close to being lukewarm before the blame game began in full among the fanbase. When things go as sideways as they did over the course of a week pretty much everyone gets a dollop of blame:
-Giannis wasn’t good enough breaking the wall, didn’t finish at the rate we’d come to expect, and looked lost on defense
-Mike Budenholzer kept to his coaching instincts far longer than advised and only made adjustments when the season was essentially over
-Eric Bledsoe forgot to show up for a series a third post-season in a row
-Khris was good to great at times, but is still probably not the true number two (in a traditional sense) to seamlessly offset Giannis’s weaknesses
-Every other player was content with laying goose eggs or weren’t consistent enough across games to be truly relied upon as a force multiplier
-Jon Horst helped build this roster and so inevitably fault for its shortcomings (exacerbated or otherwise by Budenholzer notwithstanding)
You can run down the whole roster and deliver an indictment of almost every individual. The only guys who avoid a real thrashing are Wes Matthews, Khris Middleton, and the DNP-CD crew for not screwing up the act of simply existing. For a team with championship ambitions, that’s a less than ideal showing from the meat of your roster.
How will the Bucks build back from the debacle of the Bubble? So far it seems like they’re keen on rocking the boat radically just yet. Mike Budenholzer seems safe in his role as HC which removes a massive offseason variable. The next big variable is whether Giannis signs some form of extension when free agency opens or opts to play out his contract. Depending on how that shakes out it then falls back on the front office to re-tool one of the oldest teams in the league.
Another lost year just ups the pressure, though. The rumors about Antetokounmpo’s future will get hotter by the month without a concrete resolution and every transaction — marginal or otherwise — will fall under immense scrutiny. And that’s okay: This is sports we’re talking about, and we’re ostensibly here to win championships. I’m not sure what the answers are, but I know running it back again isn’t it. Odds are the Bucks know that too. Let’s see what they do with that knowledge.
Sources: Giannis Antetokounmpo meets with Bucks ownership to discuss future (Yahoo) & Antetokounmpo meets with Bucks co-owner to discuss team’s future (Sports Illustrated)
Round and round the rumor mill goes, where it will send Giannis Antetokounmpo, nobody knows! Well, except for Marc Lasry if the limited non-information we have to go off of is at all accurate.
Giannis paid the bosses a visit to recap the season just concluded and to discuss how the team plans on pushing forward past their playoff drubbing. According to Sam Amico who quotes Brandon Robinson of Heavy.com, Giannis expressed a desire that the team be “untraditional” in its approach to mending the team. By “untraditional” we can only assume he meant bringing back Jason Kidd for another try at it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo free agency power rankings: Where will Bucks’ reigning MVP sign in 2021? (CBS Sports) & Giannis Antetokounmpo Rumors: Warriors, Clippers, Raptors, Heat, Mavs Linked (Bleacher Report)
If you thought the vulture-like behavior of some teams this past season was reprehensible and borderline psychotic, believe me when I say you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Right now the list of “possible” destinations is five teams long. By the start of next season — pending Giannis’ supermax decision — we’re bound to see the likes of the Hornets, Cavaliers, and Magic throw their hats into the ring. And if you think the case for teams of that ilk to jump into the lottery, let Sam Quinn at CBS Sports spell out the thought process for you in his surprisingly-deep Giannis FA destination power rankings.
Doom and Gloom Post-Mortems
This will be easier if I just try to corral the autopsies all in one place. There is a lot more out than these four, but they cover some pretty substantial ground. Anyways, most of the worries have been raised by others here on the site, but its worth going through them to get a vibe for how the rest of the “nation” is thinking about the Bucks right now.
The Social Media Section
“I know history will look upon me kindly, for I will be the one writing it” - George Karl
Let us all one day get the opportunity to rewrite our own personal history! pic.twitter.com/dgrTXDdhHM— Adam McGee (@AdamMcGee11) September 13, 2020
That’s alternate-universe Milwaukee Buck Kevin Porter Jr. to you
Well-earned relaxation for Brook, I guess
The highlight of my weekend will undoubtedly be seeing Brook Lopez at Epcot. It’s all downhill from here. pic.twitter.com/Oru1Ppv9Td— Theme Park Alex (@themeparkalex) September 11, 2020
...maybe Magic should be the GM?
My advice for @Giannis_An34 is to sit down one-on-one with Milwaukee Bucks Owner Wes Edens and figure out his strategy to make the team better and bring a championship to Milwaukee.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 9, 2020
And sorry for wasting the end of your career, Marvin
Marvin Williams retirement story: https://t.co/WWpRp0EY5h— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 9, 2020
A quick shoutout to long-time fellow Bucks blogger Adam McGee as he wraps up his time at the head of Behind the Buck Pass. Wishing you immense luck and success on all your endeavors, Adam!
Some news: After six seasons as site expert at Behind the Buck Pass, and seven years since I first started writing about the NBA more generally, I'm finishing up at the end of this month.— Adam McGee (@AdamMcGee11) September 9, 2020
It's a decision that's been coming for a while, but now is absolutely the right time.
When social media tweets don’t age well, they really don’t age well
Check out is at noon https://t.co/aYY0nDTWQP— Aye throw that Boyz II Men on (@DragonflyJonez) September 9, 2020
With the season over you’d normally expect the MMMR to recede into irrelevance as stories about the Bucks dry up. Thankfully I’m a glutton for punishment and enjoy the challenge of digging up stories about Ersan Ilyasova eating fajitas on a porch in Manitowoc, so this column won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
I’d like to thank each and every one of you who has clicked on/read/commented/tolerated the MMMR this past season. We tried some new additions (‘Fanpost of the Week’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’, for example), all laughed together as I flailed desperately to guess game results at random, and generally got to enjoy a curation of media pieces from the serious to the wacky as this Milwaukee Bucks team navigated another raucous campaign.
Anyways, thanks again for stopping by each week. We’ll be back here seven days from now as we continue with your regularly scheduled programming.