It more or less comes down to Tuesday night.
Technically, that is a lie, but with the way things are lining up, the storybook ending that existed mostly in our minds is tantalizingly close to becoming a reality. Having gone down 0-2 in somewhat frustrating manner, the Bucks have now rattled off three consecutive wins, the latest pair involving the kinds of iconic plays that will immortalize this team. The Block. The Steal. The Oop. All in the span of two of the most consequential games you can play in professional sports.
So here we stand, on the precipice of the greatest success this franchise and this city will have experienced in nearly five decades. The Bucks need to close it out with the wind in their sails, a rabid crowd backing them to the hilt, and the knowledge that they’re able to find ways to win against any number of obstacles.
While we wait for the series to conclude this week, I want to take a moment to also acknowledge just how meaningful this is for us, the fans. Whether you’re part of the first generation of fans or only joined up in the recent past, you’ve all had a hand in making this team what it is. We’re not out on the court, but it is passion and passion alone that makes following professional sports team a worthwhile endeavor.
Take a look at any game this playoff run — and especially during this Finals stint — and feel awe at the size of the crowds the Milwaukee Bucks are drawing. Never in the deepest darkest days of the 90s or mid-aughts would something as stupendous as this seem remotely possible. And yet the Bucks are bringing a disparate city together to celebrate not only their success, but also to celebrate all those years borne by individuals who pour their hopes and fears into this collective effort.
It is cliche to say that such and such team have the best fans in the world. I’m not sure if we have the best fans in the world, but we are certainly some of the world’s most deserving fans. The universe finds ways to reward the righteous; now it’s our chance.
Time to go win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the perfect answer for how he keeps his ego in check (SB Nation)
The title of philosopher king or warrior poet may be something consigned to history’s myths and legends, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a reasonable facsimile for our own time. It is impressive for Giannis to tackle a question as large as “what taught you to master your ego” in the first place — doubly so when you consider he's grasping after it in his second language in front of the world’s media. Nothing but respect for him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Seizing His NBA Finals Moment (Sports Illustrated) & Giannis’s LeBron-Like Block Stole All The Momentum (FiveThirtyEight)
And to top it all off, he’s out there performing at the highest level in ways that never before seemed possible in the playoffs. This is by far the best basketball of his entire career, and it couldn’t be coming together at a better time for a better person.
The Bucks Dared to Dream. Now They’ve Almost Realized the Biggest One. (The Ringer)
When you have a talent the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo on your roster, you’ve no choice but to just keep hammering away hoping that one day, it’ll work out. GM Jon Horst did not rest on his laurels after two straight playoff flame-outs, threw all caution to the wind, and shipped off draft capital galore to bring in Jrue Holiday. That upgrade made its impact felt with The Steal and The Oop, but it goes much deeper. Years of competition will hone you to a fine point, and then you’ve got to go out and use your experience to topple all comers. Well, looks like we’re dangerously close to doing just that once and for all.
Bucks paid a steep price to get Jrue Holiday — and it has been worth it (NBC Sports) & Jrue Holiday’s two-way masterpiece lifts Bucks to championship precipice (NBA.com)
This wouldn’t be a proper roundup if we didn’t give Jrue his due. The struggle in game four was real. Then he broke through. It’s the latter that matters most.
Khris Middleton Has Solidified Star Status During NBA Finals vs. Phoenix Suns (Bleacher Report)
How about some love for Khris, too? 40 points in game four with Jrue struggling to hit a shot, stepped up to try and go toe-to-toe with Devin Booker when Milwaukee couldn’t manufacture a team bucket. When all three stars are on, we’re a nearly impossible out.
Legend continues to grow for Bucks fan favorite Bobby Portis (NBA.com)
I’ve been scared to death of the moments when Bobby gets switched onto Chris Paul or Devin Booker out in no-man’s land, and yet as the Finals have wore on you can see Portis’s discipline and ability grow. No, he isn’t suddenly able to mirror every dribble move thrown his way, but he isn’t getting baited into cheap fouls, and he keeps the pressure on even if having to move laterally at high speed. Happy for him that he’s having his chance on the biggest stage as well.
Fan Post of the Week
The only other option was a post about having this kind of playoff run in a universe where Giannis hadn’t signed his extension, so naveed211 wins the last FPOTW award of the 2021 season with “Middleton Comps”. For my money, Khris has clearly learned a lot about the mid-range from Drew Gooden. Just my 2c.
Know Your Enemy
- Phoenix Suns - Bright Side of the Sun - Many signs still point to Suns winning the NBA title despite being down 3-2
Hope springs eternal, especially when you’re staring down the barrel of the end of the season. However, it is worth noting that the Bucks are by no means out of the woods just yet. The team that had things clicking in games 1 and 2 is stuck somewhere inside those purple jerseys. We’ll see if Monty Williams & Co. can pull that back out with their backs against the wall.
The Social Media Section
Ted Davis brought it for this moment. What a call.
AS CALLED ON BUCKS RADIO: pic.twitter.com/Z8CWBLevw6— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) July 18, 2021
We’ve not actually lost since this interview. It’s true, spiritually.
Crazy how Giannis just woke up one day and took his advice pic.twitter.com/V6skhIIiXX— Jonathan Gauthier (@jgauthier_23) July 12, 2021
Just tweeting out whatever is top of mind I guess
Just thought of an interesting “What if?”— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) July 18, 2021
(Maybe @Marvel inspired me)
Giannis is out for Game 6 due to health and safety protocols. Close contact with Thanasis
Bucks still win…
Does K midd get Finals MVP?
The biggest moment of your career one second, a meme format the next
When my wife asks me to open a jar and I get it on the first turn pic.twitter.com/LTUS6RNST3— David Gardner (@byDavidGardner) July 18, 2021
i can see it pic.twitter.com/8Z1b608DL3— everett byram (@rad_milk) July 18, 2021
The upside for this guy is Kohl’s cash doesn’t ACTUALLY ever expire
The internet remains undefeated. pic.twitter.com/tQNzV8cLBe— Doug Russell (@DougRussell) July 18, 2021
The Bucks of the past are with us
1 More! pic.twitter.com/pIY2TynysZ— bigwillpower (@scottwill42) July 18, 2021
When all three of them boys going like that not much you can do. — John Henson (@Johnhenson31) July 18, 2021
Just two Bucks Legends. pic.twitter.com/2Xhj7z58xK— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 15, 2021
New generation, same feeling
July 15, 2021
Marques Johnson hype man
No matter how it turns out, we ain’t forgot about ya’ young fella’ @Divincenzo— Elder Marques Johnson (@olskool888) July 16, 2021
and what you mean to @Bucks. Helped set the tone at the start of season with attitude of embracing adversity. I know you putting your work in… pic.twitter.com/DLQPHPzRyh
Hero ball, tracked
Game 1: 16— Anchorage Man (@SethPartnow) July 18, 2021
Game 2: 12
Game 3: 5
Game 4: 5
Game 5: 4 https://t.co/ZNGFBkBbhi
Jordan Nwora bringing Finals experience to the Nigerian national team
“They’re sleeping on us… our whole team isn’t even there yet.” -@JordanNwora pic.twitter.com/WN2lYnrGp0— D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) July 18, 2021
Game six is on Tuesday at 8 PM (Central) in Milwaukee. Game seven (if needed (if needed!!!!!)) will be on Thursday in Phoenix.
Find one more in the tank. Just do it and let’s have the craziest week in our sports fandoms’.