Long-time fans of the Bucks had come to expect a few things from the team in the playoffs: Their bench would give them roughly 2 or 3 points per game while the opponent’s 13th man went off and averaged 18 points on .657/.890/1.000 shooting splits with 10 rebounds and 8 assists to go with it. In short, our Other Guys were almost zeroes, their Other Guys were heroes.
Or at least that’s how the story used to go. Things began to noticeably shift last year, though, first with the legendary Bryn Forbes series against the Miami Heat, followed by PJ Tucker’s valiant defensive stand against the Nets, and Pat Connaughton making a case for himself as the glue guy holding the rotation together against the Suns. When Giannis went down against the Hawks, everyone else needed to pick their game up accordingly. Our opponents did get a decent game or three from their marginal players, but Milwaukee’s subs generally stood taller.
Through four games against the Chicago Bulls, we can safely say that we’re continuing to get the best out of the back end of our playoff rotation. Exhibit A:
Grayson Allen, who was demoted to the bench with ~10 games left in the regular season, could’ve easily drifted into irrelevance. Instead, when minutes came and the guard/wing rotation got tight with the loss of Khris Middleton, he’s come on and performed significantly above expectations on both ends of the floor. Offensively the three ball is falling at frightening rates and his willingness to drive gives the team a different look. Defensively, he’ll still struggle to keep up in P&R coverage, but he’s making up for it with crafty steals that knock Chicago off rhythm.
Then there’s Bobby Portis. Oh Bobby, light of our lives. Understandably moved to the bench with the return of Brook Lopez, he was quickly drafted back to big minutes starting in game three and has utterly delivered. I adored the energy he brought on both ends of the floor to start that game, showing zero hesitation getting shots up and literally full-court shadowing ball-handlers to ensure Chicago had no simple offensive setup. With the departure of PJ Tucker, one wondered whether the roster had enough “want to” left to push themselves against terrifying odds; so far, Bobby Portis has provided enough “want to” for the entire team and then some. He should get all the kudos in the world for having such tight mental focus.
Milwaukee needs one more win to move on to the next round, and they have looked like absolute worldbeaters these past two games after loafing around in games one and two. A lot of that change stems from an apparently newfound intensity from the entire roster, but credit should be properly given to the Other Guys. Long live them and their streak of success.
OK, fine: If the Bulls aren’t going to pick a fight with Milwaukee, I will (Chicago Sun Times)
This old school intercity media beef like they used to make it. The schlocky stuff on the front end of the article is purposefully (and entertainingly, in my opinion) over the top, and it gives way to the desire from one fan for there to be real rivalry between these teams. Ultimately, rivalries have sort of been snuffed out of the modern NBA for a number of reasons. Bulls fans running with the Caruso thing for so long was overdoing it, but at least it gave us something to volley back and forth between each other.
How the Milwaukee Bucks scrapped a contender, refused to rebuild ... then somehow turned out great (Secret Base - YouTube)
If you’ve ever wanted a quick 20ish minute summary of the last two decades of Bucks basketball, well... you’re oddly in luck this week.
Can the Milwaukee Bucks replace Khris Middleton’s production? (Basketball News)
Short-term answer: Emphatic yes. Middle-term answer: Your guess is as good as mine. Critical as Khris is to the success of the squad, we have seen an uptick in perimeter motion of the ball offensively with him out due to injury. If he can come back and slot into a more defined role than “pseudo playmaker”, we’ll be cooking with gas. Until then, Jrue, Giannis, and the super subs gotta keep at it.
This is actually a fairer question to ask than I initially gave it credit for. Phoenix seems the stronger team top-to-bottom, and I can’t get a good read on how strong the Western Conference is compared to the East. For us, Khris is the one leg of the Big Three tripod we could lose and feasibly keep moving without, but the Celtics continue to look like they’re very much at the top of their game. Both teams should get their injured stars back sometime in the second round, so it’ll be a matter of treading water until then.
I want nothing more in this world than to win another title in such a way that allows us to have a full parade through the city on a Saturday. The whole atmosphere around the city and arena seemed like such a delight last year, and the one thing that could make it even better would be whatever psychotic turnout we could get for a parade on a nice Milwaukee summer day.
Massive shoutout to all the staff who help make the Forum run on game days. I’ve had great experiences both as a fan and working as media, and it looks like a massive effort to make it a smooth ride.
Fan Post of the Week
All quiet on the FPOTW front. Everyone was too busy lamenting the fact that we looked horrific to start the series and are now nursing hangovers celebrating just how good we’ve looked these past two games. In that sense, everyone won the FPOTW award today.
Know Your Enemy
- Chicago Bulls - Blog A Bull - Bulls vs. Bucks Game 4 final score: death by Giannis (and Grayson)
Not much for Bulls fans to say. DeMar DeRozan has gotten smothered from the jump since the start of game three and there just isn’t enough there there on the rest of the roster to compensate. Doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance to surprise again, but Milwaukee looks like they’ve got the formula down pat.
The Social Media Section
Bobby Bifocals is a GOAT nickname
Uh... sure. Did Bobby insult a family member or something?
Bobby Portis getting great revenge on the Bulls for offering him the overly lucrative $15m a year extension he decided to reject.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) April 24, 2022
lmao bobby portis giving the chicago crowd the ring finger pic.twitter.com/o5Jztyfw4y— buckets (@buckets) April 24, 2022
Game-breaking speed off the line
This is why you study film. Read her like a bookpic.twitter.com/Yhy61j1ipO— Kendall Baker (@kendallbaker) April 24, 2022
Marques a troll for this one
“Siri, what’s the definition of ‘abomination’?”
The Jazz are changing their colors to black, white, and yellow next season. Not sure about the fate of the City Edition uniforms they are wearing tonight. This is what has leaked so far re next season's new look. pic.twitter.com/Sy2NPRXkBt— Craig Miller (@junior_miller) April 22, 2022
ESPN may never get an exclusive with Giannis ever again. Live by the Clickz, die by the Clickz.
Giannis still does not eff with Malika. Didn’t look at her once— Robert (@mkerobert) April 24, 2022
He spoke it into existence
Found the perfect spot to catch the game today pic.twitter.com/bVU0qjuSnT— Dr. James Takesmith (@kidziggurat) April 24, 2022
The Shaq-Giannis relationship remains rock solid
Shaq on Giannis from The Pivot Podcast pic.twitter.com/UTUVJtb4NN— Bango Burner (@BangoBurner_) April 20, 2022
The scrawniest magician I’ve seen in a very long time
We’ve got at least one game this week at home on Wednesday for G5 of the series. Should they be needed, G6 would happen on Friday in Chicago and G7 would be back in Milwaukee on Sunday. Things are sort of in flux as to when we would start the next series as that depends on 1) Our getting there and 2) Who survives the Celtics-Nets series (although Boston are obviously quite heavy favorites). I’d assume we might kick that second round series off at the start of next week at the earliest.
Still, have to get over this hurdle first.