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Missed Out: Ruminating on the Bucks-less NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors bested the Boston Celtics in six games.

Milwaukee Bucks v Golden State Warriors Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks are no longer reigning NBA champions.

After dispatching the Boston Celtics in six games, the Golden State Warriors have reclaimed the NBA title, their fourth time seizing the crown in eight seasons. Steph Curry didn’t need it, but he earned his first ever Finals MVP award, adding yet another accolade to the greatest-shooter-of-all-time’s collection. The Dubs’ dynasty appears to be alive and well, and a fair portion of Bucks fans are viewing the achievement with a mix of admiration, jealousy, a bit of pride due to the Milwaukee connection, and the slightest hint of schadenfreude.

First things first: most, if not all Bucks fans, are perfectly pleased that the title went to a team that’s NOT the Celtics. Milwaukee and Boston have butted basketball heads before, but this last series brewed a fair amount of bad blood between the two fanbases. In particular, the antics of Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, and head coach Ime Udoka rubbed most of us the wrong way, so seeing them fall short of basketball immortality feels...right. Of course, given that the Bucks are only one season removed from their title and the Celtics just made the Finals, this rivalry should remain in good health in 2023 and beyond. Boston and Milwaukee might not be the only teams in the Eastern Conference next year, but it feels like they’re the only two teams that will matter.

All that said, it’s difficult to shake the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” that comes with Milwaukee having been knocked out in the second round, despite being favored by many to return to the championship. Were it not for their All Star forward getting injured in the previous series, Milwaukee would have been at full strength, they could have met the Miami Heat in the conference finals, and they would have returned to the Finals and overwhelmed Golden State with their size. But the game isn’t won by hypotheticals, so sooner or later Bucks fans will have to cope with the disappointing ending to yet another promising year within Giannis Antetokounmpo’s prime. The good news is, so far, that Khris Middleton should be ready to go next season...and the additional time off means some well-deserved rest for the rest of the Bucks roster.

There’s always next year. That’s what we’ve been saying since last month, what the Celtics have been saying since last night, and what all 29 teams tell themselves when they fall short. It’s the necessary coping mechanism of fanbases everywhere. In the case of the Milwaukee Bucks, though, I have a feeling that it’s more than just talk.

Stay tuned.