There is a perception about the all-time great teams, the accepted dynasties, that there was an air of inevitability around them. Basketball has plenty of examples of these teams or, in some cases, individual players who most people feel comfortable betting on pulling through whatever adversity any game may throw their way.
Do the Milwaukee Bucks possess that same aura of, for lack of a better term, destiny about them? No, not really. That is a function of the three top players on the roster and their respective tendencies to run hot and cold at the best and worst moments possible.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the most inevitable guy on the roster capable of drawing upon physical strength to push the game in Milwaukee’s direction — and still, over a decade into his career there are moments where a “Wall” or generically a gaggle of defenders being forced his way can short-circuit his decision-making. Jrue Holiday has been a prince of “no, no, no... YES!” since becoming a Buck; often able to keep the team afloat or shoot at the team’s feet Yosemite Sam-style by himself for 8 to 10 minute stretches before he suffers a lapse in execution or, alternatively, makes the biggest goddamn shot of the game. Khris Middleton’s shot diet alone opens him up to ups and downs and the consistency will only be left more wanting as he continues a physical recovery process on the fly.
When they’re all on, the Bucks are invincible. As we’re aware, the nights they’re all on are rare. Instead, they’re like most good teams who run through phases of success and failure from minute to minute. The difference is the moments of good are more numerous than those of bad. But they’ve never fully mastered their craft. They’ve yet to master inevitability. They probably never will, and that’s OK. You just have to hope they can get close when it matters most.
Bobby Portis Opens Up About His Second Chance In Milwaukee, Learning From Giannis & Much More (Old Man & The Three — JJ Redick’s Podcast)
The interview with Bobby starts at about the 11:20 mark if you want to skip JJ and Robin do a sort of interview recap leading into it. I’ve yet to get the chance to watch it in full, but you’ve also likely seen the clip circulating of Bobby explaining how he ended up in Milwaukee in the first place. Almost assuredly worth your time.
If you’ve encountered my blathering about the Bucks online at all, you’ll know I am a card carrying member of the Brook Lopez Is Gigantic Society. That he continues to be effective at age 34 with years of wear and tear on his body speaks to just how skilled he is as a player; credit, then, to Jackson Frank for digging up some numbers to help make that impact more tangible.
Can he sustain those some bursts of productivity into the playoffs? If he can, that raises the floor of our offense somewhat significantly. Maybe not enough to uncover the winning formula without fail, but enough to cover the team’s gaps from time to time to keep them in things.
Interesting piece bringing up how the Bucks “learned” from the “mistake” of essentially ceding the East’s top seed to Boston on the last day of the 2021-2022 regular season and how they’ve sped things up offensively during the now-concluded win streak. I’m happy to hear that they want to leave nothing up to chance when it comes to where playoff games will be played, although I do wonder whether the quick offense of recent vintage will have any meaningful staying power or is even something to hang a hat on. The likelihood of our offense being competent enough in the playoffs to justify a breakneck pace seems vanishingly small, but I’d be happy to be wrong.
Happy for Donte to have gotten a little taste of revenge. Better that he did it while playing his primary calling card as a basketball player: Doing stuff. If he’s capable of staying healthy, he’ll absolutely continue to find rosters to stick on for years to come. Best of luck to him until we next face off!
On the one hand, I disapprove of the intensity with which basketball’s morality police have condemned Giannis. On the other, it is heartening that the worst crime we can accuse Giannis of as a professional is some statistical buffoonery. Move out of the way “fake humble” — “disrespects the sport” is Giannis’s villain calling card now.
There are those readers/commenters who want to restrict their vision to the 2023 NBA Playoffs only. Then there are the select few who can be farsighted keeping the distant future in frame at all times. G may is one of those seers, with “Early predictions for the ‘24 playoffs”. I really like the Magic as a top six team in the East pick because it mixes zany with maybe in perfect proportions.
Is it even all that controversial to say the Grizzlies may quickly tank in a crowded West next year assuming Ja Morant is incapable of reducing his Guns Posted on Social Media per 36?
Know Your Enemy (Until SB Nation Ceases to Exist)
Sacramento Kings - Sactown Royalty - 4 keys for the Kings in the second half of the season
- The Beam shines brightly into the darkness of that Sacramento Kings night, dispelling literal decades of futility and outright mockery one extraterrestrial lifeform contact at a time. “Have your stars continue to play like stars” may read like a catchall that applies to any team, and that’s because it does... even the Sacramento Kings, now.
Phoenix Suns - Bright Side of the Sun - Suns will have to rely on defense to close out the season strong
- THE WHO will have to rely on WHAT???
(I’m just reading that Phoenix has the league’s sixth-best defense. I cannot imagine that standing in a post-KD-trade world)
- Indy Cornrows is another sister site that died off a few weeks ago. It is unfortunate because playing the Pacers was always an opportunity to showcase some of the best work SBN has to offer. They’ve got a skeleton crew doing game threads and recaps, but not much more these days.
- The Raptors did next to nothing at the trade deadline after bragging high and low about how they could get 8,121,319 first round picks for Chris Boucher if they wanted. They decided to hold their chips so they can get 9,238,428 first rounders for Boucher in the summer instead while also flailing around the question of if they’ll can Nick Nurse or pay him $100 million. Weird organization.
The Social Media Section
God Emperor Goof is humbled by the public’s adoration for God Empress Goof
Thank you MarJon, but at heart, I’m just some guy who blogs in his free time (primarily on weekends)
I learned that fixing basketball courts can take an impressively long time
The Antetokounmpos are the sole force in the universe trying to turn the tide and make basketball fun again
Also, Thanasis has had a good string of initial guests on his podcast. Great stories on the circles of life with Vin on one on latest episodes.
Kicking up your feet and cashing checks. It’s a lifestyle thing.
I want Adam Silver to have the courage of his convictions and publicly tell us one thing about ball that Giannis doesn't know
The league has rescinded Giannis Antetokounmpo's 10th rebound last night--and thus his triple-double, sources tell ESPN. League rules say that for a field-goal attempt to count as official, the player has to shoot "with intent to score a field-goal" -- i.e. to make the shot.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) March 6, 2023
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 38-29
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 48-19
A double shot of Western road trip tonight and tomorrow will conclude Milwaukee’s trip to the coast with the Kings tonight and the Phoenix Suns tomorrow. Then they’re back in Wisconsin to host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
I think they will go 3-1 with a surprise loss to the Indiana Pacers who, led by Jordan Nwora’s vision and stout defensive instincts, will approach a style of play we can only regard as invincible on that night and that night only.