Credit where credit is due: I had very few expectations that this Bucks team would be doing this well at this point in the season. Unlike my more optimistic (realistic?) colleagues on staff, I had figured age, injuries, and disinterest would combine to do our regular season in. While each has had a hand in some defeats along the way, we’re not old enough, beat up enough, or bored enough for the ship of state to start taking on significant water.
In honor of the East’s top seed nearly 75% of the way through the year, here are some things that are true that I didn't expect to be the case:
- Brook Lopez is not only serviceable after back surgery and a lost season — he looks the best he ever has in a Bucks uniform
- Joe Ingles cannot move laterally, but his combination of moxie, ability to read the floor, and insane fearlessness has kept him productive in the rotation
- Jon Horst was able to acquire a rotation-level guy in Jae Crowder for not much
- Giannis Antetokounmpo has sustained a career-high usage rate of 38.9% without huge drop-offs in effectiveness
- MarJon Beauchamp might have a future in the league, maybe, possibly
- Wes Matthews is able to reach a level of pissed off-edness that allows him to overcome his 36 year old body defensively whenever he does play
- Khris Middleton is, contrary to popular belief, not dead (we think)
Those are a lot of good things, and because of them we’re in pole position to head into the playoffs with the East’s top overall seed. While we’re more than capable of blowing crucial home games in the playoffs, I’d much rather we face a path to another title that mostly goes through Milwaukee. That reality is far more within reach than I’d have guessed around this past December/January; credit to the Milwaukee Bucks for making it so.
Watch Giannis eat snacks, talk Charles Antetokounmpo Foundation on ‘The Daily Show’ (Milwaukee Record)
You’ve probably already watched the clip and have also consumed the fallout content being Skip Bayless taking a joke bit purposefully out of context and a “clap back” from the Daily Show host, Hasan Minhaj. But in case you haven’t, I encourage you to watch at least the original interview this morning!
How the Milwaukee Bucks, winners of 16 straight games, can keep the streak alive (CBS Sports)
I’m not a strong believer in jinxes, but 16 straight wins is a little premature to be writing the definitive “can they keep it up????” article, right? Given that we promptly lost the next game after this article posted to the Sixers, I’d say yes, it was a bit early.
NBA Third-Quarter Awards: No team was better than the Bucks, and Dame Lillard was on another level (Yahoo)
An appreciation post for a Bucks team that was the toast of the NBA throughout February. I’m very grateful that such a good month has put us in prime position to enjoy the last portion of the regular season as something that matters. Take last night for example: The Bucks beat the Wizards and we can flip channels to watch the godforsaken tragedy that was the Knicks 2OT win over the Celtics because it mattered. That’s awesome!
Should the Bucks be the favorites to win the East and NBA Championship? (ESPN)
Kyle brought up a good point to me last night while we recorded our podcast: Jae Crowder looks good in our base zone-drop defense, but just imagine how much defensive potential he has to still show in an all-out switching scheme. And he’s right! Much like with PJ Tucker, the real value of each guy will flash most prominently when they’re regularly asked to cover smaller/quicker guards/wings and capably stand up to the challenge 8 possessions out of 10. While Crowder’s additional alone doesn’t fully tip the scales definitively in Milwaukee’s favor as title favorites, I think it gets us a lot closer than we’re even contemplating right now.
Winners of Madison snowplow naming contest announced (WMTV — Madison)
Extremely delighted with whoever submitted “Giannis Intent-to-Scoop-Snow” as a naming option for one of Madison’s snowplow trucks. Extremely disappointed, as usual, with the residents of Madison who — it appears to my reading of this website — put “Giannis Intent-to-Scoop-Snow” in last place behind luminaries such as “The Shovin’ Scoopful” and “Mustard Sidewinder”. What the hell is “Mustard Sidewinder” even supposed to mean? Lol.
Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Leonard, Mamukelashvili, Middleton (Hoops Rumors)
Plugging this piece because it stands as a testament to the growing brand of our very own Gabe Stoltz:
The team will have a decision to make on Meyers Leonard, whose 10-day contract is about to expire. Leonard has appeared in four games in his first NBA action in nearly two years and has made an impression on coach Mike Budenholzer, tweets Bucks beat reporter Gabe Stoltz. (!!!)
The only thing missing here was the Hoops Rumors author 1) Crediting Brew Hoop and 2) Misspelling it as “Brewhoop”.
Fan Post of the Week
Just hanging out with the fellas in the Fan Post staff break room:
Know Your Enemy (Until SBNation Ceases to Exist)
Orlando Magic - Orlando Pinstriped Post - 30-year Orlandoversary: Anderson banks in game-winner from deep as Magic nip Bullets, 92-91
- As showcased in last week’s MMMR, Orlando Pinstriped Post is one of our sister sites that has more or less officially ceased to exist. The last post is from February 27th, 2023 which is right before the deadline set by Vox of when the plug would be pulled. RIP.
Brooklyn Nets - Nets Daily - No, sports fans, they are not tanking
- I’m sure there has to be some internet maxim that if you have to write to reassure fans that your team isn’t trying to suck on purpose, they might actually be trying to suck on purpose. Shadow tanks come in all shapes and sizes these days.
Golden State Warriors - Golden State of Mind - Jordan Poole and the disconnect between three-point volume and efficiency
- Classic case of a young guy who “made it” as part of a winning formula early enough to lessen the urgency to mold his game into more effective shapes. Poole is still a gifted scorer, but some rough patches through poor shot selection should help him become even better if he can learn to avoid the wrong shot types in his diet.
The Social Media Section
The Wembanyama-Mamukelashvili two man game next season might topple the league
The San Antonio Spurs are releasing Isaiah Roby and claiming former Milwaukee Bucks C/F Sandro Mamukelashvili off waivers, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 3, 2023
Yes, coach. You’re welcome.
Bucks. Plugging away. Yeoman-like grinders, quietly moving along without concern about who gets credit. Management elite, & players just want to make Milwaukee proud. Pretty simple. Thank you to our fans. So important.— Mike Dunlap (@CoachMikeDunlap) February 27, 2023
Kane’s anti-Eric Nehm brand remains bulletproof
.@KanePitman on the jumbotron promoting the reverse cam. Stop with this propaganda! pic.twitter.com/MbCR1cdyTX— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) March 5, 2023
Oh God, Giannis is actually starting to do standup spots
Thanasis is for the people
More evidence that none of us understood the vision
Jordan Nwora says he welcomes the chance the #Pacers are offering.https://t.co/M2Zq6Yn8BK pic.twitter.com/tXwJlw3emD— IndyStarSports (@IndyStarSports) March 2, 2023
Do everything in your power to put Yakima on the map, my friend. We believe.
You have to earn the right to say “Let’s go Bucks” after that little stunt you tried pulling on Khris awhile back, dork. Welcome to town, though.
Surely a prelude to Giannis becoming outright owner/God Emperor of the upcoming USL Championship team to be based out of Milwaukee
BREAKING: Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Nashville Predators Filip Forsberg have joined the ownership group of Nashville SC. Antetokounmpo's brothers Thanasis, Kostas and Alex have also joined the ownership group: https://t.co/TRKdSTpR4S#EveryoneN— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 2, 2023
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 36-28
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 46-18
A more leisurely-paced week ahead for the Bucks with games at the Orlando Magic tomorrow night, back in Milwaukee Thursday to host the Brooklyn Nets, and the start of a short West Coast road trip beginning Saturday at the Golden State Warriors.
We should more or less be knocking all of these teams out through sheer talent. As such, I will predict 3-0 as the race in the East’s playoff standings heats up.